The average car battery lasts somewhere between two and five years, but there are ways to extend its lifespan. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your car battery.
What affects the lifespan of my car battery?
The lifespan of your car battery depends on where you live, how frequently you drive short distances and how often you keep your gadgets plugged in.
According to Firestone Complete Auto Care, living in an area that has warm weather year-round shortens the life of your car battery. Check out Firestone's climate map to see how your area impacts your car's battery. The battery will also drain faster if you regularly drive for 20 minutes or less, as this does not allow your battery to fully charge. Try your best to keep these short trips to a minimum.
Bryan Emrich, the vice president of marketing for PEAK Performance Products, advises asking the technician to inspect the water level and check for corrosion the next time you bring your car in for service. Corrosion is the white buildup that you might find on the battery terminal. If you spot mild corrosion yourself, there are a number of ways you can clean the battery. The first step is to disconnect the wires from the negative batter post. Do not disconnect the positive post first. Put the wires aside.
Mix three tablespoons of baking powder and one tablespoon of warm water. Scrub with this mixture and an old toothbrush. Wipe with a wet towel and then use another towel to dry the terminal. Once it is completely dry, Reader's Digest suggests putting petroleum jelly around each terminal to prevent future buildup.
You can also use soda - (yes, soda pop) - to remove corrosion. Pour a little over the corroded parts of the battery and let it sit before wiping away the residue with a wet sponge.
Unplug your electronics
Avoid overusing your gadgets when your car is not running, says Emrich.
"Using the horn, stereo, headlights or other accessories when your car is off can actually drain your battery life a lot faster," he explains.
Make sure all of the car doors are closed and the lights go off after you park your car. Don't forget to unplug your car phone and iPod charger when you don't need them, and be smart about how many gadgets you have plugged in at once.
Insulate the battery
If there is space, install an insulation blanket around the battery. This will protect it from extreme heat and cold while also preventing the battery from overheating. Having a large battery means less room for insulation, and likely a shorter battery life. If you get a new battery, make sure the insulation blanket still fits properly. If not, get a new one.
Emrich also suggests having a battery charger on hand in case you are stuck with a dead battery. This will allow you to jump-start your car without another car, but do keep a set of jumper cables on hand as well.