Do you know what ruins a car battery and other automotive parts fast?
Where I live, in Phoenix, Arizona, the extreme heat is my biggest battery problem, but if you’re in a cold-weather state you’re likely to have problems, too. Either way, it’s not an “if” but more of a “when” the battery is going to die.
Calculating when, and staying ahead of it, ensures me a more-pleasant experience of changing the battery on my terms, not at some random point in my summer.
Here’s what I’ve been able to do to avoid having a dead battery for about the last 7 years.
1) Figure out how old your car battery is now and what model you have.
Do you have the top-of-the-line, gold battery with a 5-year warranty, or do you have the bottom-line model with a 1-year warranty? This will give you an idea of how much more life it potentially has before leaving you stranded somewhere.
2) Many times when your car won’t start, and it sounds like your battery is dead, it’s actually not.
Frequently the terminals and cables are just so corroded the electricity can’t flow to start your car. This can be avoided with some simple and very cheap battery-terminal maintenance.
Just use a car battery cleaner and sealer about once every 4-6 months. You can use simple baking soda and water to clean it if you can’t afford an official cleaner. Then seal it to prevent further corrosion. This will keep the corrosion from growing so thick that it chokes out the flow of current.
If it’s already too late and your car won’t start, here’s a neat trick I learned. Turn your key to the on position. turn your fan blower motor on so you can hear it if it’s running. Then carefully wiggle the positive and negative cables on the battery terminals. If the fan motor kicks on, it’s likely corrosion, and not the fault of the battery, that is keeping your car from starting.
3) Only buy the 5-year-rated car battery, and only expect them to last 3 years.
After that, just upgrade and replace them to stay ahead of the game. If you can’t quite stomach buying a new one prematurely like that, an alternative is to simply carry around one of the cheap battery jump starters to avoid being stranded when it does die. Many of these can be bought for around $40 and kept in the trunk as cheap insurance.