An essential component for petrol driven vehicles, the car battery provides an electrical spark that powers the ignition system of a car’s engine. Although the battery it isn’t a moving part of your engine - it still needs care due to the acid and chemicals within it, which over time may cause corrosion of the battery and connections.
Without proper maintenance a car battery will have a significantly shorter life-span than it should have, and there may be other parts of your engine that will suffer for this lack of care.
Maintaining Your Battery
Firstly, remove the colored dusty deposits from the negative and positive terminals. You do this by covering the terminals with baking soda and then using a damp brush to scrub the deposits away. The deposits themselves are caused by acidic corrosion.
Next, you dry the terminals with a disposable rag. Try not to get any of the dusty deposit on your hands, but if you do - wash them immediately in water to prevent burns.
Now you reconnect the cables to the terminals and make sure to connect the positive cable first. Once you’ve reconnected the cables you should coat the terminal in petroleum jelly or other grease to prevent future corrosion of the terminals.
It's a good idea to examine the cabling and any clamps for fraying or corrosion. If you find extensive damage to either then you should consult a mechanic to have these replaced.
You should also check the electrolyte in the battery. If it's too weak you should either recharge (see below) or replace the battery.
Finally, you need to check the battery casing. If there are major cracks appearing in the case or the terminals themselves are severely damaged, then you should replace your battery. This should be done no matter how well the battery is performing.
Charging Your Battery
Before charging the battery you'll need to disconnect the battery and remove it from the vehicle. You should always disconnect the negative cable first. Then, place the battery in a well ventilated area.
It's important that you keep children and pets well away from it. Next, you must connect your battery to a battery charger. Make sure that you remove any battery caps as instructed in the charger manual. Your battery should then be left to charge overnight.
When you return the battery to the vehicle, please make sure that you connect the positive cable first.
Storing a Car Battery
It's best to store a battery rather than let it sit for a long-time in an unused vehicle. This prevents corrosion and complete discharge of the battery.
To store a battery disconnect the battery, and charge it. You'll also want to keep it in a cool dry place. During storage it's a good idea to recharge the battery at least once every 2 months. But remember - when you decide to use the battery again you'll need to recharge it before putting it back into the vehicle.
It's worth noting that car batteries are only meant to last between 3 and 5 years, so you’ll eventually need to buy a replacement – no matter how well you maintain your battery.