Maintaining Your Car Battery

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A battery, like other regions of your vehicle, is subject to tear and wear and should be checked regularly. Specifically, pay attention to the battery’s trouble spots, shown here. A battery that’s kept clean lasts longer than a cruddy one.

The parts of the battery to examine.

The parts from the battery to confirm.

Before you work on your battery, be sure to read all the safety precautions involved. Here’s a rundown:

Never work on battery power with a lit cigarette inside your mouth. Batteries are filled up with sulfuric acid that generates hydrogen gas. Wash them off with water immediately if you get acid deposits on the skin or clothes.

Be sure to shut the engine off first, although disconnect the battery if you work on it! On most modern vehicles, computers control functions of the engine, ignition and fuel systems, automatic transmissions, and other stuff. Be extremely careful not to inadvertently send a try of unwanted voltage into one of the computers and destroy it.

Always remove the negative cable in the battery if you intend to work on wiring under the hood. This prevents you against possibly damaging electrical components or receiving a shock.

When replacing and removing both battery cables, always remove the negative cable first and change it out last. If you attempt to remove the positive clamp first plus your wrench touches and slips something metal, your wrench can fuse on the part such as an arc welder.

Tie the cables back as you work on the battery. Don’t allow anything created from metal to get in touch the terminal posts; this can damage the battery. You may destroy the onboard computers if the cables are linked to the posts when something else interferes.

Don’t let all the cautions listed here turn you off the idea of checking your vehicle’s battery. It’s easy to examine your battery. Just locate it and adopt these measures:

Clean off powdery deposits on the negative and positive terminals.

The deposits that form in lovely colors on top of your terminals are made by battery acid. Before you wash it, remove the cables (negative first) from both terminals by undoing the nut on each cable clamp and wiggling the cable up until the clamp comes off the terminal post.

To brush the deposits off the terminal cable and posts clamps, sprinkle some baking soda onto each terminal, dip an old toothbrush or disposable brush in water, and scrub the deposits away.

You can use a battery terminal brush (inside the cap) and clamp cleaner.

You can use a battery terminal brush (in the cap) and clamp cleaner.

If your clamps and cables won’t clean up completely with baking water and soda, rotate an affordable battery terminal brush on each terminal to shine it and ensure a good, solid electrical connection. You can also shine the insides of the cable clamps with all the clamp cleaner that’s usually sold as one unit together with the brush. A soapless steel wool pad may also do the job.

Dry everything with adisposable and clean, lint-free rag.

Try to avoid having the powdery stuff on your hands or clothes. Wash it away with water right away should you do.

Reconnect the terminals for the battery, replacing the positive cable first and the negative cable last.

After the battery terminals are reconnected, coat the terminals with thick automotive grease or petroleum jelly to prevent corrosive deposits from forming again.

Examine the battery clamps and cables to see whether they’re frayed or corroded.

In case the damage looks extensive, the cables and clamps may need to be replaced; otherwise, the battery may short-circuit, that may damage onboard computers. Use a professional check it out.

If your headlights seem dim, or if battery is old, check to see whether or not the electrolyte in the battery is strong enough, if you’ve been having trouble starting your engine. If it’s weak, battery may need to be recharged or replaced before it dies and leaves you stranded.

Check the battery case as well as the terminals.

When you see major cracks in the battery case or obvious terminal damage, replace the battery irrespective of its electrical performance.