Our auto repair shop knows all too well that batteries are usually treated as “fit-and-forget” items in your car. People purchase a car and remember to check oil and water on a regular basis but most tend to overlook the battery and the system that goes hand in hand with it. Nine times out of ten, your battery probably only gets your attention when it goes flat or malfunctions.
Contrary to what some motorists may think, a car battery does not charge itself it actually relies on the electrical support system to keep it alive and running strong. This support system is the alternator and the wiring that feeds all the different gadgets and apparatus in your car. Take away the support system of your battery, and it will run flat in a short amount of time, just like your cell phone.
How Your Battery Loses and Regains Its Charge
The battery may be the power house of the electrical system but it has a weakness. When an electrical component of the car is used while the engine is not running – for example an electric window or the radio – energy from the battery is being used. This drains the battery without allowing it to regain energy through charging. When the battery stands still, or is not in use for a long period of time, there is a phenomenon known as internal resistance. This is where a battery will slowly lose power through its own resistance. This happens to all batteries over a period of time.
To make sure that the battery is always charged the alternator comes into play. The alternator is driven by a belt attached to the engine. When the engine turns on the alternator creates an electrical charge which is then stored in the battery. This whole process only happens when the car is on and running. This means that the battery charge is only being captured when the engine runs. When the engine is off, the battery is idle and battery resistance kicks in, which is why we need to regularly check up on the battery.
Regular services and factory scheduled maintenance gives you the opportunity to have your battery and alternator checked. Our service technicians will be able to identify potential issues before they become unexpected problems and failures. We will check the connections to your battery, alternator output, drive belt, and overall battery condition. These checks will work toward preventing inefficiencies in the charging system and keep you free from being stranded with a dead battery at an inconvenient time or place.
Tips to Keeping Your Battery Life As Long As Possible
The reality is that, in South Florida, batteries die quick. The heat and humidity are enemies of a long-lasting battery. Here are a few tips to help you take better care of your battery and extend its life a little longer:
- Limit short rides in your car as these don’t fully charge the battery and could result in an under charged battery.
- If you can’t avoid short drives, then at least make sure that you drive for an extended period every now and then so that the battery gets its full charge.
- Keep your battery fastened down tight, as any movement or vibration could cause internal damage and even short circuits.
- Turn of all lights when you exit your vehicle as any light that is left on will drain the battery. Even an internal light could drain the battery overtime when the vehicle is not being used.
- Keep corrosion under control by regularly cleaning the battery terminals with a mixture of baking soda and water, this will neutralize any acid that would cause damage to the terminals over time.
- Try not to use electronics (cell phone chargers, radio etc.) when the car is not running as this will drain the battery and put a strain on the battery charging system when it is needed to start the car.
- Get your battery tested regularly at a certified center to make sure you are looking after the battery life.
Regularly checking your battery keeps it healthy so it never lets you down when last expect it. Give us a call today to book your car in for a battery check and scheduled maintenance service.