There is so much of our car that we take for granted. One of these things is the ability to get in, start the engine, turn on the music and drive away. The ability to do this is all thanks to the battery – that small electrical heart of every car on the road.
The battery delivers the voltage to start and run your car, as well as powering the lights, radio, dashboard, computer and many other mechanisms.
It's easy to forget that it takes a bit of maintenance to keep that battery ticking away. Many motorists have experienced the dread of a flat battery – a car that just won't start – and many more undoubtedly will at one point or another. Because they're just not built to last forever – batteries typically have a lifespan of about three or four years. But, with the right maintenance, you can definitely prolong its life, avoid the inevitable and get the most for your money.
Let's take a look at a couple of things you can check, and the importance of battery maintenance.
Like so many other parts of your car, there are a ton of things that can go wrong. For instance, a common problem which many people experience is when the battery hasn't been properly secured in the battery tray and it moves around a lot – or falls over. This could result in the battery banging into the engine and causing a whole bunch of other expensive problems.
Sometimes, you might find that your battery only needs a good recharge. Driving the vehicle regularly should keep it charged, if only for a couple of minutes a week. But, if that doesn't work out, there are a large number of reliable battery chargers out there which will allow you to do this from home. These days, you even get solar-powered rechargers, so it's easier on the electricity bill.
In most cases, your car will tell you when there's something wrong with the battery. One of the most obvious symptoms is the appearance of the Check Engine light on your dashboard. Another is an obvious lack of energy when starting the engine, or if it takes a little longer than usual to start. Some motorists have also reported a potent rotten-egg smell coming from their bonnet – and this is often a sign of a leaking battery. A leaking battery releases strong-smelling sulphur, and it causes a fair amount of corrosion around the cable connections.
As mentioned above, you'll never avoid having to replace the battery completely. The best you can hope for is that by maintaining it and paying a little more attention, you could at least avoid becoming stranded.
Service your battery as often as you would service your engine, and follow our handy tips below.