10 ways to maintain your car battery

Finding yourself stranded on the side of the road can be avoided

A car battery does its work silently and unheeded, only making its presence felt when the engine gives a ‘click’ and it dies. This often happens at the most inconvenient times, leaving personal schedules and commitments in tatters.

“Feeling disappointed while sitting stranded in a driveway, city parking lot or even a remote holiday destination can be avoided if a car battery is given a little TLC, through regular maintenance and testing,” says Joe du Plooy Group Marketing Executive at Tiger Wheel & Tyre, as he unpacks important tips to make your car battery go the distance:

· Driving your vehicle regularly
Batteries in cars that are driven regularly ‘keep their charge’ as the battery is automatically charged while the car is in motion. If you leave the car standing for some time, you are bound to have problems. So, if you know your car will be standing for a few weeks, arrange for someone to start the car for you once or twice a week. If the car is left running for a few minutes a week, it will keep its power. If there is no-one around to help, it’s best to disconnect your battery before going away.

· Servicing the car according to the manufacturer’s schedule
If your engine isn’t working as it should, the battery will work harder and its life will be reduced.

· Checking the battery’s charging rate
Under and over-charging the battery will reduce its life. “Most reputable battery dealers will conduct these quick checks for you,” says Joe du Plooy, adding that free battery tests are offered at Tiger Wheel & Tyre stores.

· Avoid leaving car lights and accessories on for long periods without the engine running
Leaving accessories running while a car is stationary will discharge the battery. Although this can be rectified by recharging the battery, constantly doing this may shorten its life.

· Keep the battery case clean
Dirt and dampness can damage a battery case causing it to lose charge. Ensuring that the case and terminals are checked and cleaned during car services will avoid this. If you notice corrosion or acid on battery terminals, clean this off with water and cover the terminal connection with grease to avoid a reoccurrence.

· Keep the battery properly secured in the engine bay
Check that your battery is secure at all times. Vibrations can shake it loose and cause damage to the battery plates. Vibrations can also loosen terminals bringing journeys to an abrupt halt.

· Never try and jump-start a flat battery
Modern cars are full of electronics. Jump starting a flat battery can send excessive current into the system and damage the electronics. If you have no option, you should ensure that your headlights are switched on before you attempt a jump start. This will help avoid electrical surges. Motorists are advised to refer to their car manual for recommendations on how to jump start their car, as it differs for every vehicle.

· Park inside a garage in winter
Parking inside a garage where it’s warmer, protects the battery from extreme cold which shortens its lifespan.

· Cut down on short trips
Frequent trips of less than 20 minutes don’t give your battery enough time to charge and drain it faster.

· Replace your car battery every 3 to 4 years.
“The most common question we get from motorists is – how often should I replace my car battery? On average a battery can last up to three years, but it all depends on your driving conditions, habits and the weather. “Take the time to do regular checks. This will not only prolong a car’s battery life, but also help avoid disappointments,” concludes Joe du Plooy.

“However, it is inevitable that a battery will die at some stage. It is then that rewards programmes like UCount Rewards from Standard Bank come into their own, helping consumers to stretch their budgets. With UCount Rewards, members can redeem their rewards points to pay for their purchase on a car battery at Tiger Wheel & Tyre, thus ensuring that they are not out of pocket for these unplanned expenses,” says Fayelizabeth Foster, Head of Loyalty and Rewards at Standard Bank