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5 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Car Battery

Most car batteries will last three to five years, but multiple factors can reduce their lifespan. Here are five ways to boost your car battery’s longevity.

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Clean corroded car battery terminalsPhoto: Shutterstock

Clean the battery terminals

Like most car parts, your vehicle’s battery requires maintenance. Check the battery and connections periodically to make sure that the connections are secure and free of dirt and grime. Batteries routinely develop a powdery substance where the cables meet the terminals. To remove it, start by disconnecting the cables. Then, in a small container, mix two tablespoons of baking soda with an equal amount of water and blend to form a paste. (Here are more great baking soda hacks.) Use a toothbrush to apply the paste to each terminal, followed by a wire brush to remove the residue. Finally, wipe the terminals dry with a clean towel before reconnecting them. There are also special corrosion cleaner sprays, terminal protection sprays, and battery terminal cleaning tools you can purchase to make this process easier. If they’re too far gone, follow these step-by-step instructions for replacing corroded battery terminals.

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Car battery tips: Avoid short tripsPhoto: Shutterstock

Drive regularly and avoid short trips

If your car stays parked for days on end or you use it only for short trips, the car battery won’t have sufficient time to recharge. Take extended trips on a regular basis to help the battery regain a full charge. (These top 10 Canadian road trips are a great place to find some inspiration!) If you know your vehicle will have extended periods of infrequent use, consider choosing an absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery, which is better equipped to withstand parasitic loads. Here are more tips on what to look for when buying a new car battery.

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Car battery tips: Avoid extreme temperaturesPhoto: Shutterstock

Be mindful of extreme temperatures

Nothing takes more of a toll on a car battery than extreme temperatures. If you’re lucky and have a car waiting for you in Florida with hot summers, then your car’s battery will age more quickly. For the rest of us, cold weather will be also also hard on our battery, as it causes our vehicle to use up more power. Don’t forget to test your battery in every season, not just when it gets cold. Here’s how to conduct a 10-minute seasonal car battery check-up.

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Accessories can drain your car batteryPhoto: Shutterstock

Keep all accessories off when starting the engine

Accessories such as climate control, seat warmers, heated steering wheels, lights, and audio, communications and navigation systems are all a drain on your car’s battery. When starting your vehicle, particularly in cold weather, make sure that all accessories are off. If you can control your car remotely, ensure the accessories are off before starting it. Speaking of cold weather, here are six ways to get your car winter-ready.

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Test your car battery regularlyPhoto: Shutterstock

Test your battery regularly

Testing your car’s battery can significantly reduce your chances of getting stranded with no power. To check your battery, connect it to a multimeter while your car is off. Hook up the red (positive) lead to the battery’s positive terminal, then the black (negative) lead to the negative terminal. Turn the meter to the DC volt setting and read the results. If your battery reads at least 12.4 volts, it is sufficiently charged and should continue to hold a charge. If the reading is below 12.4 volts, the battery may be able to accept a recharge. If not, replace the battery immediately. While a multimeter will give you a quick indication of your battery’s condition, it is not as reliable as the equipment at a professional garage or service centre. If you have any concerns about the reliability of your battery or if it is more than three years old, you should consult a professional to have it tested. Extending the life of your car battery comes down to proper care. Checking it regularly is all it takes to prevent an untimely breakdown. Here seven more car maintenance jobs you can do yourself.