How to Help Extend the Life of Your Car Battery—For Free!

  • January 24, 2022
working on car battery working on car battery

From extreme temperatures to parasitic drains, driving habits, and more, there are a ton of factors affecting your car’s battery life. While you can typically depend on your battery for 3-5 years, aging can eventually make your lead-acid power source kick the bucket. 

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help maximize your car battery shelf life. With these tips, you’ll learn how to get every ounce of power from your car battery before your next replacement.

How to Extend Car Your Battery Life Without Spending a Dime

Avoid Short Trips

Short trips may not give your battery enough time to recharge properly. Since starting your car requires so much energy from the battery, frequent short trips may end up discharging it without any chance for a recharge. After too many short trips, you may not have enough battery power to start your car the next time around — especially during winter, when batteries tend to struggle even more.

Don't Let Your Car Sit for Too Long

One of the worst things you can do for your battery is to let your car sit. Leaving your car in storage or otherwise inactive for longer than two weeks may result in a dead or weak battery, even if it is fairly new. Frequent deep discharges from disuse can seriously shorten your battery’s life. Consider using a battery maintainer if your vehicle will be dormant for long periods of time. 

Drive Longer Distances

Give your alternator enough time to fully recharge your battery by driving longer. Longer trips at highway speed are often a surefire way to bring your battery charge back up. And while technically this suggestion isn’t completely “free,” spending a few extra cents on gas is much cheaper than paying for a new battery!

Keep Battery Terminals Clean

Car battery corrosion isn’t just gross to look at; it also has a serious effect on your battery’s performance. Over time, the sulfuric acid inside lead-acid batteries can cause corrosive material to build up on car battery terminals and cables. This greenish, flaky buildup actually increases electrical resistance between the terminal and battery post, making the battery work harder than it needs to.

Thankfully, keeping your battery terminals clean is a relatively simple task that you can do with household materials. Check out How to Clean Car Battery Terminals With Stuff You Already Have to learn more.

Tightly Secure Your Battery

Regularly inspect your battery to make sure it is tightly fastened all around. A battery that isn’t properly secured may shorten its lifespan. A battery that’s loosely connected to its mounting bracket may cause a loose connection at the battery terminals.

A battery that isn’t tightly secured to its mounting bracket or battery tray can be subject to excessive vibrations while you drive. Excessive vibration is a quiet battery killer because it can lead to internal damage.

Loose cables, on the other hand, create significant resistance to the flow of electricity between the battery terminals. Similar to corrosive buildup, this makes the battery work extra hard to function normally and could lead to some electrical issues.

Turn Off Accessories

A battery doesn’t just start your car; it also sends power to many accessories when you turn on the ignition. You can help conserve battery power by keeping various accessories, such as seat warmers, phone chargers, and air conditioning, turned off when starting the car.

You can also give your battery a break by avoiding parasitic drain. Parasitic drain occurs when an electronic component in your vehicle continues to draw power from the battery when the car is off. This could be something as obvious as an interior light left on or something much harder to detect, like a sticking relay. 

Be sure to turn off and unplug accessories before getting out of your car to avoid draining the battery overnight and to reduce power usage when starting the engine the following morning.

Regularly Test Your Battery

The best way to get the most out of your battery is to assess its condition regularly. A simple battery test will tell you how much voltage your battery is putting out and give you an idea of how healthy it is. This way, you'll know whether or not you’re at risk of getting stranded with a dead battery on the side of the road. Getting your battery tested regularly will also help you know when to replace your battery altogether.

You could always invest in your own battery tester or battery charger to keep your battery healthy–or you could simply schedule a free courtesy check at your local Firestone service center. Here’s what you can expect when you come in for a free battery check at Firestone Complete Auto Care:

Car batteries can last a long time if cared for properly. Make sure yours stays in good working condition by following these tips and having it inspected regularly at your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care. From general maintenance to replacement and installation, we've got you covered!

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