Here’s an interesting statistic: Only thirty percent of car batteries make it to forty-eight months. And the life expectancy varies by where you live. It ranges from fifty-one months in extremely cold areas to just thirty months in extremely hot climates.
Why is that? It turns out that it’s our modern cars with all their electric accessories that are to blame. Things like, GPS, DVDs, and entertainment computers are keeping car batteries from maintaining a full charge. The longer a battery goes with a low charge, the sooner it’ll die.
So the battery must be recharged. This is the job of the alternator. The problem comes when the car’s demand for electricity is high and we are driving in stop and go conditions or short trips around town. The alternator just can’t keep up.
The result is shortened battery life. So what can we do to improve our battery’s health?
We need to keep the battery as close to a full charge as possible. That can be hard because sitting for just twenty-four hours in hot weather between charges can be too long. When the weather’s cold, sitting for several days will cause discharge.
So some highway driving will help keep a full charge if the battery has not been deeply depleted. Car batteries are not designed to be run down really low, or deep cycled, as it’s called. So using your headlights or other power accessories when the car is off can deeply deplete your battery.
Using the alternator to recharge from a deeply depleted state is very hard on your battery because it charges too fast. In fact, on average, your battery would only last for ten recharges like that.
If you do find yourself with a dead or very low battery, use a good quality battery charger to slowly bring the battery up to full charge. Follow the instructions on the charger.
Because our batteries are so often at less than a full charge, experts suggest that we use a battery charger from time to time to keep the charge up. They recommend once a month during hot weather and once every three months during colder times.
Now, a word on safety. Batteries contain sulfuric acid that can severely burn your skin and could blind you. If you find yourself with a dead battery, carefully inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire.
Deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.