AUTOMOTIVE BATTERIES

11. CAN I INCREASE THE LIFE OF MY BATTERY?

11.1. Protecting your battery from high under hood temperatures and keeping your battery well maintained are the BEST ways to extend the life of your battery. For cold climates, keeping the battery fully charged and the engine warm will help increase the life of the battery. In warmer climates and during the summer, the electrolyte levels need to be checked more frequently and DISTILLED water added, if required. This is due to high under hood temperatures. In a study conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the under hood temperature has increased 30% since 1985. Chrysler studies have shown that relocating the battery outside the engine compartment has increased the average battery life by eight months. Heat shielding or relocating the battery to the trunk or passenger compartment, as Mazda did in their Miata a number of years ago, is becoming more popular. This battery placement is being used by a number of car manufacturers to protect the batteries from the high under hood temperatures. However, gel cell or AGM type batteries should be used because they produce little or no gas. Some battery manufacturers build "hot climate" or "South" versions by increasing the amount of electrolyte in the battery to provide more "cooling" or by special plate formulations.

11.2. In the warmer climates and during the summer, "watering" is required more often. Check the electrolyte levels and add distilled water, if required. Never add electrolyte to battery that is not fully charged-just add distilled water and do not overfill. The plates must be covered at all times. Keep the top of the battery clean.

11.3. Turning off unnecessary accessories and lights BEFORE starting your car will decrease the load on the battery while cranking, especially when it is cold.

11.4. Leaving your lights or other accessories on and fully discharging the battery can ruin your car battery, especially if it is maintenance free. If this should occur, you should load test the battery AFTER it has been fully recharged and with the surface charge removed to determine if there is any latent or permanent damage.

11.5. Reducing the parasitic (key-off) load to 120 milliamps or less.

11.6. In cold climates, increasing the diameter (smaller numbered wire gauge) of the battery cables will increase the power available to the starter motor.


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