Chip Foose Crew Members

But lots of people find that they need to modify their car battery every 1 to 2 years.

And what can you do to prolong your vehicle’s battery life?

Well… That’s what we’ll discuss in this article.

We’ll show you why car batteries die early…and what you can do to prevent this from happening.

We’ll also give you 8 easy tips and tricks to maximize the lifespan of your car’s 12 volt battery.

The tips we’ll teach you in this guide will be easy to do…and anyone will be able to perform these (even if you know nothing about cars or car batteries).

So let’s get started! …

First, You Should Know That Every Car Battery’s Lifespan Has A Limit (however most people kill their battery well before it’s time)

Even if you take care of your car battery perfectly…it will still die 1 day.

This set lifespan is called the battery’s”Calendar Life” and it’s completely independent of how many times the battery was charged or discharged.

However, most car batteries never make it their full”Calendar Life”…

Rather, they die early because of poor maintenance and maintenance…which you can do something about.

Lead acid batteries are the earliest, most dependable, and most widely used type of rechargeable battery in the world.

  • Formatting is when the battery is new and has to be used gently.

  • Peak is the perfect performance phase, which we seek to keep for as long as you can.

  • Decline is a slow process, but one which slowly ends in the conclusion of the battery.

Batteries in decline can still be used for quite some time, but have to be watched.

Around this time, you can either recondition the battery or keep a close eye on it and try to replace it until a problem arises (like being not able to begin your car for work).

Tip 1: Do a monthly review of the battery terminals to be certain they’re clean and corrosion free.   One of the first problems most people have with their car battery is the build-up of corrosion around the terminals.   Corrosion destroys the connection between the battery and the vehicle and many batteries are replaced due to too much corrosive build up.   But often times, this can be readily treated by simply pouring a small quantity of Cola or a DIY anti-corrosion glue (one part water to three parts baking soda) within the corroded areas. 

The acid in the Cola or the alkaline properties in the DIY anti-corrosion paste will eat the corrosion away.  

Tip 2: Do not operate any car accessories (radio, lights, or electronics) before turning on the car ignition and driving the vehicle.   When the car is on, the auto alternator generates electricity and charges the car battery after the battery has a voltage drop.   But if the car is not on, and you are using the car’s electronics, you are simply relying on the car battery to power those electronic equipment. 

This is detrimental to the car battery because car batteries are not meant for this sort of use.

Rather, car batteries are meant to offer a sudden burst of electricity for ignition.  They’re not made to offer prolonged power for electronics and other devices (that’s what a deep cycle lead acid battery would be for).   Using your car battery for a battery that powers electronics, rather than a battery that just gives you a burst of electricity for ignition, will damage the battery and significantly shorten it’s lifespan if it is repeatedly used in this fashion.   So avoid operating any car accessories or electronics while the car is off.

Tip 3: Make sure the car battery is safe and has great battery cables.   The battery needs to be secured at all times.  If a battery is jostling around it will be impaired and could short circuit.   This may ruin the battery — and even damage your car while creating a security risk.   The same could happen if you have bad battery cables (or they’re not connected correctly ).  So check your cables and make sure they have a secure connection also.

Tip 4: Insulate your car battery from extreme changes in temperature.  Protecting your vehicle battery from large changes in temperature will help maximize the battery’s lifespan.   To do this you can use a car battery insulation kit.   Newer model cars already have these kits installed typically.  But if your car does not have one, you can easily install one yourself.   Just be certain it fits your car’s battery compartment.  Generally the companies selling these battery insulation kits will have a form on their site where you can put in your car model and year, and it’ll tell you if your battery will match their kit — such as here (top of page).   These protective battery sleeves are usually made of plastic or an acid resistant, thermal resistant material.   These car battery insulation kits will insulate your battery and protect it while still allowing proper ventilation.

Tip 5: Fully charge your car battery at least once a week (use a car battery charger or shut-off if you have to).   Your car battery drains even when the car is off.  That happens because current is drawn from the battery by car accessories (radio, lights, etc.) or the car computers.   This is why folks come home from long vacations and find their car battery dead.  

Car battery chargers (regular or solar) will maintain the optimum charge level of your car battery when the vehicle is not being used.   They do it by providing enough power for your car accessories and car computer, so they do not always draw current from the vehicle battery when the vehicle is off.   As you can imagine, these chargers are very useful…especially if you go on a trip or leave your car unused for some time.  They’re also helpful if you go on a lot of short car trips (like to work and back each day) and never give your battery a opportunity to fully recharge.  Repeatedly doing so can dramatically enhance your battery’s life — unless you use a car battery charger or interchange batteries, leaving one at home to fully charge.   The main thing to remember with this tip is…be sure you fully charge your car battery at least once a week because it will greatly increase the life span of your battery.  Do this with a charger, interchanging batteries…or just going on a car ride long enough to recharge the battery.

Tip 6: Assess your vehicle battery’s water level.   Most car batteries indicate whether there’s a need for water.   So check the vehicle battery water level indicator regularly and if water is required, refill the battery with distilled water (and that’s important, ONLY use distilled water to refill your vehicle battery).

Never overcharge your car battery. Lead-acid batteries release hydrogen and oxygen gases when they are overcharged.   This causes two problems:

  1. It can be explosive.

Tip 8: Check your car’s alternator.   If you are doing everything we’ve recommended in this article but your automobile batteries are still dying early, you’ll want to check your car’s alternator (or find a mechanic to check it).   If your alternator is bad it will results in ineffective recharging of your battery and dramatically shorten your battery’s lifespan.