I have many memories with a bad car battery. One time, I was about to pick up my girlfriend before going to a class outside of our university. Just like any ordinary day, I got into my car and started it. During my last turn of the ignition, all the lights and the sounds turned black. It was as if there was no charge.
I panicked. We still had an outside class to go to. In my panic, my first instinct was to call her and tell her that my battery wasn’t working. She had just taken an Uber to the campus, and she was dismayed. Slowly coming to my senses, I remembered that I had to remove the battery from the circuit a few days ago. I then checked my battery compartment and tightened the black cable connected to the battery, the negative terminal. I got back into the car, and lo and behold, the car started fine. Thankfully, my girlfriend hadn’t been able to book an Uber yet.
Your car battery is the powerhouse of your entire vehicle. It provides the powerful first spark that starts your car and gets it running. As important as it is, it is one of the most common sources of problems you can have in a car. How then, can we avoid stressful situations concerning the battery?
Let’s first know how the battery works. The car battery’s primary function is to provide enough power for your car starter to start the car. Once the engine starts, the alternator takes over in keeping your car powered. The alternator also recharges your battery every time you drive you car. The battery then powers your lights, alarms, and other electronics even when the engine is off. Even if your car is parked for days and weeks, your battery is still functioning. It keeps your clock, alarm, and lock system running. It provides power for the computer’s memory. Your battery is good for an average of two to three years in Philippine climate and driving conditions.
My first tip in taking care of your battery is to avoid turning on your lights or your car radio for extended periods of time when the engine is not running. Again, when the engine is off, the lights, radio, and other electronics suck energy directly from the battery. There are many stories of car batteries that were depleted because emergency lights were left on and car doors weren’t closed properly, leaving the lights on.
Second, drive regularly! As I mentioned, your alternator also charges your battery. The higher RPMs you work your engine and the longer you drive, the more that the alternator can generate electricity to replenish your battery. This is essential since again, your battery is working 24/7—even when the engine is off.
Clean the tips and battery terminals regularly. The gunk that gets on the connection points can prohibit the flow of energy to the car. This gunk—dirt, debris, oxidation—slowly damages your tips and terminals and take away from your battery’s life. Sometimes, battery acid can get out and corrode your tips and terminals. Cleaning is a way for you not to have to buy new terminals, or worse, a new battery.
Make sure that the battery is secured in place. Whether it’s in the engine bay or in your trunk, you don’t want your battery to shake out of place. This can run the battery loose of the terminals or even damage your battery.
Check your battery level regularly. Often, automotive electrical or battery shops can do this for free. A normal functioning battery should read between 12.4 to 12.6 volts.
Finally, learn to let go. At some point, your old battery will need replacing. In the Philippines, you should change your battery every two years on average. When you notice your exterior and interior lights lose brightness, and when you begin needing to push-start your car, your car is overdue for a battery change. If your battery reads below 10.5 volts and you externally charge it back to the optimum range, it’s likely that your voltage will fall back rapidly.
Your car battery needs a special amount of consideration given that it is the powerhouse of your car. Battery maintenance is relatively simple, and these small checks can ensure a hassle and worry-free drive. This is a friendly reminder from your Acom family to always be responsible and to be prepared for the road ahead. God bless you!
Laukkonen, Jeremy. “Charging and Maintaining Your Car Battery.” Lifewire, Lifewire, 30 July 2017, www.lifewire.com/car-battery-maintenance-534766.
Magbanua, Ian. “Knowing the Types of Car Batteries Is Essential.” Top Gear Philippines, Top Gear Philippines, 5 June 2017, www.topgear.com.ph/features/tip-sheet/car-battery-tip-sheet-a1539-20170605.
Peterson, Josh. “6 Great Car Battery Maintenance Tips.” HowStuffWorks, HowStuffWorks, 6 Dec. 2011, auto.howstuffworks.com/under-the-hood/vehicle-maintenance/car-battery-maintenance-tips.htm.
Photo from Pixabay
Josh Jimenez is a Broadcast Communication student and lover of sweet, simple things. He is a European automobil enthusiast whose dream car is a BMW M3. Josh also loves to play the guitar and is a follower of Anthony Bourdain’s macro-level perspective on food. Ad majorem Dei gloriam!