Car 101: Things That Ruin Your Car’s Battery Life

That tick-tick-tick of a dead battery is the last thing anyone wants to hear when they're running late.

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That tick-tick-tick of a dead battery is the last thing anyone wants to hear when they’re running late.

A dead car battery is a quick way to ruin your day, and winter introduces other ways for your battery to drain.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the health of your vehicle’s battery.

cold temperature

DAVID LINKLATER

There are plenty of things you can do yourself to ensure your car is healthy for cold weather driving.

A battery can lose up to 35% of its performance when temperatures reach the freezing point, and up to 50% if temperatures drop below. Drivers should pay attention to any signs of change – such as the way the car starts or the operation of the electrical system in general – as this can be a sign of a weak battery.

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Since the weather is out of our control, there’s not much to do, but something like a battery charger can help alleviate the issues. And don’t forget to also check for other things that could be wrong with your car, the cold doesn’t stop at the battery.

Too many short trips

Short trips drain your battery, as well as your fuel tank.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

Short trips drain your battery, as well as your fuel tank.

Doing a lot of short trips, especially in urban areas, also drains the battery, as it takes 150-350 amps of battery just to start the car, and on short trips the alternator won’t have the time or the ability to replace it. charge. After several short trips, your battery will soon be flat.

If you need to get away and it’s not raining outside, consider walking or biking. Or, you can try grouping a few more stops together to make sure your battery is properly charged. Plus, it saves fuel!

Parasitic emptying

Make sure your doors are securely closed to prevent lights from being left on at night.

Markus Spiske/Unsplash

Make sure your doors are securely closed to prevent lights from being left on at night.

This one might be obvious. Battery parasitic discharge is something that constantly drains your battery. It could be a headlight/dome light switch, alternator, or any other electrical gremlins. You can help avoid stray drains by turning off all lights and making sure your trunk, glove box, and doors are closed and locked before you leave the car.

Leaving your key too close to your car

It is not recommended to leave your car key in your car overnight or even on a hook near the car. If the key fob is too close to your car, it may continue to communicate with it, which could unnecessarily drain the battery of the car and the key fob.

self discharge

Car batteries will drain if left alone and it doesn't take long before they can start a car.

Christel Yardley / Stuff

Car batteries will drain if left alone and it doesn’t take long before they can start a car.

Your standard lead acid battery will naturally discharge at 0.1V per month, even on a shelf. That might not seem like a lot, but when you consider that a fully charged battery is 12.72v and a chemically discharged battery, how hard you’d have to start the car, is 11.8 V, in just eight months of non-use, the battery can seem empty. This is without taking into account additional drains which can also impact battery life. Another good reason to choose a trickle charger!

sulfation

If your battery drops below 12.4V, a chemical reaction called sulfation will begin to occur. This is where lead sulfate crystals begin to build up on the battery plates, degrading the battery, reducing battery capacity and cranking potential. Your vehicle will start easily if the battery is at 12.4V but be careful, your battery is already dying.