Batteries & Electrical

How to Maintain Your Car Battery

All the advice you need to keep your battery running in tip-top shape

A vehicle’s electrical system is often neglected until one day your car won’t start! But with a bit of maintenance here and there, you can save yourself money and inconvenience in the long run! Checking the condition of your battery isn’t difficult, and the tools to do the job aren’t expensive. Here we have some handy tips and tricks to help get you started.

How To Maintain Your Battery

With proper maintenance you can help prolong your battery's life and performance, by simply following the tips below you could save both time and money in the long run.

Proper Battery Maintenance:

  • Drive the vehicle regularly, the battery is only charged when the vehicle is running and if left stationary the charge will drain overtime. If the vehicle is being stored for long periods, attaching a maintenance charger will help keep the battery charged.
  • Regularly service the vehicle, if the engine is running poorly chances are it's pulling more power from the battery as well.
  • Avoid draining the battery completely, regular discharges severely reduce battery life.
  • Vibration from day to day driving is also a factor in early battery failure, a good preventitive method is to check the battery clamps that hold the battery down, if the clamps are damaged they are best to be replaced with new ones.
  • Have the battery tested, Supercheap Auto provides battery testing at all our stores, the test does not cost anything and can be performed in a few minutes.

Checking Your Battery Leads

Overtime the battery leads can become damaged or worn and may need replacing. Damaged leads can cause the vehicle to not start, as power from the battery cannot flow to the vehicle and complete the circuit. Supercheap Auto stock a comprehensive range of replacement battery leads to fit most vehicles.

How to check your leads:

  • Remove the cables from the battery, make sure to remove the negative terminal first, this is usually marked with the minus '-' sign.
  • Visually inspect the cable, if any cuts or breaks are visible on the outer surface, it is best to replace the cable.
  • Corrosion can also occur at the ends of the cable, if corrosion is visible, it is best to replace the cable.
  • If the cables are in good condition refit to the vehicle. Be sure to reverse the procedure, positive cable '+' first and then negative '-'

Checking your Battery Terminals

Battery terminals like most things work best when kept clean and free of corrosion. Heavily corroded or damaged terminals can even prevent your vehicle from starting as they add a layer of resistance between the vehicle and the battery, hence it is vital that the terminals are kept clean or replaced if damaged. Supercheap Auto stock a comprehensive of replacement battery terminals as well as tools to help keep them clean.

How to check your terminals:

  • You should check the battery terminals for corrosion and damage every 6 months.
  • If the battery terminals have minor corrosion, they should be cleaned with a wire brush.
  • If the terminal is damaged or cracked, it will need to be replaced. Your local Supercheap Auto store has a range of terminals available to fit most applications.

Choosing a Battery Charger

Battery chargers are an essential piece of equipment for DIY, but choosing the right one can be tricky. To make the decision simple we use engine size to determine which battery charger will work best for each situation. For added peace of mind all Battery charges that we stock include overload, reverse polarity and short circuit protection.

How to Pick a Charger:

  • All chargers are rated with an output in amps 'A', a larger battery generally requires a higher output charger to charge, a smaller battery will require a lower output charger.
  • 1 - 2.5amp Chargers - Perfect for small and infrequently used 12-volt engines such as lawn mowers, jet skis and classic cars less than 2.0 litres. This charger can charge a battery from 0 volts (completely flat) back up to full charge.
  • 3 - 4amp Chargers - These are designed for small to medium 4 cylinder cars up to 2.5 litres.
  • 8amp+ - Suitable for small to medium 4 and 6 cylinder cars up to and exceeding 3.0 litres.
  • Supercheap Auto stocks a comprehensive range of chargers for different applications, see your local Supercheap Auto store for more information.

How to Store a Battery

The best thing to do with a car battery is to actually use it in a vehicle. If however it is not feasible for the battery to be used and you must store a battery for an extended period. We have some tips to keep your battery in tip-top condition.

Tips to store your Battery:

  • Disconnect and remove the battery from your vehicle. If however you're leaving the battery in the car, remember to disconnect the cables as this will stop your vehicle from gradually draining the battery. When disconnecting always remember to remove the negative '-' cable first.
  • Check the battery water level, and fill if necessary to the recommended level with distilled water.
  • Charge the battery to its full capacity, after charging it is recommended that you recheck the water level.
  • If storing for an extended period of time it is recommended to attach a maintenance charger, as the battery will slowly lose charge.

Battery Water Level Check

It's important to frequently check the water (electrolyte) level in your car's battery. The water will overtime naturally evaporate as the battery is charged and discharged. This is one of the easiest checks to do yourself on your car battery but it is important to do it safely.

How to Check the Water Level:

  • The first step is to check the side of the battery for the current water level, most battery's will have a indicator along the side showing the full level.
  • The next step is to locate and open the filling caps located on top of the battery, they can occasionally be hidden under a flap.
  • If the battery water level is low, you can safely refill the battery by using a Hydrometer and distilled or demineralised water.
  • Always take care when checking the level and when filling the battery, as the battery contains acid which is hazardous if spilt.