By Lauren Reid
Published: Friday, January 12, 2018
Updated: February 21, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Summer is a prime time for battery failure. So, what can you do to look after your battery and prevent it from going bust? RAA’s Technical Advisory Service deals with these kinds of questions every day, and they’ve provided us with some of their top tips.
1. Keep it clean
The battery terminals – the connections on your car that attach to your battery – are a key place where moisture and dirt can build up. If you notice a white, ashy deposit in this area, corrosion might be the cause.
A simple way to clean your battery terminals is wiping them down with a solution of baking soda and warm water. Once dry, a swipe of petroleum jelly can prevent further build-up. Just make sure to wear protective gloves and glasses when cleaning.
You might need some professional assistance if the corrosion is particularly bad, so always check your owner’s manual and don’t be afraid to give our Technical Advisory Service a call or head to an Approved Repairer if you’re unsure.
2. Drive your car regularly
We recommend making sure you drive your car at least a couple of times a week to keep the battery ticking over – and these should be longer trips than just popping to the shops. This is because longer trips give the battery more time to charge. This problem is something to be mindful of throughout your battery’s life, but is more common in older batteries.
3. Look out for warning signs
The biggest clue is usually noticing that the engine turns over slower than normal or is generally sluggish to start. If this is starting to happen and the battery is more than two to three years old, then it’s likely that your battery has an issue and could be on borrowed time.
4. Consider getting a free battery check-up
RAA can deliver a replacement battery – and install it for you – if you’re caught out in the heat this summer, but it’s always best to avoid an emergency situation, so members can visit a Battery Service Centre for a free battery check-up. You might want to get a check-up as soon as you notice your engine is slow to start, to help avoid things escalating.
5. Check the battery is mounted securely
While you’re checking the cleanliness of your battery, check it’s sitting securely too.
To make sure the electrical current is flowing properly, the connections need to be fitted tightly. This is another instance where it can be helpful to know how your battery looks compared to diagrams or instructions in your owner’s manual.
However, we wouldn’t recommend trying to take out or re-mount your battery if you notice something’s wrong, due to the potential for serious injuries – this is one for the professionals.
6. Get your car serviced regularly
Some batteries can fail without clear warning signs, so regular servicing can help pick up less obvious problems – like issues with the alternator, or the battery’s charging system – and prevent problems getting worse which could shorten the life of the battery.