Do you consider your car's battery to be just another component and something else that could go wrong? You may have noticed that your car is not starting as efficiently as it used to, and somebody may have told you that your battery is "on the way out." Of course, you realise that nothing lasts forever, but you still wonder why you need to replace this so soon. Could your behaviour be affecting the life of this component? What should you know about the car battery, for increased longevity?
Some people think that as a battery is essentially a rechargeable unit, it should just continue being recharged ad infinitum. Of course, manufacturers will build in a degree of latency to every single product they sell, but when you remember that these units are filled with acid, it's not surprising that they will essentially decay. However, you can make a difference if you maintain it per the instructions.
You may have become used to checking the levels in the battery and topping them up with tap water if need be. This is also a mistake, as there are a number of impurities within tap water could cause a build-up on the electrical plates inside. You need to use distilled or demineralised water only and never let the battery run completely dry.
Sometimes, manufacturers will stick a label on the outside of the battery that says it's "maintenance free." This is a misnomer, as you should certainly keep an eye on the unit and clean any corrosion from around the terminals whenever you see it.
Some people are overly cautious and try and "save" the battery by disconnecting it when they go away on holiday. It's as if the unit will last longer and experience less wear and tear as a consequence. However, there are a variety of different internal systems linked to your car's on-board computer that require a certain amount of power (delivered by the battery) on a constant basis. If you disconnect all of this, your vehicle may not restart when you return.
Finally, don't make the mistake of thinking that a flat battery can be completely recharged simply by taking it for a quick drive around the block. Sometimes, you will encounter this problem if you leave the lights on inadvertently and think that a quick trip will do it. However, you need to connect the unit up to a multi-stage charger, preferably overnight, to bring everything back to the proper levels. If you don't, you are likely to shorten the battery life.
Looking to the Future
So the next time that you get a new battery, promise yourself that you will give it some TLC through its lifetime, so that you will get a lot more value for your money!