After you install a new car battery, it is important to keep an eye on the part to ensure optimal usage. Taking time once a month to inspect the battery will help catch problems before they wind up leaving you with another battery that needs to be replaced.
If you live in a region that experiences extreme temperatures, you'll need to take precautions when the thermostat dips down low or things start to really heat up. Many drivers believe only cold temperatures affect the life and performance of an automotive battery, but hot weather can be just as damaging, if not even worse. In the summer months, high temperatures can actually cause the acid inside the battery to evaporate, which can damage the inside of the battery.
Cold weather is more likely to cause the acid in the battery to behave sluggishly, and it also increases oil thickness. These two factors combined are a common reason for dead batteries in the winter. When a battery dies and recharges frequently, this can shorten its overall life. In cold months, you should keep your vehicle in an insulated garage whenever possible to protect the battery from the low temperatures. If you don't have a garage, there are battery insulators that provide the same protection, and are easy to install.
Another thing to keep an eye on is over- or under-charging. If the voltage regulator or other components of the charging system go bad, it can lead to the battery receiving the incorrect charge. The effects of this issue are gradual, but they still kill a battery faster than if everything was in running order. You can test the battery's charge with a voltmeter that connects to the terminals.
Another thing to watch out for is corrosion around the terminal posts. If battery acid escapes through these ports, it will oxidize when it hits the air and form a powdery white buildup around the terminals. This can diminish the transfer of electricity from the battery to the terminal wires, which will make it difficult to start the car, and may cause other problems.
If you notice this buildup, it's easy to clean it off with a bit of baking soda and water, or you can use a specialized cleaner designed for this purpose. Just be sure to wear gloves when dealing with corrosion, as it can harm your skin. A hard-bristle brush should be enough to clean off the terminals. You can also try using chemically treated washers that are designed to prevent corrosion on the terminal posts.
When you're inspecting the battery, try to jostle it. If it moves, you should check the clamps holding it in place. They may have broken or come loose. This can potentially lead the battery to tip over and possibly smash into other parts of the engine. Not only can this damage your car, but it could also spill battery acid in the engine bay or even crack the battery.
There's not much more to battery maintenance other than this. Follow these simple guidelines and your battery will live a full life. Plus, when you take care of your battery, you're far less likely to find it dead when you're trying to get to work. However, it is always a good idea to be prepared. You should keep a set of jumper cables in the trunk of your car on the off chance the battery does die.