Tips for battery care & maintenance

Tips for battery care & maintenance

Your battery is the true lifeline of your vehicle. Lets take a closer look at how they work, tips for maintenance and reasons why your battery might not be working properly.

Your battery is the true lifeline of your vehicle. Lets take a closer look at how they work, tips for maintenance and reasons why your battery might not be working properly.

Batteries mast
How do batteries work 50:50

How do batteries work?

When the key is turned (or button pushed), this sends a signal to your vehicle’s battery. The signal informs the battery that it’s time to convert some of its chemical energy into electrical energy. The electricity generated as a result of this conversion is delivered to the starter to crank the engine. The vehicle’s lights and other electrical accessories also receive the power they need, and you’re off and running (or in this case, driving).

How long do batteries last?

This is a very important question that can have varying answers. But on the whole, you can expect a car battery to last between three and five years. At around three years of use, it’s wise to get your battery tested. After five years, batteries can be prone to fail without notice, so it’s best to think about replacing it.

A Belle Tire tech is using a flashlight to inspect a green-encased car battery.
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What should I be looking for in a replacement battery?

Determining the right replacement battery is crucial to keeping your vehicle running smoothly and protecting its sensitive electrical systems. The best way to determine the specific needs for a new battery is to check your vehicle owner’s manual or consult the specifications of your old battery from the manufacturer. This will help you determine if you need a deep cycle or starting battery, the correct battery size, and the CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) rating.

How do I inspect my battery?

It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t do any inspection or cleaning with the engine running or keys in the ignition. When doing a visual inspection, look to see if the battery cables and clamps are frayed or corroded. If you notice either of these things, it’s wise to have a Belle Tire professional take a look and see if they need to be replaced, or simply cleaned up. Also, if you notice any cracks at all in the battery case, it’s important to have it replaced, regardless of how it’s performing. In general, a battery that’s kept clean and secure lasts longer than one that’s ignored and neglected.

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What are the causes of battery failure?

A battery installed in a vehicle that hasn’t been started for a long period of time is susceptible to failure because it slowly discharges over time. Likewise with a vehicle that has a drain or draw that’s stealing voltage from the battery when the engine isn’t running. Eventually, this battery will lose its ability to maintain a charge. Frigid temperatures can also have an effect, since the engine needs more amperage to start, and a cold battery can struggle to supply it. There’s also the chance that a battery can suffer a loss of electrolyte, which results in one of its cells being exposed to the air. Movement under the hood, rapid temperature changes or some combination of the two can sometimes cause this. When it does happen, the battery quickly goes from working just fine to not working at all, and requires immediate replacement. A failed or faulty alternator can also over-charge the battery, causing the electrolyte to leak. Conversely, an alternator that stops charging can force the vehicle's entire ignition and electrical system to run off of the battery. This causes a quick and rapid drain.

How can I tell if I have a dead battery?

Hearing a click or buzz when you try to start the car is a sign that your battery is likely dead. A radio, headlights or windshield wipers that won’t turn on when the key is in the ignition is another indicator that the battery’s charge is probably depleted. If you inspect the battery and see that it appears to be swollen or fatter than normal, it’s likely been overcharged and will need to be replaced. Finally, if you notice a faint smell of sulfur or rotten eggs, your battery might be toast. Luckily, Belle Tire can help you find the right replacement.

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How do I know if my battery is dying?

Luckily, there are a few simple ways to see if your battery might be on its last legs. If your headlights seem dimmer than normal, a replacement might be in order. A slower-cranking engine (when temperatures haven’t dropped) may also be a sign that a new battery is needed. A sure-fire way to see exactly how your battery is faring is to hook it up to a tester that attaches to the battery like jumper cables. This can let you know how much charge is left in it and if it’s firing on all cylinders (so to speak). You can purchase a tester and keep in your toolkit, or you can always swing by your local Belle Tire and let one of our skilled technicians take a look.

Battery Maintenance Tips: SummerBattery Maintenance Tips: Summer

Too much summer heat can significantly shorten a battery’s lifespan. Believe it or not, batteries are more likely to fail in hot weather than in cold, due to excessive heat causing the battery’s fluid to evaporate. This causes the battery’s charge to weaken, which can result in plate corrosion. Following some simple tips can help keep that from occurring and help your battery last longer.


1. Clean your battery terminals of any dirt and/or corrosion. Dirt can act as a conductor to drain your battery power faster. Corrosion on the terminals can act as an insulator, causing your battery to work harder to overcome the inhibited current flow.

2. Park in the shade to avoid too much direct sunlight on your hood. This can help extend the life of your battery by keeping it a few degrees cooler.

3. Using a trickle charger on your battery in the summer months can help offset the drain from the hotter weather. If your vehicles will sit idle for a long period of time, this is especially important. It will help preserve the battery’s life and keep it from completely losing its charge while it’s not being used.

4. Avoid short trips if possible. They can put added strain on your battery since the alternator needs time to recharge it after starting the engine.





Battery Maintenance Tips: WinterBattery Maintenance Tips: Winter

The winter months can be especially hard on a car battery. Engines can be more difficult to start since the oil inside them thickens, demanding more current from a battery every time. Also, lower temperatures mean that the chemical reactions that generate electricity occur more slowly. These tips can help keep your battery performing at its peak, even when the mercury plummets.

1. Visually inspect the battery for leaks, cracks or any other damage. The cables and the battery itself should be corrosion-free. Also, be sure the cable ends are properly secured to the battery posts, and check the cables for any wear or damage.

2. Park in a garage if possible. Keeping your battery out of frigid winds and temperatures help keep its power level from dropping. If your vehicle does have to sit outside for more than a few hours, let the engine run periodically to warm things up.


Parts of a batteryParts of a battery

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