No battery, no commute, so take care of your vehicle’s battery.
1. Avoid prolonged periods of inactivity
Modern vehicles have computers that monitor various aspects and functions. When parked, most of these computers go to sleep, but one or two may awaken at select periods to monitor certain things, like the security system. This, naturally, puts a small load on the vehicle’s battery and causes it to discharge.
If a vehicle is to be parked for more than a week, it is advisable to connect a good quality trickle charger to the battery to keep it charged up for the next engine start and commute. Trickle chargers of higher quality are also able to desulphate lead sulphate crystals built up on the battery plates to improve the battery’s health.
If you live in a HDB flat or condominium where power outlets are not available, consider disconnecting the negative terminal lead instead to cut off any electrical draw.
2. Avoid too many short journeys
Along with not letting a vehicle sit parked for too long, short start-stop journeys put a huge strain on the electrical system since the alternator would not have sufficient time to charge the battery up.
Modern vehicles also feature auto start-stop technology which kills an engine when stopped in traffic and starts it up again when one is ready to move off. Auto start-stop is an even larger strain, and combined with short journeys actually accelerate battery drain.
If your typical commute involves short journeys of five kilometers or less, or a purely street-based commute with multiple traffic-light stops , consider taking a longer drive of around 50-100km at least once a week, if not twice.
Simply jump on the nearest highway and drive around the island until you circumnavigate your way back home, or go visit a relative or friend who lives further away. This will allow the alternator to charge more optimally and the battery itself won’t be subject to heavier loads during a longer distance cruise.
3. Unplug cables and accessories
Parasitic draw is a large but often hidden cause of battery drain. Mechanics have encountered situations where a brand new battery goes flat within a month, and the parasitic-draw issue was painstakingly tracked down to an errant electrical accessory that continued to stay powered on while the vehicle was turned off.
Consider disconnecting your USB cables and devices, and any other accessories that are powered by the vehicle’s electrical system before locking and leaving your vehicle. Also ensure the interior and exterior lights are turned off.
4. Keep the terminals clean
Another source of poor electrical performance in a vehicle is corroded battery terminals. We’re talking about the unsightly green powdery stuff that builds up on the terminals and can cause connection issues.
A DIY remedy is to pour some hot water on the terminals to flush away the build-up. A small copper brush and degreaser can also help with cleaning duties.
Once the terminals are free from corrosion, apply a thin layer of automotive grease to the terminals to reduce the incidence of such corrosion. Also inspect the terminals once a month and during each service for any corrosion.
5. Have the battery tested periodically
Most of us don’t own a battery tester, and here’s where AutoApp can help. When booking a service, you can request to have your vehicle’s battery health ascertained.
This involves connecting a tester to the terminals and applying a load to see if the battery’s rated cranking amps (CA) or cold cranking amps (CCA) matches what the tester is seeing. Readings that are significantly lower could be indicative of a battery on its last legs.
6. Do not wait to replace an ageing battery
A tell-tale sign of a dying battery is a noticeably longer duration to crank the engine over into life. Engine cranking would also be slower and feel more strained.
Another, for more modern cars with auto start-stop technology, is the engine remains running while an advisory warning pops up on the instrument cluster saying something to the effect of “Auto Start/Stop Unavailable – Battery Charge” or similar.
One more is a bunch of unrelated error messages and codes that get thrown up once the vehicle is started.
All of these point to a battery that’s on its way out.
Since no one likes to be left stranded with a dead vehicle, have your vehicle’s battery tested periodically and changed every three to five years for peace of mind.
Save the hassle with AutoApp
Contact AutoApp for more information on how you can take the hassle out of maintaining your vehicle.