A healthy battery is one of the many key components to proper vehicle operation. It helps start the engine and helps keep the electronics running. It also lets you charge your phone and play your music – even when the engine is off.
As you might expect, automotive batteries gradually lose power over time, and hot weather is especially hard on them – but a few simple preventive measures will go a long way toward keeping your car battery in tip-top condition.
One of the main safety concerns with batteries is the small possibility of shock. Car batteries are referred to as “lead-acid” because they contain lead plates submerged in sulphuric acid to store and release electricity.
Even if it's too weak to start your car, a battery may still be able to give you a shock – so don't smoke near it. Also, be careful with tools when tightening or loosening terminal connectors; tools can easily slip and bridge the gap between the positive and negative terminals, which could lead to burns or a shock
Keep the cable connections clean and tight. Corroded battery terminals and connectors will compromise the ability of the starter motor to draw current from the battery, and for the charging system to keep it topped up. You can remove corrosion from the terminals and connectors with a stiff brush, sandpaper or a wire brush.
If the battery has caps that let you check the water level, keep it up to the full-mark, usually just under an inch from the top of the cell. You can use distilled water but tap water is also fine. Do wear eye protection – safety glasses or goggles – when doing so.
The battery is normally held in place with a retaining strap – and this should be tightly clamped so the battery can't slide around.
If the battery is sound but too weak to start your car, the alternator may be able to recharge it as you drive. The trick is to get the car going, and jump-starting will often do the job. But before you get out the cables, check your vehicle's owner's manual for detailed instructions of what to do. Some carmakers advise against jump-starting to protect the car's electronics from a power surge.
Some batteries have a "state of charge" indicator: a fully charged battery has a coloured indicator, usually green or red. Black or clear means the battery is completely discharged and you should not try to recharge or jump-start it.
If you don’t know why your battery went dead, get it checked. Almost any dealership service department can check the condition of your battery and charging system in a matter of minutes and many will perform this service free of charge for loyal service customers.
Your nearest Quick Lane Service Centre will complete this service without the need for an appointment. Every Quick Lane Service Centre keeps stocks of batteries for all makes of vehicle from Motorcraft (Ford) and Omincraft (all other makes).