How a battery test can save your bacon
Picture yourself in the parking lot of your local supermarket. You’ve just done the week’s grocery shopping. You’ve loaded up the trunk, buckled the kids in their car seats, and get ready to head home.
But when you turn the key, nothing. Your car won’t start, the kids are fussing and one of them might need a diaper change. Oh, did we mention it’s 95 degrees and you have frozen foods in the back?
We’ve heard it time and again: When car batteries fail, it’s always at the most inconvenient time. Here’s how to prevent scenes like this.
Get your battery tested
Routine testing isn’t just for school children. Your battery should be checked often for signs of weakness. We recommend a quick electronic battery test at Interstate All Battery Center (free) or your local Interstate Batteries dealer (prices vary). Many of our dealers include a battery test whenever they change your oil.
A test will show whether your battery is a-OK or on the verge of needing replacement. And replacing a battery before it fails can save your bacon, not to mention your ice cream and milk.
Know the warning signs
Often, a battery will drop subtle hints that bad things are afoot. Here are some signs that your battery may be struggling:
- Sluggish start. Your vehicle starts slowly or there is a slight pause or hesitation when starting the engine.
- Prolonged inactivity. A battery will slowly lose its charge simply from sitting unused for an extended period of time, especially in hot climates.
- Headlights or interior lights left on. Admit it – you’ve done this on accident a time or two. This will slowly drain your battery.
- After a jump-start. A failed start could indicate a battery condition that needs to be checked out. Don’t assume that your car will adequately recharge your battery while you drive. If you need to jump-start your car, get the battery checked.
What shortens battery life
Heat, cold and inactivity are a battery’s main adversaries. Although cold weather will gradually reduce the battery’s ability to generate power to start your vehicle, heat accelerates corrosion and other damage to internal battery components. That damage will ultimately reduce the life of your battery.
In other words, extreme heat kills your battery, but you often won’t notice it until the next cold snap.
Another enemy of battery life: too many short trips. By constantly shutting down and restarting your engine, you drain your battery of power.
Also, cleanliness is next to powerliness. OK, that’s not a real word, but stay with us here: Keeping your battery terminals clean and free of corrosion will help provide maximum starting power to your vehicle.
Remember, there’s no such thing as a convenient time for your battery to quit. Get it tested regularly. After you bring in the groceries, of course.