The failure of a battery always comes at the worst time. This is one reason the experts recommend that car batteries be checked every three to six months, regardless of where you live.
Batteries Plus, which sells batteries of all kinds, is offering free car battery and electrical system testing. In an article at Search Auto Parts the battery company's CEO, Russ Reynolds, said that problems with batteries are not confined to cold weather climates.
"Heat and humidity can cause battery problems, too," he said. He offered some battery inspection and maintenance tips after a warning about the use of eye, hand and body protection when working around the acid and corrosive chemicals surrounding the explosive environment of the car battery.
Hold Downs - A battery is subject to vibration if it is not securely mounted to the battery tray on which it rests. A bracket at the top of the battery usually "holds down" the battery to the tray with the help of a couple of rods that attach to the tray. With the battery firmly mounted to the tray, you won't shake loose active material from the plate grids inside the battery, which will extend the its life.
Minimize Corrosion - Terminal connections should be corrosion free and tight at the point they connect to the battery. Reynolds recommends professional assistance if corrosion is observed. If the battery cable ends or clamps have accumulated a white powdery substance, they can be cleaned with a solution of water and baking soda. You can retard future corrosion by spraying the exposed metal parts with an anti-corrosion product.
Visual Inspection - If you observe any bulges, cracks or vents in the battery's case, it is an indication that the battery is failing and that you should replace it. While inspecting the battery try to keep it clean, since dirt can lead to a power leak resulting in "uncontrolled discharge and power loss."
Car batteries are surprisingly temperature sensitive. Reynolds recommends giving the battery a break from excessive heat by parking your car in the shade or in the garage. In cold weather he recommends keeping your battery fully charged but not overcharged. He also warns against attempting to charge a battery that is colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause a violent explosion.
Some batteries exceed their warranty period by many months while others fail prematurely, it may be one of the great unanswered automotive questions. Hopefully, the next battery that you replace will be out of concern for its advanced age.