In a manner not too dissimilar to our own nervous system, the modern-day car is made up of an entire network of copper wires measuring up to a mile in length. And at the heart of this vast electrical network which often weighs over 60 pounds, lies the car’s battery. So what exactly does this battery do? Well, apart from converting chemical energy into electrical energy in order to start your car, it also stabilizes the voltage necessary to keep all the electrical components in your vehicle working efficiently.

Given the crucial role played by the battery in the functioning of your car, it is imperative that you keep it in excellent working condition at all times. A malfunctioning battery system, one that is either low on energy, has loosened terminals or a faulty alternator, will lead to your vehicle not starting up at all, the electrical system to work in an erratic manner or will cause the battery to discharge more rapidly than usual.

What, then, are some of the considerations to keep in mind so as to ensure the healthy life and working of your car’s battery system? Well, for one, ensure that you do not leave the lights and other electrical accessories on when the engine is not running. When your vehicle’s engine is running, the alternator is a device which keeps your battery charged. However, it needs at least twenty minutes in order to build up a decent amount of charge. So, as much as possible, avoid making too many short trips, taking one that lasts for at least half an hour from time to time, so that the car’s battery is able to acquire sufficient amounts of charge.

While your car’s battery has a considerably long lifespan, ranging from about a maximum of around 56 months in relatively cold weather to about 30 months in regions of extreme heat (the weather has quite the influence on the life of your vehicle’s battery),  keeping the battery in optimal condition will go a long way in ensuring its longevity. Try to use quality components only when it comes to replacing parts of the battery, preferably installed and checked by a professional, and make sure that the terminals of the battery are clean and free from corrosion.

If you do not prefer taking your vehicle to a professional every time to get the battery checked, there are a few ways in which you can perform the check yourself as well. One of the ways to check if your battery has enough juice is to use a voltmeter or a power probe. After carefully removing the battery’s terminal cover (make sure that you are using safety gloves while doing so), connect the leads of either of the devices to the corresponding positive and negative terminals of the battery. The reading needs to be between 12.4 to 12.7 volts, a lower voltage indicating that your battery needs to be charged while a lower one meaning that the battery has been overcharged and needs some discharging (preferably by turning on the dipper for some time).

With the voltmeter or the power probe attached to the terminals, you can even try cranking your engine by turning the key in the ignition and holding it there for a couple of seconds. The voltmeter/power probe should ideally show a reading of 9.6 volts, anything meaning that the battery has sulphated and needs maintenance. Keep these pointers in mind when dealing with your car’s battery and you will have ensured a long and efficient run for your car and its electrical system.

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