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Nothing can be quite as annoying as getting into your vehicle and discovering that it won’t start because of a dead battery. The cost of towing alone, not to mention having to wait for a service center to drop in a new battery and to diagnose whether some other cause in the electrical system caused the problem can lead to needless aggravation. Naturally, having your vehicle’s charging system checked during scheduled maintenance and replacing old batteries when they near the end of their operational lives will save a lot of time and money. In the meantime, How Stuff Works has some tips for making sure the battery runs properly.

Some Tips for a Battery

  • During winter months you should keep your vehicle in a well-insulated garage. Cold weather can cause battery discharge.
  • Failing a well-insulated garage, you can insulate the battery.
  • Periodically, unclamp the battery and clean the connections. Dirty connections can cause a weak charge.
  • Using a solar powered charger might work, though you should also use a monitor to make sure you don’t overdo it.
  • If your battery has cells that are accessible, check them for water levels and add distilled water as needed.
  • Finally, make sure that the battery is secured in its tray. A battery that is not secure could tip over during a sudden stop, spilling acid and wreaking havoc under the hood.

Another way to make sure that you’re not caught at the side of the road, your driveway, or in an office parking lot is to carry a pair of jumper cables. Being able to jump-start your car will save you some time and money waiting for a tow truck. If you succeed in starting your vehicle this way, drive immediately to a service center to get the problem fixed. Also, if you have an ailing battery, this method may not work at night when you have to have your headlights on.

How Long Batteries Last

Depending on what type of battery you use, generally a new one needs to be purchased and installed every five to seven years regardless of how it is performing. The best way to avoid finding yourself on the side of the road is to automatically change your battery, You should also take your vehicle in periodically for its scheduled maintenance so that any electrical issues will be caught before they become a problem. If you find that your vehicle takes longer to start than usual and the cranking of the engine seems sluggish, you should certainly get a new battery.

Finally

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