Every car comes with one, but some motorists act as if this
particular component is completely maintenance free. What am I
talking about? Your car's battery. Technological advances have
made "maintenance free" batteries standard equipment on
virtually every vehicle produced today. However, the term
"maintenance free" is a misnomer, one that can leave you
stranded if you do not perform proper and regular maintenance.
Battery maintenance isn't difficult to do, so let's take a look
at what you can do to keep your car running.
Before discussing battery maintenance, please make sure that
your battery is, in fact, the sealed type. If it isn't, then the
"maintenance free" label certainly does not apply and you will
need to add water on a regular basis. Unsealed batteries are
easy to spot as they have small vent caps on top of the battery
which can be twisted open. You will need to periodically add
distilled water to maintain water levels; more so in the summer
months as water tends to evaporate quicker. Do not let your
battery run low or run out of water as the battery's cells can
If your battery is of the sealed variety, then the "maintenance
free" label is still only partially true since the term only
extends to you not needing to add water to the cells as you
would with an unsealed battery.
With any type of car battery - sealed or unsealed - you must
do the following to help keep it working properly:
1. Clean the cables. Disconnect the cables from the
battery and clean them with a wire brush that has been doused in
a home made mixture [the mixture combines one tablespoon of
baking soda with one cup of water]. Use this same mixture to
clean off the top of the battery; use a small and clean paint
brush to apply the solution where needed.
2. Lubricate the posts. A small dab of petroleum jelly on
each post will help keep your cables clean and free of corrosion
longer. In addition, the jelly will make it easier for you to
slip the cables back onto the battery.
3. Check connections. Besides the connection between the
cable and the posts, make sure that the battery hold down bar is
securely in place. Not all cars have or need a battery hold down
bar, but if yours has come so equipped, you will need to put it
back in its proper place.
That's it! Car battery maintenance is an easy task and one that
should be performed on an annual basis. If you keep your battery
properly maintained, you will extend its life and greatly reduce
the chance that your battery will fail you at an inopportune
time. Yes, the "maintenance free" label is incorrect, so please
don't be lulled into forgetting to do something that should
never be overlooked.