Because most of us have been staying home since the pandemic started last year, many items we used to deem as "essential" in our everyday lives suddenly took a back seat. Depending on your lifestyle, this list may include small things like make-up, watches, and bags, formal clothes and shoes, and as big as vehicles left unused in the garage.
It's a known fact that cars that are parked for long periods of time develop all sorts of problems. Aside from the tires developing flat spots and critters settling at the engine compartment, the battery stands to lose charge.
Make your battery last longer by giving it some TLC. Follow our simple but effective hacks to ensure you keep your battery in great shape and make it last longer.
- When leaving your vehicle, make sure that all doors, including the trunk and hood, are completely closed. When a door is left open, chances are, the dome light of the car is also on, and this can discharge the battery if left for a long period. Double-checking doors is a good habit both for security and battery health.
- In older model cars, leaving the headlights and other electrical devices on after shutting off the engine will discharge the battery. In later model vehicles, turning off the engine will cut all power. However, once you turn on the ignition, the lights and whatever nighttime accessories you left on will also be turned on. To lessen the load on your battery and charging system, it is still good practice to turn off the headlights and interior lights before switching off the engine.
- Dashcams with parking mode and parking surveillance options will continue to operate even if the car is not being used. Dashcams in park mode is directly powered by the car battery and will drain the battery power over time if the car is not used. To make life easier have your electrician add a switch so you can turn it on and off with ease if you are parked in a secure area and/or will not be driving or using your car for a few days.
- Oldtimers say that you can prevent the battery from discharging when not in use by disconnecting the battery negative cable or terminal. While this may help, remember that when you do this, the vehicle's ECU will lose power and may reset depending on the manufacturer's settings. For the majority of the manufacturers, this should not be a problem except in cases where you have installed a piggyback aftermarket system to tune your modified engine in which case the ECU will revert to its original program. Check with your dealer first if your vehicle will have issues if you disconnect the battery for a prolonged period of time.
- Clean your battery terminals and check if the battery clamp is loose or improperly seated. Corroded battery terminals and loose clamps will prevent full charging of the battery by the alternator. You may already have a partially discharged battery in the first place when you park your car, so discharge will be faster when left unused.
- When cleaning the battery terminals to get rid of corrosion, you can use a soft brush with a solution made from 250ml of warm water mixed with a tablespoon of baking soda.
- When a vehicle is not going to be used for an extended period, start the engine at least every 2 weeks and drive it about 5 to 10 kilometers to allow it to fully charge. If this is not possible, start the engine and keep it revved at 2000 RPM. Alternators start charging the battery at 2000 RPM, and just idling the engine at 800 to 1000 RPM will not allow it to fully charge. Maintain 2000 RPM for 5 minutes and leave the engine idle for another 10 minutes. For faster recharging, do not turn on any of the accessories.
- Lastly, the rate of discharge of a car battery due to parasitic loads (alarms, onboard computer box, radio/ stereo memories) depends on the age of the battery. Normal parasitic load can discharge an old battery faster than a new one. If you think your battery is already old, maybe it’s time to replace it. But before you do, have it checked by a certified Motolite technician.
In case of car problems, motorists can use the Motolite Res-Q App to call for help. Dead or even just discharged batteries can be attended to for free if you are a Motolite user. The Res-Q app can also be used for assistance in cases of flat tires, overheating, and emergency gasoline replenishment for minimal fees.