Keep your battery in tip-top shape

Keep your battery in tip-top shape

Batteries, like tires, have a life expectancy
Kip Doyle
car battery

Batteries, like tires, have a life expectancy  ̶  typically three to five years in our area. Although all batteries will fail eventually, there are some things that you can do to prolong a battery’s life.

“Avoid misuse, such as leaving lights on or running the accessory mode for long periods of time,” Steve Steinmetz, director of automotive services for AAA Western and Central New York, says. “Also, check for visible signs of corrosion, and keep your battery terminals clean.”

In addition, Steinmetz says, using the car regularly helps its battery stay healthy.

“Just drive your car,” he says. “Taking regular trips allows the charging system to work as it is intended, to recharge your battery and keep it in top shape.”

One frequent problem in this part of the country – batteries sitting unused in cars all winter – can be solved easily.

“We do see a number of battery problems in vehicles that are left unattended, such as when snowbirds leave a car here over the winter,” Steinmetz says. “In these situations, a great item to invest in is a AAA-approved battery tender.”

Tenders plug into a standard 110-volt outlet and emit a trickle charge capable of keeping a battery’s charge level at minimum standards, Steinmetz says. Purchase your tender at the  AAA Car Care Plus location in Clarence, from drivers of AAA-owned roadside assistance trucks or at major retail stores. 

You should always be on the lookout for signs your battery is getting weak, which can be hastened by driving and weather conditions, mileage, vehicle age, and excessive electrical draws like in-vehicle entertainment systems.

“A telltale sign your battery could be on its last legs is when you notice dim headlights and interior lights, that your accessories fail to operate, or the ‘check engine’ or battery light comes on,” Steinmetz says.

Other things to look out for? “You experience hard-starting, including a slow turnover,” he says. 

And there’s one more easy thing AAA members can do, Steinmetz says.

“When in doubt, get your battery tested,” he says. “It’s free as part of your AAA membership.”

Will your battery last all winter? AAA will test your old battery and – if necessary – deliver and install a new battery right in your driveway or even at your office. Testing, delivery, and installation are available in most areas, and are free for AAA members.