Taking care of your car battery is essential – and not overly complicated – when you know the basics. That being said, a car battery is a powerful source of energy that can be dangerous if not treated with care. The next time you pop the hood, make sure you use these top three safety tips to keep you (and your battery) out of harm’s way.
How to: keep it clean
Cleaning your battery is an important step in prolonging the life of your battery and keeping it in peak performance shape. That being said, cleaning the battery can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Before you even get started, make sure you have:
– Baking soda and water
– Small brush ( if you don’t have a wire cleaning brush, an old toothbrush will work in a pinch)
– Gloves and protective eyewear
Using the wrench, disconnect the cables from the battery. Then mix a solution using 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of hot water. This will help remove any corrosion that has begun to build up on the battery.
Next, dip the brush into the solution to assist with scouring away the buildup. Use the towel to dry the battery off before reconnecting the cables. While you’re at it, make sure you clean away any dirt on the battery as well. Dirt is a conductor and can increase the rate of self-discharge, shortening the life of the battery.
Pro-Tip: Applying petroleum jelly to the battery posts and the connector clamps help prevent corrosive build up.
How to: give it a jump
Improperly jump starting a car can be bad, very bad. By not taking care and making sure you know exactly what you’re doing, you could fry the electrical system in both cars – something we definitely want to avoid.
Before you get started, make sure both cars are turned off and you’ve unplugged any devices inside both cars, such as phone chargers.
– Carefully attach a red clip to the positive terminal on the charged battery.
– Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the battery needing to be charged.
– Attach the black clip to the negative terminal of the battery needing to be charged.
– Attach the other black clip to an unpainted metal surface on the car that is not in need of charging. DO NOT ATTACH IT TO THE NEGATIVE TERMINAL. To do so could cause an explosion.
– Start the charged car and let the engine run for a few minutes.
– Attempt to start the car being charged.
– If the car does not start, allow the other car to run for up to five minutes.
– If the car will still not start, the battery is likely completely dead and will need to be replaced.
– If the car does start, DO NOT TURN IT OFF. The car will need to be driven for at least 15 minutes at highway speeds to fully recharge the battery.
– If the car will not start again after being jumped and recharged, then the battery is not holding a charge and will need to be replaced.
Pro-Tip: Don’t attempt to jumpstart a car in freezing temperatures without first checking to see if the battery fluid is frozen. Attempting the jump a battery with frozen fluids could cause the battery to explode, creating a whole host of other problems.
How to: keep it charged
Knowing how to properly charge your battery can help prolong the life of the battery and keep it performing at peak levels. Doing it wrong can not only shorten the life of the battery but it can be dangerous as well.
Keep in mind that simply driving your car at speeds of 60 mph or higher will keep the battery charged, so unless you plan on storing the car (or that particular battery) for a period of time, you don’t need to take extreme charging measures.
– Only charge a battery in a well-ventilated area. The charging process causes the battery to heat up which creates fumes that are highly combustible.
– Do not charge the battery in extreme temperatures.