Vehicle Battery Maintenance Made Easy: How to Stay Secure With Cartrack

There's a popular misconception that all your battery needs is a jumpstart to stay healthy. This false theory, however, has left many drivers stuck with a failing battery while completely baffled, not knowing what the issue is. 

Don’t wait until you see the battery light flashing on your dashboard to take action and start maintaining your battery. Our blog is the handy guide you need to reduce breakdowns and avoid costly battery repairs.

Let’s dive in.

In this article, you will:

  • Uncover the importance of vehicle health and the role of battery maintenance
  • Discover popular types of batteries and their maintenance requirements
  • Understand when to maintain or replace your vehicle battery
  • Get actionable steps to preserve your car battery and extend its lifespan
  • Explore Cartrack solutions that safeguard your vehicle battery

Importance of vehicle health

One part of the vehicle that is often disregarded when talking about vehicle health and maintenance is the battery. The battery and the engine are two parts that make the vehicle able to function and move, but often enough, the focus is only on the engine.

Let’s change that, shall we?

Your battery is responsible for providing power to your engine and lights, allowing you to change gears and be on your way. When the engine is turned off, it also powers all the other electrical components of your vehicle, like your radio or air conditioner.

A well-maintained battery can have a long service life, provide reliable performance and also prevent unexpected and costly breakdowns from happening. To achieve this, it needs top-notch servicing.

Different stages of vehicle servicing

Before we start focusing solely on our vehicle batteries, let’s first see the bigger picture of your whole vehicle. What use is a healthy and thriving battery if it works with parts that aren't running efficiently?

To keep your vehicle as healthy as can be, servicing is recommended every few months to ensure small issues are checked and fixed and don’t grow to be costly if ignored. Vehicle inspections are determined by their make, model and mileage. Depending on these 3 factors, different types of vehicle maintenance plans can be recommended to ensure that every part, from tyres and oil to battery and engine, is running at tip-top shape:

  1. Interim car service

    These are small but important basic vehicle checkups that are encouraged every 15 000 km—22 000 km. They include your vehicle’s oil changes, fitting in new oil filters, light vehicle inspection, and checking for any leaks. This type of servicing is recommended at least once a year, even if your vehicle hasn’t reached the specific mileage target.

  2. Full car service

    This service is encouraged around 20 000 km and includes all basic checkups of minor servicing. It also includes inspections of some critical parts, including your brakes, lights, steering, tyres, windscreen, vehicle fluids like hydraulic fluids and testing components like starter, alternator, and battery.

  3. Major car service

    This service is recommended every 30 000 km—45 000 km and includes maintenance of all the vehicle parts mentioned in the minor and full servicing, as well as other parts that might cause the car to fail, such as replacing the air filter, spark plug, and brake fluid, if left unattended.

    For major servicing, you can also include the following to ensure your vehicle stays in tip-top shape:

    - Wheel alignment
    - Suspension checks
    - Tyre tread tests
    - Checking brake pads and brake discs

    If your car is still under warranty, you would have to service your vehicle following preset intervals. If it's out of warranty, then there’s more flexibility in the timing and services performed but to ensure your vehicle’s health and a decent resale value, it's better to keep as close to the schedule as you can.

What's under my hood? Discover popular types of batteries

To make sure all the effort you're putting into having a lasting vehicle battery pays out, you have to know what kind of battery your vehicle has and use the correct maintenance techniques. Batteries can be like that, you know; what works for one type might not have the same effect on another.

  • Lead acid batteries

    This is the popular, more traditional, and most cost-effective battery that most cars you see on the road have. It works with lead and a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. Because of this battery’s materials, it’s prone to evaporating over time, leading to a decrease in its power over time. The necessary maintenance this battery needs is topping up with distilled water every few weeks.

  • Lithium-ion batteries

    This battery is most popular with electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. They have a high-power to low-weight ratio, low energy consumption, and are recyclable—perfect for an eco-friendly electric fleet. Its drawbacks are that they are expensive, prone to overheating, and hard to find on the market if you ever need to replace them.

  • Sodium-ion batteries

    These batteries were created as the solution to the problems presented by lithium-ion batteries. Sodium is abundant, easier to extract, sustainable to use, and more affordable than lithium-ion. Since they are a new solution, more research is needed before it'll be widely available and become the industry standard.

Discover popular types of batteries

Battery issues: Factors that affect battery longevity

Vehicle batteries don’t cause many issues for their drivers, and it's for this reason that most drivers don’t take a second look at their batteries when performing regular inspections. Often enough they don’t see issues with the batteries until it's too late and they find themselves stuck on the side of the road calling for help.

To prevent calling a tow truck to move your vehicle or flanking down other drivers for a jumpstart, here are a few battery maintenance tips to keep your battery working for longer.

  1. Avoid short trips

    Rather than making short trips throughout the day, rather round it up into 1 trip to release strain on your battery. Your battery uses power to start your vehicle for every trip, with multiple short trips, your battery uses more and more power without it being replenished from your alternator. A longer drive allows the alternator to charge your battery as you go.

  2. Keep your vehicle moving

    The longer you leave your vehicle in your garage without driving it, the faster your vehicle’s battery will slowly die out because it's not getting its regular dose of charge from the alternator. With working-from-home opportunities increasing, it's understandable that some motorists can go days without touching the road. While this is great for your wallet, it's not so great for your vehicle. A quick fix for this can be to take your car out for a spin every few days to make sure your battery gets its charge.

  3. Avoid extreme temperatures

    When it comes to temperature, your battery prefers neutral temperatures. This one might be hard for South African drivers who live in warmer climates, but your battery works better when it's neutral or cool. Try parking your vehicle in shaded areas or a garage to limit exposure to extreme temperatures.

  4. Clean your battery

    Don’t be afraid to pop the hood and get to cleaning. Corrosion (a white or bluish-green powder) and dirt often build up around screws or bolts resulting in poor connectivity, just brush away the dust, sweep off the gathered dirt and wipe any grime accumulated on your battery. If there is too much corrosion, call your vehicle mechanic to help get rid of it safely.

  5. Service your vehicle

    Servicing your car does a lot of good in maintaining its health. Leave it up to the professionals to ensure your battery is running as it's supposed to and that it stays secure in your vehicle and doesn’t rattle around.

    Even while giving your battery all the TLC it needs to continue working, there comes a time when you have to replace the unit and unit and start afresh.

Do I maintain or replace my vehicle battery?

Unfortunately for many motorists, batteries are not a once-off purchase type of item. A vehicle battery’s estimated life expectancy is around three to five years. Over time, they get worn out and eventually need to be replaced. 

Here are signs you should look out for of a failing battery:

  1. Slow cranking: If your battery takes a minute or two to power your car, it could be a sign that your battery is starting to fail and is due for a replacement.
  2. Battery warning light: If the battery warning light on your dashboard is lit up, it means your vehicle has detected an issue with your battery or the charging system and needs you to take a look.
  3. Battery corrosion: Excessive corrosion or damage can be a big sign of an unhealthy battery. Most of the time, you can just wipe away the corrosion, but if it’s extensive, then it might be too late for your battery.

If you see these signs along with a cracked battery case, a fluid leak, or a bulged battery case, it’s unfortunately too late to save the battery and it should be replaced.

Even though the invisible clock is ticking away to when you will eventually replace your battery, there are still some helpful methods you can use to extend your battery’s life for a few more rides.

Vehicle battery maintenance checklist

Often, the battery health gets swept aside as many drivers assume all the battery needs is a jump start if it ever has issues, but that’s far from the truth. Fortunately for many drivers, maintaining your battery is relatively easy.

☑ Inspect your battery: Before getting your hands dirty, take the time to look around your battery and check for any signs of damage like cracks, bulges in the case, or any leaking fluids. These are sure signs of battery failure and suggest your car needs a new battery.

☑ Test your battery’s voltage: To confirm if your vehicle battery is indeed losing power, you can use a battery tester to measure the battery’s voltage. A fully charged battery should have a voltage of around 12 V. If the voltage is too low, then it might need to be recharged or replaced.

☑ Keep your battery terminals squeaky clean: Corroded terminals slow down the electricity flow from the battery to the car’s electrical system. To correct this, simply use a wire brush or a material to wipe to remove any gathered corrosion around your battery. If the corrosion is tough to clean, disconnect the battery cables and use a mixture of baking soda and water to lightly remove it around the terminals.

☑ Regularly charge your battery: Have you recently noticed that your battery isn't holding much charge after leaving your vehicle parked for days at a time? Vehicles that aren't often used don’t have enough time to recharge, which results in low power output and shorter battery life. Use a battery charger or maintainer as a solution to keep your battery charged even when it’s not in use.

☑ Check the age: Car batteries usually last between three to five years, if you’re experiencing frequent issues with your battery, check if the age of the battery is the cause. Even if your battery still works the same but is approaching five years, consider replacing it before issues start to occur.

Ensure your battery isn’t stored loosely: Your battery should not move around or vibrate while you're driving. This can loosen the battery and cause internal damage and short circuits.

This battery maintenance advice works for most battery types but what about batteries in electric vehicles?

Maintaining my electric vehicles’ battery

When it comes to electric vehicle (EV) batteries, regular charging is the way to go. Unlike regular vehicles that rely on petrol to drive from one location to the next, electric vehicles rely on their batteries and how much charge they have to make the trip. 

To ensure your vehicle’s battery lasts, these techniques are used.

  • Regular state-of-charge checks
  • Temperature monitoring
  • Battery voltage and cell health monitoring

These ensure drivers get the most out of their battery by swiftly identifying any issues with the battery before they become costly.

Safeguard your vehicle battery and extend its lifespan with Cartrack solutions

Don’t get stranded in the wrong side of town because of your battery. 

Cartrack Tanzania, the trusted industry leader in vehicle safety and fleet management does more than just track the location of your vehicle in real-time, it can also track your vehicle health, monitor your battery, provide features to empower you to get ahead of your vehicle maintenance and get you out of battery-related situations.

Key Cartrack Tanzania features that can lend a helping hand with your battery

Cartrack Tanzania takes your vehicle battery health into consideration

In addition to our features, our tracking units shine for their reliability and integrity. Rest assured, knowing that as hard as our tracking unit works 24/7, gathering vehicle data and offering you valuable insights on your vehicle’s daily trips and usage, it won’t damage or negatively affect your vehicle’s battery in any way. This means that you can enjoy these tracking solutions:

Whether you’re using Cartrack for security, efficiency, or to keep track of your vehicle, rest assured that your battery will still be able to give its best.

So, are you ready to say goodbye to your vehicle safety and battery woes? Contact Cartrack Tanzania today for trusted vehicle safety solutions.

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