Faulty car batteries can lead to false starts or contribute to other electrical problems in your vehicle. Modern cars featuring electrically governed power steering systems can also be affected, making proper battery maintenance even more crucial. Problems starting your car or seemingly unrelated problems with power steering can, therefore, be indicative of a battery that is not functioning optimally, but you will be glad to learn that this can be easily remedied with some simple, at-home maintenance, saving costly garage trips and services. You will need:
- A voltmeter
- A socket wrench
- Safety goggles
- De-ionised water
- 6 amp battery charger
Maintaining your battery - Step 1:
First remove your battery from its housing in the engine bay. Begin by removing the earth lead connected to your battery before touching anything else. This frequently overlooked precaution reduces the chance of a short circuit as you continue to disconnect and remove the battery. Loosen and remove the nuts around the battery terminals using your socket wrench, and remove the strap holding the battery itself in place. Note: Always handle your battery carefully, as the sulphuric acid contained within automotive batteries can cause burns to your skin.
Degrease the battery and check the voltage across the terminals with your voltmeter. The reading on your meter should be approximately 12 volts. Lower readings are a telltale sign of poor maintenance, but not to worry – that's what this guide is for! Having cleaned the battery casing, remove the cap on the top of the battery to expose the six chambers within. Standard battery caps are simply pried off, and then pressed back on to secure. Wearing goggles here is advisable to protect against acid being flicked into your eyes. Remember: safety first!
Each of the newly exposed chambers contains one battery cell, filled with a solution of sulphuric acid which evaporates over time. Top up this solution with the de-ionised water, covering the lead plates visible within the cells. Leave the covering cap off the battery and connect your 6 amp charger, leaving the battery to charge for several hours. Replace the cap, test again with the voltmeter, and a more healthy reading is your reward!
Now it is time to refit your battery. Reconnect the live lead to the battery first, followed by the earth. Tighten the nuts at the terminals and strap in the battery until secure. Congratulations, job done! By taking these simple steps just once a year, you will avoid unnecessary breakdowns and unwanted trips to the garage. Always remember, be good to your battery and it will be good to you.
For more information about battery or car radiator repair, contact an auto service near you.