NAPSI -- Sooner or later, all car batteries have to be replaced. The good news is that by taking a few simple maintenance steps, you can avoid the cost and hassle of getting stranded with a dead battery.
Extreme Heat and Cold
Excessive heat and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, thus damaging the internal structure of the battery.
A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, can allow too high of a charging rate, leading to slow death for a battery.
Colder temperatures can also be a problem, increasing the thickness of the engine oil, making the engine harder to turn over and the battery work harder. This makes for harder starting.
To help you get the most life out of a battery, the Car Care Council suggests the following:
Have your battery tested -- and replaced if necessary -- in the fall and spring. This reduces the chance a dead battery will leave you stranded on the side of the road.
Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as undercharging.
If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it regularly, especially in hot weather. Add distilled water when necessary.
Always replace a battery with one that's rated at least as high as the one originally specified.
Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power. Further, as corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, it becomes an insulator, inhibiting current flow.
The Car Care Council is a national nonprofit organization providing information for the "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education campaign that promotes the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair.
For information, visit www.carcare.org.