• A normal vehicle battery has an approximate lifespan of three to four years.
• Factors like a vehicle standing for a long time or leaving the lights on, can decrease the functional longevity of a battery.
• A new battery can cost anywhere from R700 to as much as R3 000, depending on the make and model.
• For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24
Just like the engine or suspension, a battery is an essential component in how a vehicle operates. Without it, components like your starter motor, alarm system, radio and headlights will not function at all because there is no other source of power to draw from.
Last year, the hard lockdown forced many people to park their vehicles for indefinite periods, resulting in the battery running flat. Leaving the lights on with the vehicle switched off can also decrease the functional longevity of a battery.
According to Battery Centre, keeping batteries clean and clear of corrosion, tightening terminal connections, and disconnecting the negative terminal if the vehicle is going to park for long periods are a few tips to ensure maximum battery life. A fully charged battery minimises starting problems and usually takes 30 minutes of driving to recharge it.
Have you experienced a situation where a car's battery was connected incorrectly or the wrong way around? Please email us, or share your thoughts in the comment section below.
'Listen to your battery'
Life tends to get fast-paced at times, and it is easy to overlook something as minor as a battery telling you it's reaching the end of its lifecycle until one morning when you turn the key in the ignition, and nothing happens.
Winter has already asserted its influence with cold and wet conditions across the country. Low temperatures slow down chemical reactions in batteries, resulting in an insufficient supply of electric current that can cause it to act upon those cold winter mornings.
According to Supa Quick, 99% of breakdowns are a direct result of battery failure. This is often due to a lack of proper battery maintenance. Using references from Willard and Battery Centre outlets, here are a few sure-fire signs to let you know your battery needs replacing:
- Sluggish engine starting
An engine typically turns over and achieves spark within two seconds of swinging the key in the ignition, but it if takes longer, or you have to try more than once to do so - most of the time, it's a weak battery at fault.
- Battery light on the dash
This light comes on briefly when you switch the vehicle on and then goes away again, which is perfectly normal, but if it comes on while you are driving, then it means that your alternator is not properly charging. In other words, it is not getting enough voltage from the car battery.
- Bloated battery casing
This is a dangerous scenario because this can lead to the battery exploding. According to Firestone, This is down to the exposure of excessive heat that causes the casing to swell. Batteries follow a solid rectangle shape, so it is relatively simple to notice any round-formed form.
- Fluid leak
A fluid leak can be linked to the issue above and also if a battery has sustained physical damage like a crack where the fluid, or acid, starts leaking out. This can also occur with older wet lead-acid batteries where fluid has to physically be topped up, running the risk of throwing in too much liquid.
- Headlights dim on idle
Another simple way to troubleshoot is to check to see how bright your vehicle's headlights shine at night while on idle. If it looks eerily dim, then it's inevitable that your battery is on its last legs.
Wheels24's Janine Van der Post says: "There are other more minor signs too, like having to hit your remote button twice or thrice to unlock or lock your vehicle, especially if your older car has an immobiliser fitted connected to an alarm system. Or, the indicators or hooter won't work.
"If you're driving an older vehicle, try and keep a logbook for your car with service dates, when you last bought a new battery etc. It's so easy to forget these things, and by keeping a log, it will help you to maintain a better hand on your car. it could also help you budget or save up for bigger items which need to be replaced."