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What is a battery?

When referring to a vehicle battery, “A battery is a self-contained, chemical power pack that can produce a limited amount of electrical energy wherever it’s needed”. 1. This article is for engine powered vehicles, not hybrid batteries.

 

Why do vehicles have batteries?

Power is necessary for vehicles to start up. In simple terms, power is drawn from the battery to the starter. The starter then turns the engine to get it going. Once the vehicle is started, power then comes from the alternator.

Car battery

Where is it located?

Most of the time the battery is located in the engine bay under the hood. Look for the two terminals. They will most likely have a red cover with a ‘+’ sign for the positive terminal and black cover on the other side with a ‘-‘ sign for the negative terminal. Sometimes the battery will be located under the back seat of the car or even in the trunk.

How long will a vehicle battery last?

Battery life by location USA

Extreme temperature differences will affect the life of your battery. As you can see from the image above, In Wyoming and Nebraska, our average battery life is from 47 months-51 months. So just over 4 years is when you can expect to be changing it out. There are, however, batteries that come with up to 6 years of warranty. Lot’s of short trips will wear your battery life down too because the alternator doesn’t get a chance to recharge it fully.

How do you take care of a vehicle battery?

You can clean off the terminals if they become dirty. This will create a better contact. To clean the terminals, remove the connectors (the round part over the terminals). Make a paste of baking soda and distilled water. Use a wire brush and scrub the paste on the terminals until clean and shiny. This will help remove acid debris.

Take your vehicle to your trusted mechanic and have them test it. The voltage should be from 12.5-12.6 volts.

Signs of a possible bad car battery

  • Vehicle not starting
  • Slow engine crank (if the engine sounds like a teenager on a school morning)
  • Battery light or check engine light stays on
  • A swollen or bloated battery case
  • Lots of corrosion on the battery or acid leaks
  • Rotten egg smell
  • Low battery fluid level

 

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Lauren has been working in the automotive industry both in the U.K and in the U.S. for over 10 years. A car geek, photographer, big game chaser and bagpipe player, powered by coffee. Send your questions to:

lauren@trustedautopros.com

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