Electrical components are an important part of car function. Your battery, in particular, plays a vital role in your vehicle’s electrical system since it supplies power to the engine. Besides that basic fact, just how much do you know about your car’s battery? Moreover, how many of the facts that you think you know are actually myths? Trusted Auto Pros is here to help you separate the two. 

#1 The alternator and battery have the same job. (Myth)

When a car doesn’t start, it’s usually caused by one of three things: the starter, the alternator, or the battery. Vehicle batteries and alternators are both parts of the charging system. The battery sends an electrical charge through the starting system, causing the gears to turn. As you drive, the alternator sends energy back to the battery as a way to keep it charged.

Although they don’t do the exact same thing, the alternator and battery work together to keep your vehicle moving along smoothly.

#2 Your car battery should be checked once a year. (Myth)

This is another myth. Although certain things like your car’s air cabin filter should be checked annually, you should have your battery looked at every six months. 

If you’re a ‘DIY’ kind of person, you can follow these steps and check your vehicle’s battery yourself:

  1. Locate the battery. In most cars, the battery can be found underneath the hood. Some vehicles have batteries that are located in the trunk or back seat. Look at your manual if you aren’t sure where to find it. 
  2. Inspect the battery for corrosion. Greenish-yellow build-up that is crusty and covering the battery cables and terminals should be pinpointed and cleaned off using a brush and cleaner. 
  3. Tighten any loose cables.
  4. Check the battery with both a voltmeter and a battery tester. The voltmeter will let you know how much electricity your vehicle’s battery is putting out. The tester is created to check vehicle batteries for reserve capacity. 

If you don’t have access to the devices listed in step four, you can take your vehicle to a reputable service department

#3 A car battery should last around five years. (Fact)

How long your car battery should last will depend on a couple of things: where you live and how well you take care of it. Some manufacturers recommend changing out vehicle batteries every four years. Others say that it is okay to wait six years.

Extremely hot environments will wear the battery faster.

If you live in a cold environment, you’ll have a little more time. Following the ‘check steps’ listed above and changing your battery out every five years will help prevent a battery-induced breakdown and help you avoid more costly repairs. 

Other signs it might be time to switch out your car’s battery:

  • Trouble starting your vehicle
  • A swollen/cracked case
  • A low battery light that is illuminated
  • Dim lights
  • A smell that is similar to ‘rotten eggs’

#4 Vehicle Batteries in storage will self-discharge. (Fact)

If you are going to store a battery, a cool and dry location is ideal. Also, it would help if you considered investing in a battery maintainer.

These devices are meant to monitor a vehicle’s battery and keep it at full potential while it is being stored. This is important since dropping below 12.4 volts results in damage to a battery. At the very least, you should disconnect the battery from the vehicle to prevent discharging during the storage time. 

#5 There is no upkeep for “maintenance free” vehicle batteries. (Myth)

Although the name might suggest that they are self-sufficient, certain care is still required for so-called “maintenance free batteries.”

You will still need to clean the terminals of corrosion and do a semi-annual check as discussed earlier.