Battle Short Battery Life in Your Vehicle with Proper Car Care

We’ve all been there: You rush out the door in the morning, already late for work, turn the key in your car’s ignition – and nothing happens. Your car battery is dead. We all know that those batteries need to be replaced from time to time, but you may be surprised to learn that just 30 percent of car batteries last for 48 months. However, that’s just an average. How long your battery lasts depends on many factors, such as temperature, amount of electronics in your vehicle, the distance you usually drive, and more. At Kennedy Transmission, we can help keep your battery at peak performance and get you back on the road fast.

Battery Basics

It’s important for car owners in Minnesota and North Dakota to understand how their vehicle’s battery works to avoid being stranded because of a dead or defective car battery. You should keep these basics in mind when the time comes to service your vehicle:

  • Heat does more damage to a battery than cold weather. Extremely hot temperatures cause the battery’s fluid to evaporate, which can damage its internal structure.
  • The best way to prolong battery life is to keep the battery fully charged. This is difficult if you only take short trips to the store and back, as the alternator doesn’t have time to fully recharge the battery using the engine.
  • A computer-controlled car battery charger should be used once a month in the summer and every three months in the winter to keep your vehicle’s battery at peak performance.
  • Statistics show that most batteries start to lose battery life the moment they are first used, and 70% of them are dead within four years.
  • Driving with a dying battery puts extra strain on your engine’s alternator, causing it to wear out early and require costly repairs.


Fight Back Against Battery Drain

Though it’s true that – like most consumer products these days – your car battery wasn’t built to last forever, there are some things you can do to keep it working effectively for as long as possible. Please be aware that batteries contain sulfuric acid that can severely burn your skin or blind you. It’s always a good idea to inspect your battery for a bulging, cracked or leaking case before jump-starting it or removing it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire.

The longer a battery goes with a low charge, the sooner it will die. Modern cars are now equipped with all manner of electronic accessories, and running them all at once takes a toll on your battery. Only use things like GPS, DVD players and entertainment computers when necessary to help keep the battery as close to a full charge as possible.

Short trips and stop-and-go traffic drain battery life faster than normal driving. The main job of your vehicle’s alternator is to recharge the battery while the engine is running. However, if you only take short trips to the store, or are sitting at traffic lights more often than not, the engine isn’t running fast enough and for long enough to fully recharge the battery. Periodic highway driving should give the alternator long enough to return your car battery to a full charge.

Letting your car sit for too long will cause it to discharge. This mostly affects people in the colder months, when it can be difficult to start a vehicle that’s been sitting for a day or two. But even in hot weather, a battery will begin to discharge after just 24 hours. Periodic use of a battery charger can help your battery maintain a full charge.  

Running your battery low before recharging is not recommended. This is called “deep-cycling” and it often occurs when using your headlights, stereo and other accessories when the car has not been started. Because the engine is not on, the alternator cannot provide current to the battery, so it’s the only thing providing power to those accessories. Car batteries are not designed to be deep-cycled because when the car is finally started, the alternator charges this depleted battery too fast and can permanently damage it.

You Can Trust Your Vehicle to the Experts

If you’re ever in doubt about the condition of your battery, it’s better to call a professional than to risk damage to yourself or your vehicle. If you live in Minnesota or North Dakota and haven’t replaced your car battery in the past four years, it’s time to make an appointment with Kennedy Transmission Brake and Auto Service to test your battery and see if it’s recommended to replace it. The friendly technicians at Kennedy are more than happy to help you with all your car battery needs.

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