Posted under Car Battery

They’re considered laws of nature: when you have tickets for the ballgame, it will rain. And the greater your hurry, the more likely you are to get behind the wheel to find the battery dead. Jiffy Lube® can’t change the weather, but we can help predict and preserve your car battery life.
To better understand how to maintain your battery, let’s look at what it does and how it works.

What Does a Battery Do and How Does It Work?

Your battery does a lot! A 12-volt vehicle battery is often called an SLI battery because it’s responsible for starting, lighting, and ignition. Without the electricity stored in your battery, your vehicle simply won’t start. The battery also provides short-term power when the engine is off, enabling you to turn on the lights, raise and lower the windows, open the door locks, operate the heater’s blower, and play the radio.
How does it work? It’s at the heart of your vehicle’s starting and charging system, consisting of the battery, starter, and alternator.

  1. The battery contains electrical energy. 
  2. The starter draws upon that energy and converts it to mechanical energy to crank the engine. 
  3. The alternator produces an electric current that replaces the energy the starter drew from the battery.
  4. The cycle repeats, over and over, to keep the engine going.

The battery also acts as a surge protector under the vehicle’s hood, stabilizing the voltage to help safeguard the starting and charging systems and keep your vehicle running smoothly and safely.

Average Car Battery Life

How long does a car battery last? Generally, your battery can last three to five years. That’s good news because, thanks to technological advancements, the car battery lifespan is longer than before. While there’s nothing anyone can do to make a battery last forever, there are things you can do to help extend its life, like periodically checking your battery and maintaining a routine maintenance schedule (more on this later).

Aspects That Affect Car Battery Life

How have you been driving? If you make a lot of short trips or frequently find yourself in stop-and-go traffic, the alternator may not have a chance to fully charge the battery. Where have you been driving? If you’ve been traveling on unpaved, dusty roads or near highway construction, you may find that dirt and debris have made their way under the hood and are interfering with your battery’s terminal connections.

Additionally, a loose battery is one of the greatest root causes of early battery failure. That’s why it’s important to ensure your battery hold down — the device that stabilizes your battery — is properly installed. It’ll keep your battery from moving as you drive up and down hills, around corners, and on bumpy roads.

Winter weather can be tough on your battery. It gets dark earlier, so you’re using your headlights and heater more, which can drain your battery. Just like dirt, ice-melting road salt can go under your hood and potentially damage battery terminals. 

Hot weather can also reduce battery life just as easily as cold weather. When the sun is blazing, heat can cause battery fluid to evaporate, which can damage your battery’s internal structure. 

What Can You Do?

Can you have an impact on how long a car battery lasts? Yes! Here’s what you can do to help extend its life.

A Little DIY 
There are things you can do on your own. Before taking on these tasks, ensure your engine is turned off and disconnect the battery cables. Always undo the negative cable first and then the positive cable (Important: refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for instructions). Please wear goggles and kitchen or rubber gloves.

  • Your battery is constructed of a plastic box or housing. Inspect the housing for cracks, wet spots, or bulges. Oil residue and dirt can build up on the housing, making it hard to see any damage, so wipe it with a cloth or paper towel. If you spot any damage, bring your vehicle to a professional for an inspection.
  • Clean and dry the battery terminals. Corrosion can interfere with battery performance, so remove it with a homemade mixture: one tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in one cup of distilled water. Using a toothbrush, gently scrub away the corrosion. Wipe the clean terminals with a damp cloth and then, using another rag, dry them completely.
  • Now make sure the battery is secure. Excess vibration can shorten its life. Grasp the battery and try to move it side-to-side. The battery shouldn’t budge. 

Remember to be careful when you reattach the cables. If you aren’t comfortable working on your battery yourself  — it’s OK; many drivers aren’t — let the pros look at it.

Stick to the Schedule 
Consistent, timely maintenance is a major contributor to battery longevity. It’s generally recommended that batteries be checked twice a year — i.e., every six months or 6,000 miles. You'll find your vehicle's maintenance schedule in the owner's manual.

Look Out for Warning Signs
Your battery will let you know if a between-inspection check is necessary. Are the lights a little dimmer? When you turn the key or press the ignition button, do you hear a clicking sound? Did you experience a slow crank during start-up? Is the “charging” light on? If you encounter one of these signs, take your vehicle to a professional for a battery inspection.

Rely on Jiffy Lube for Battery Maintenance

Since battery testing is included with every Jiffy Lube Signature Service® Oil Change, you can be confident that Jiffy Lube technicians will help keep your vehicle on the road. Battery maintenance can also be done as a standalone service, so if you notice any troubling signs with your battery between oil changes, don’t hesitate to bring your vehicle in.
A trained Jiffy Lube technician will:

  • Visually inspect your battery, including the hold-down and connections
  • Perform a thorough terminal cleaning (as needed with your approval)
  • Replace cables (as needed and with your approval)
  • Electrically test the battery, including OCV (Open Circuit Voltage) and CCA (Cold Cranking Amps)
  • Inspect and adjust your battery fluid level (if possible)

Remember, you’re in capable hands with Jiffy Lube. We’re dedicated to helping keep you and your vehicle on the road.  

NOTE: Not all services are offered at all Jiffy Lube service centers. Please call ahead or check to ensure the service is available at the Jiffy Lube location near you.