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How to Increase the Lifespan of Your Car Battery

CAA Auto Advice February 06, 2023
CAA trained technician testing a car battery by a customers home.

The battery in your vehicle has at least one thing in common with the refrigerator in your kitchen – it is generally not given much thought until it stops working.

Contemporary car batteries have changed a bit over the years, with engineers developing new technologies for them to endure modern start/stop systems and remain functional in harsh weather. Still, as with other systems in your vehicle, it is never a bad idea to invest a bit of time in preventative maintenance.

Dress the part.

Remember to wear some protective eyewear before handling or working near your battery. Read the owner’s manual for your vehicle to determine its location – some manufacturers locate them in the trunk or some other odd place thanks to space restrictions under the hood.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your car’s battery.

Dry + clean = happy.

Most electrical systems in modern vehicles tend to get grumpy when doused in water. If your car is frequently covered in snow, or gets splashed a lot by passing traffic, it’s not a bad idea to lift the hood and carefully towel off any excess water that’s managed to make its way under the hood and onto the battery.

Terminal velocity.

Those two posts on top of the battery carry its current to your car's electrical systems. The positive (+) and negative (-) terminals are generally well–marked. Make sure they are free of corrosion, a substance which often appears as a bluish–green fuzz and can severely affect electrical conductivity.

If small amounts of corrosion are present, it can often be cleaned off with a strong cloth. Removing ample quantities of corrosion may require the use of a stiff wire brush. Safety reminder: one should be extremely careful not to inhale this toxin.

Top view of a dusty, old car battery.

Bad vibrations.

Check to ensure the battery is well secured under the hood. In addition to being a safety hazard, a loosely held car battery can be damaged by engine vibrations and general harshness produced by driving. This internal destruction can foul components inside the battery casing and reduce its lifespan.

All charged up.

Most of us have been there: we’ve exited the car in a rush and neglected to shut off its headlights or cabin lights before heading into the house. This can lead to a very dead battery and a whole fistful of ‘nope’ the next time one tries to twist the ignition key. Call CAA at 1-800-222-4357 to get you back on the road quickly.

Fully drained batteries should be properly recharged at a service facility. Like your last trip to the buffet, it is best to fill up the battery with electricity slowly rather than trying to bring it back to maximum capacity in a hurry. Also like at the buffet, overfilling (or overcharging, in this case) can also cause significant problems.

A bunch of car batteries inside the flatbed of a pickup truck.

Convenient battery change.

Surprisingly, a car battery is a perishable item. Your CAA Membership gives you access to our convenient CAA Battery Service1 – a trained technician will come to you to test your car battery, and check if there are any drains or issues with the electrical system. If necessary, they can replace and recycle your old car battery on the spot! Delivery and installation are included at no additional cost.

Get more with CAA.

If you have any questions about batteries or how to keep your car in tip top shape, call 1-866-464-6448 or visit CAA Auto Advice™. CAA’s team of automotive experts will provide Members with a free consultation and advice they can trust.


By: Matthew Guy