Is your car battery getting on in years? Have it tested by a CAA Battery Service professional (photo: Joebelanger/iStock)

Five Ways to Conserve Your Car Battery

By Craig Moy

With automobiles, as in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That bit of extra work to keep your vehicle’s various parts in good condition can help avoid (or, at least, delay) more costly repairs down the road. One critical component that’s relatively easy to maintain? Your vehicle’s battery. It gets your car going by sending power to the starter—to turn over the engine—and receives generated electricity from the alternator to maintain power.

A car battery typically lasts three to five years. You can help it reach the top end of that lifespan with these simple tips.

KEEP THINGS TIGHT
Your battery sits in a bracket that holds it in place under the hood. Wear and tear can loosen the bracket and expose the battery to vibrations that can cause damage and lead to shorts. Check the bracket periodically (with the engine off) and tighten it if necessary. Or contact CAA Battery Service and a technician will be able to take care of this and other battery-related concerns for you.

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MINIMIZE ENGINE-OFF POWER CONSUMPTION
In addition to helping start your car, the battery can be a power source when the engine isn’t running. That doesn’t mean it should be, however. Using electronics—like listening to the radio or charging your phone—with your car engine off means that power is being drained from the battery without being replenished by the alternator. Over time, this will wear down the battery and diminish its ability to start your engine.

GIVE IT TIME
The initial jolt of electricity needed to turn over your engine saps the battery of a good deal of its power. So if you can, consider waiting a minute or two to allow the alternator to recharge the battery before you place additional demands on it, such as running the A/C or heat, or turning on the stereo. Getting in the habit of turning off those systems at the end of each drive will help ensure they’re not immediate power sucks the next time you start your engine.

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AVOID TOO MANY SHORT TRIPS
When it comes to your battery, it’s the journey that matters most. The alternator needs sufficient time to charge the battery back to “full”; that won’t happen if you’re only driving a short distance. And if you only take short trips, the battery’s voltage will progressively decrease. Driving for at least 20 or 30 minutes every so often will help the battery regain its full charge.

GET A BATTERY TENDER
Even when cars are turned off, they use a small amount of battery power. If you go for long periods without driving—for example, if you have a vehicle that’s put into storage during the winter—attaching a battery tender will help keep the battery topped up. This small device is inexpensive and easy-to-use, and can be purchased from any AMA centre or CAA Battery Service technician.

WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED
If your battery is getting on in years, book a free test with CAA Battery Service*. If you need a new one, you can buy a CAA Premium Battery for a member-exclusive price and it’ll be installed for free.

*For select vehicles and locations