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A battery is the heart of any vehicle. It starts the car, powers the lights and creature comforts, and ensures motorists get to their destination. Car batteries can also communicate. A cranking sound indicates all is not well.

Motorists should never ignore the cranking sound. A faulty car battery is the biggest cause of roadside breakdowns. In fact, 24% of all call-outs to AA are battery related. Roadside breakdowns are one of the reasons the trusted battery specialists advise motorists to get their batteries checked.

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Many motorists don’t give their battery a second thought until it fails to power their vehicle. Although cars can struggle to start for several reasons, such as an empty petrol tank, or a malfunctioning alternator or starter, a faulty battery is the most common reason. And a failing battery often happens at the most inconvenient time.

Why do car batteries fail?

The average life span of quality car batteries is three to five years. However, it does depend on a motorist’s driving habits, the climate, and how well they maintain their battery. Car batteries can fail for the following reasons:

  • Forgetting to switch off the car lights or radio overnight.
  • Terminals corrode, making it impossible for the battery to transmit power to start the car.
  • Cold or hot weather can damage the battery.
  • A faulty charging system.
  • Battery reached the end of its life and needs replacement.
  • Frequent short trips don’t allow the battery to charge fully.
  • A car is stationary for long periods.

3 reasons why motorists should add “get battery checked” to their annual to-do list:

1. Regular wear, tear and dust

Car batteries generally last up to five years, which doesn’t mean motorists shouldn’t show them TLC, especially if the battery is older than three years. Dirt, debris and corrosion gather on the battery terminals and can lead to connectivity issues, making it difficult for the car to start.

2. Weather damage

Both warm and cold temperatures can affect how the battery performs. Cold weather can reduce battery life, while warmer temperatures can cause the electrolytes to evaporate, damaging the battery’s internal plates and affecting battery performance. Get your battery checked twice a year and keep your vehicle going all year long.

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3. Malfunctioning alternator and starter

The alternator and starter both have mechanical and electric functions to power the engine fan, headlights and the crankshaft turn to keep the car moving. But, when these components start failing, there’s even more stress on the battery, which can lead to premature failure.

How to prolong your car’s battery life

The most effective way to maintain a car battery in good condition is through regular battery checks. The trusted battery specialists recommend a battery check twice a year. Regular battery checks will forewarn motorists of problems in advance. In instances where a problem is spotted, the specialists can advise and replace the failing battery if need be.

In addition to regular battery checks, here are three tips for motorists to extend their car battery life:

1. Keep your car warm

Cold weather can be damaging and affect battery performance. Protect your car and the battery by parking in a garage. If you park outside, make sure your vehicle is out of the wind. Alternatively, use a car cover to protect your car at night.

2. Take it easy

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Don’t rush to turn on the radio or heater. Start your car and let the engine run for a few minutes. Let the alternator charge the battery before you switch on to listen to your morning playlist.

3. Keep the battery clean

Dirt and corrosion affect how the battery will perform. Pop the hood and clean up any dirt on the battery. Use a water and baking soda solution to remove corrosion.

Battery damage can happen during the cold and warm months. Get your battery tested before winter and summer starts. A battery check doesn’t mean a battery replacement. The specialists’ tests are thorough, as they also check the car’s starter and alternator, and they are FREE. If you go to one of South Africa’s trusted battery fitment centres, they will only replace a battery if necessary. And, if they replace your battery, the specialists will recycle the old battery.

**WIN!**

WomenStuff has teamed up with Battery Centre to give one lucky reader the chance to win a R2,500 Battery Centre voucher which is valid for 1 year! (Please note: T’s & C’s apply*). To enter, simply complete the form below:

One entry per person, please. Competition ends on Wednesday 28 July 2021 at 23:00. Please read our full competition terms and conditions here.

*Terms & Conditions
1. Voucher winners must take an old car battery in store to Battery Centre redeem their voucher and receive the new battery.
2. The voucher is valued at R2,500 and CANNOT be exchanged for cash.
3. Should the winner’s car battery be valued at less than R2,500, the remainder of the voucher value cannot be redeemed or exchanged for cash.

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References

1. MTA. Car Battery Care and Life Expectancy. https://www.mta.org.nz/motoring-tips/car-battery-care-and-life-expectancy/.  Accessed on 2 June 2021.
2. Lifewire. 6 Reasons Your Car Battery Keeps Dying. https://www.lifewire.com/why-car-battery-keeps-dying-4125506. Accessed on 2 June 2021.
3. Batteryfly. What actually causes car battery discharge? https://batteryfly.qa/what-actually-causes-car-battery-discharge/.  Accessed on 2 June 2021.
4. Battery Centre. Get your battery checked for free. https://www.batterycentre.co.za/free-battery-check/. Accessed on 2 June 2021.
5. The Journal. Fully charged: 7 tips to protect your car battery this winter. https://www.thejournal.ie/protect-car-battery-in-winter-3706214-Nov2017/. Accessed on 3 June 2021.

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