- The Negatives Associated With Discharging Car Battery
- A Parasitic Drain – Identification
- The Effects Associated With Car Battery Discharge When In Storage.
- Battery Discharge And The Weather
- Causes And Prevention Of Battery Discharge – Honorable Mentions
It’s always frustrating to have a car that won’t start because a battery is dead. Unfortunately, a battery that loses its charge is a common ailment for drivers the world over.
There are many reasons as to why a car battery discharges. These factors include but are not limited to parasitic draws, severe weather conditions, and long storage periods. Any of these factors could be causing your car battery to drain and become a problem.
If you want to prevent your car battery from discharging, you can introduce some simple measures. In this article, we present some of the leading methods you can employ to prevent your car battery from discharging.
The Negatives Associated With Discharging Car Battery
First, we will take a look at what occurs when a car battery keeps on discharging. When a car battery drains too far, it can lead to irreversible damage. Should a car battery drain to around 10.5 volts, it is considered fully discharged.
At this level, a process occurs where lead sulfate crystallizes and causes excessive sulfation. This stops your car battery from returning to its full charge capacity.
Additionally, allowing your car battery to discharge continuously and enabling lead sulfate to crystalize will shorten its lifespan. The crystallized lead sulfate will build up and prevent the car battery from providing enough amperage to charge.
This will effectively force you to have to replace it. So let us now look at factors that cause a battery to discharge and how we can prevent it.
A Parasitic Drain – Identification
It can be hard to identify a parasitic drain as most often, you won’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Most times, the car component causing your car battery to go flat won’t be apparent. The problem can go unnoticed because the battery is draining while your vehicle is off.
The only way you would notice it is when you turn your car on, and the battery won’t start. If your battery is relatively new, a single occurrence of a parasitic drain is unlikely to cause lasting damage.
Reasons For A Parasitic Drain
A faulty glove box light or trunk light most commonly causes a parasitic drain that leads your battery to go flat.
However, you will still need to identify what exactly causes the parasitic drain and fix the problem of your battery continually dying.
Remember that when your car battery discharges and the voltage drops, lead sulfate crystallizes and causes permanent damage.
How to prevent this
Luckily, there are a few methods that we can use to find and fix a parasitic drain. Our first method is simple. Like with most things, we will have to begin with trial and error. Firstly you must make sure that your car is off and that the battery is disconnected.
Then with the aid of a test light, you can check for a drain. Connect the test light to your battery terminal. If the light switches on, you will know that you have a drain.
Another method you can use to find your parasitic drain’s exact cause is to use an ammeter; however, you must apply caution as the incorrect use of scale could blow a fuse in the meter.
With both of these methods, you can remove fuses, and when a light goes off on your test light or your ammeter drops to zero, you will know what exactly is causing your drain.
You can then sort this out by fixing the faulty light or any other technical problems you find. By doing this, you will prevent your car battery from further discharging.
The Effects Associated With Car Battery Discharge When In Storage.
You will first need to figure out how long you plan on keeping your car battery in storage. If you plan to keep your car battery in storage for a short period, you may have to simply disconnect the battery.
Newer batteries self-discharge slower than older batteries, but they are not exempt from this process.
Self-discharge usually occurs at a much slower rate of about five percent each month. Therefore long-term storage can exasperate this rate and cause a battery to discharge to dangerous levels.
How To Prevent This
There are two methods that you can use to prevent your battery from self-discharging when in storage. Option one is to charge the battery now and then. This method is the easiest and the cheapest. Option two is to make use of a float charger.
A float charger will automatically charge your battery when the battery drops to a certain voltage level. It is crucial to note that using a float charger is not a foolproof method as the charger can malfunction and cause damage to your battery.
Therefore, it is good to check on your battery when it is in storage now and then.
Battery Discharge And The Weather
Weather conditions are one of the many leading causes of making your car battery go flat. A car battery life expectancy is an estimated fifty-one months in cold climates and thirty-one months in hot climates. Severely hot weather causes the electrolytes in a battery to evaporate.
Low electrolyte levels negatively impact car battery performance. In contrast, cold weather causes your battery to conduct lower amperage, and your battery can drop to up to twenty percent of its overall capacity.
This adversely affects the performance of your car battery and leads to high levels of discharge.
How To Prevent This
Although the leading cause of battery discharge is associated with the weather, there isn’t much to prevent this. However, even though we cannot control the weather, there are still a few methods that we can employ to negate its effects on our car batteries.
Perhaps the simplest and most convenient way to prevent car batteries from going flat in hot and cold climates is to store our vehicles in a garage away from the climatic elements. If a garage isn’t available to you, find a shady or undercover area to store your car.
This method will help prevent excessive loss of battery fluid in hot weather and, in cold weather, keep your battery warmer so as not to lose more amperage and, therefore, more discharge.
Always ensure that your car battery is properly maintained because, in severe weather temperatures, your car battery will go flat more. You can conduct the maintenance yourself or take your car to your nearest car maintenance shop. In hot climates, keep topping up your car battery’s electrolytes; as said previously, this will ensure that your battery maintains its charge.
Always remember to keep the battery’s electrical connections clean. It would help if you also remembered to keep your battery correctly charged with a battery car charger or by driving the vehicle regularly. This process will keep the car battery charged in cold temperatures and prevent car battery discharge.
- Best 7 Car Batteries For Hot Weather – Important Factors To Consider
- 6 Best Car Batteries For Cold Weather
Causes And Prevention Of Battery Discharge – Honorable Mentions
A Faulty Alternator
If you are using your car often, maintaining the battery well and it’s still losing charge, it could be because of the alternator. A broken alternator will cause your battery not to retain or create a charge. You will have to replace the alternator in your car if you want to further prevent the battery from discharging.
You Left Your Headlights On
Should you find your car battery going flat often, it could be because you forgot to switch off your car’s headlights. Newer car models have a built-in feature that switches the headlights off after a certain amount of time to prevent a car’s battery from going flat.
If you have an older model car, you would have to manually check when you use your car’s headlights to ensure you have switched them off after driving.
Too Many Electronic Devices Connected
If you use many electronic devices in your car, this could be why the frequent discharging of the battery. Electronic devices such as phone chargers, GPS systems, and DVD players draw power from the car battery.
If these devices are connected at once, there is a massive strain on the car battery‘s charge. Plugging out these devices and only keeping what’s necessary plugged in will prevent your car battery from going flat.
To conclude, we can see that there are many reasons for our car battery to lose its charge, and there are many methods that we can employ to prevent these factors from causing our car batteries to discharge.
All the methods mentioned are essential to keep in mind if we want to extend and conserve our car battery’s lifetime.
James has been a car enthusiast since his childhood when he learned the differences between a ford and a chevy from his father. He loves to drive and restore old cars with a special drive for Italian marvels. Currently, he has a 1968 Alfa Romeo. He has studied aeronautics and civil aviation in his college and still gets smitten by Galant SS and Lancer GSR.
He is a New York-based product training director working with a giant automotive retailer. He loves to review and uncover the vehicles and their fascinating stories. He believes in keeping it legitimate with a keen passion for research on the latest technological upgrades in cars. While reading his articles or blogs, you can sense the extensive research and dedication backing the piece of text. He loves fried chicken, music, and spending quality time with his pet dog.