How To Determine How Much Life Your Car Battery Has Left?

Whether you have an old refillable-style battery or a maintenance-free version, one truth remains: Proper care is needed to get the most out of it. Many factors affect its lifespan for better or worse. Moreover, all batteries eventually wear down. So how can you keep track of its health and charge levels? This short guide reveals what to look for when monitoring your Ford LTD Crown Victoria battery or other types of power cells.

Routinely Test the Battery

Testing your battery at home is easier than you may think. You can do this with a simple voltmeter, which you can find at your favorite auto parts retailer for around $50 or less. Also known as a multimeter, this handy device is just a little larger than a scientific calculator and measures a battery’s voltage levels through its positive and negative leads. 

The testing process remains the same whether you’re measuring the voltage of a 2016 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport battery or an older style of power cell. It’s an entry-level skill that doesn’t take much to master.

You can successfully check voltage levels with some basic steps: 

  • Set up your meter. It should be adjusted to 20 DC volts or just use the “DC” setting if your meter doesn’t include incremental settings. 
  • Place each probe on the appropriate terminal: negative with negative and positive with positive. 
  • Look at the readout screen. If your battery is fully charged, it should register between 12.5 and 12.6 volts when the ambient temperature is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Keep in mind that a partially-charged battery will display different voltage levels. At 75%, it should register about 12.45 volts. Anything less than that and your battery may be severely low. 

Check If Battery Indicator Light Is On

That dreaded battery light on your dashboard indicates possible problems. What makes it even worse is its vagueness in identifying root causes. Whatever that cause is, a lit battery light means that your vehicle cannot draw enough voltage from your power cell.

So, what can make that pesky light come on? Possible reasons include a low battery, a bad alternator, a malfunctioning voltage regulator or wiring in your electrical system that’s gone faulty. 

Besides component or electrical problems, a red battery light could point to other issues. Corroded or loose cables interfere with power delivery and recharging. Alternatively, your power cell could have damaged cells or plates. 

Caring for Your Battery

Unless your 2005 Chrysler Crossfire battery or other power cell is reaching the end of its useful lifespan, there’s a lot you can do to keep it in good shape. Try to limit the amount of stop-and-go driving or short trips, as these don’t allow your alternator to recharge the battery. Check under your hood regularly: Look for telltale problems such as a swelling battery case or rotten-egg odors. Clean the terminals frequently and apply anti-corrosive grease. Finally, be mindful of extreme weather conditions. Park in shade during hot weather and invest in a battery-warming blanket if you live in frigid regions. Don’t forget to check with your local auto parts retailer for free battery testing options. 

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