Routine Car Battery Maintenance

Most car batteries will last three to five years. By keeping up a good maintenance routine, you can ensure your battery lasts as long as possible.

routine car battery maintenance - entretien régulier de la batterie de voiture

Work It Out

One of the best ways to keep your car battery in good shape is to use it regularly (at least every three to four days). Don’t make your excursions too short, though, because this won’t give the battery enough time to recharge.

Avoid not using your car for long periods of time (over two weeks) to prevent the battery from dying. If you know that you won’t be able to use your vehicle for a while, consider getting an absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery or a battery maintainer.

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Strap It In

If your battery isn’t secured, it can vibrate, leading to internal damage and short-circuiting. A properly fastened battery clamp is the best way to avoid this. If you believe the clamp is too loose, tighten the clamp nuts until you start to feel resistance, and then continue for one more half turn.

Test It Out

Testing your battery will give you confidence that it’s in working order. We recommend running a test twice per year. You can do this by connecting the battery to a multimeter when the car is off. Connect the red lead to the battery’s positive terminal and the black lead to the negative terminal.

Your battery should read at least 12.4 volts. Anything less means the battery needs to be recharged or replaced. Your local garage can do a more thorough test of your battery if you’re concerned after your own assessment.


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Clean It Up

To help your car battery last longer, also check for corrosion. Too much corrosion and grime can prevent your battery from charging and working properly, so you need to keep it clean. Start with a visual inspection to identify any leaks or cracks. If your battery looks to be in poor shape, you may need to replace it.

If you’re going to move forward with cleaning your existing battery, disconnect the terminals while wearing safety glasses and gloves. Use a ratchet, socket, or wrench to disconnect the positive side first. Move the cable away from the battery, then disconnect the negative terminal.

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Use a mixture of baking soda and water to remove corrosion and dirt that’s built up around the terminals with a toothbrush and/or wire brush. If your battery has caps, clean the surface beneath them with a scraper first to make sure the seal is tight. Use a cloth to rub the top of the battery with the baking soda/water mixture. You can also purchase a battery cleaner product for this. Read and follow all the directions on the packaging.

After removing the terminal clamps, clean the battery’s terminal posts using a terminal brush. With a clean cloth, wipe the battery dry. Finish up by coating all the exposed metals on the battery with dielectric grease to prevent future oxidation.

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Permatex - Dielectric Tune-Up Grease

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Avoid Extreme Temperatures

The ideal temperature for a battery is 27°C. Extremely hot or cold weather can drastically affect your battery’s performance and longevity. So, to make your battery last longer, try to avoid driving in these conditions, and keep your car parked inside/under a covered area whenever possible. If you need to drive, minimize your time in stop-and-go traffic to prevent overheating in the summer and use a battery warmer  to prevent cold-start cranking in the winter.


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What about Electric Vehicle Batteries?

If you have an electric vehicle, you don’t need to perform as much battery maintenance. Most EV batteries last 15 to 20 years. Certain habits can help you extend the lifetime of the battery (e.g., keeping it charged between 20% and 80% or avoiding fast charging), but you don’t need to clean it.

If you have any questions about battery maintenance, stop by your local NAPA Auto Parts store to speak with an expert.

8 Replies to “Routine Car Battery Maintenance”

  1. Shammy Peterson says:

    You got my attention when you said that dirt and grime accelerate corrosion and could cause battery and charging system problems. This is a good tip for my husband since he is planning to shop for new auto batteries next week. He would definitely want his auto batteries to stay in a good shape so he could save money on replacements in the long run. Thanks for sharing this.

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  6. Alex says:

    Informative! really helpful. Additionally it is good to read about the symptoms of a bad car battery here. It helped mem identify any issues early to avoid any issues in the future. Good read!

  7. Henry Carter says:

    Thank you for the great tips for keeping vehicle battery in good condition. Great read. We offer car battery replacement when a battery reaches the end of its life. 

  8. Alan says:

    Highly recommend removing negative battery terminal first and push it aside out if the way and then positive terminal last unlike blog suggests. This way if your metal tool(socket/wrench) accidentally touches metal other than terminal bolt, you will NOT cause a short to ground possibly damaging vehicle wiring/electrical and battery.

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