Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — Before drivers worry about a polished shine on their car, they’d better be concerned with what’s going on under the hood, or nobody will get to see their prized possession on the road.
The part of the car they should focus on first, because without it the car can’t go, is the battery. A bad battery can’t power the spark plug to ignite the gas, and that means your automobile is going to be stuck in the driveway.
Keith Hyde of Fairfield Tire & Service Inc. said modern batteries need to be changed more frequently than the batteries of yesteryear. Why?
“Newer cars have so much more computerized stuff, which is more draw on the batteries,” Hyde said. “Cars today have so many bells and whistles, with 18 little computers all pulling voltage constantly.”
Hyde said a modern battery lasts three to five years.
Isn’t there a way to make them last longer with a tune-up or repair? Hyde said batteries aren’t made to be tinkered with anymore.
“Batteries are all sealed units, so you can’t do anything with them,” Hyde said. “For a lot of them, you can’t even check water in them now.”
Hyde said a person could extend the life of their battery by pouring distilled water in it, but now, there isn’t much that can be done except to replace it.
“You can make sure the top of the terminals are clean so you’ve got good connections,” Hyde said.
Hyde said exposure to extreme temperatures shortens a battery’s life. And when a motorist tries to start a very cold battery, a cheap battery with low cranking amps might not be able to generate the power necessary to turn the motor over. Hyde said the top shelf batteries have greater cranking amps and are more likely to start in frigid conditions.
To see if their battery has any juice left, the public can buy battery testers to tell them the amps. Hyde said he has a more sophisticated battery tester that runs a diagnostic test on the battery — taking up to a couple of hours — but which gives him a more detailed account of the battery’s health.
Before heading out on a road trip this winter, make sure your battery is clean and in good health. If it’s not, consider a replacement so you can enjoy your trip with peace of mind.