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Tips for preventing a dead battery

There is nothing wrong with being overprotective of your ride, especially with the onset of winter almost guaranteeing rough weather for months to come. You may think that you can never be too ambitious with how you protect your vehicle, but the truth is, you may end up babying your car so much that it actually damages the quality of your ride

Your car was made to be driven, and, like a new pair of shoes, you need to break it in to make sure that it can comfortably handle the elements in times of need. If your ride spends more time sitting in the garage than on the concrete, it won't be ready to perform when you need it to.

Some parts of the car will simply deteriorate or lose their functionality without repeated and heavy use. Perhaps the piece of equipment that is most sensitive to a lack of exercise is the battery that gets your car started.

A battery only charges when the car is running. In theory, as long as the car is on and the engine is turning, the battery won't ever die. Of course there are restrictions, as the acids that make the battery work by holding a charge will eventually evaporate over time. However, the only time your battery is really exhausted is when you are starting the car up. Once the engine is going, and assuming your alternator is in working order, you're not draining the battery whatsoever.

There are a few things that will suck up the life of your battery extremely quickly that you should avoid doing at all costs. Although a battery is relatively inexpensive to replace compared to the big money items you keep in your car, like the engine or transmission, these easy tips will make sure you aren't needlessly wasting energy.

Put a trickle charger under the hood for the winter

A trickle charger is a smart investment because it essentially makes sure the battery keeps its charge without overwhelming it. These devices remain strapped to a battery for an extended period of time using alligator clips like a traditional charging device. What makes this kind of charger more effective than jumper cables is that it slowly adds charge to the battery instead of shocking the device. This kind of charger also prevents the sort of depletion that batteries are prone to when they aren't in use.

Cars that are stored for long periods of time are the perfect candidates for this tool. There will be no problem when you go to start your car up this spring if you hook up a trickle charger to the battery at the start of winter. Not only will there be no wait to get the car going, the battery will last longer because there aren't long spurts between activity.

Be smart about storing your car any time of year

You may think you're doing your car a favor by putting a cover on it when it isn't in use. But a common phenomenon among drivers is the discovery of a once perfectly functional car battery being completely depleted after the car is wrapped up for a long period of time. There may not be bird feces or scrapes on the ride, but, if your car won't start, it certainly wasn't worth the cosmetic protection.

Even in winter when the temperatures are freezing, dark covers will absorb solar energy that makes the air underneath the wrapping scorching hot. When left under wraps for days, the temperatures under the hood may get so hot that the battery chargers may actually melt, causing the connection between the battery and the rest of the car to short. As well, the heat will cause the juices inside the car to evaporate at a much higher rate, reducing the batteries ability to charge altogether. The best way to avoid this is to keep the car in a garage to shield it from damage, not wrapped like a sausage in your driveway.

Before you ever hit the road, keep a set of jumper cables in your car to make sure that you are never stranded with a ride that won't start. There are a host of other ways that your battery can die that can happen at any time, but in most situations, a set of jumper cables will be your lifeline.

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