This weekend I’m finally getting to take a much needed break and will drive up to Newcastle to pay a visit to my old university and the city where I spent 4 fantastic years. It’s been nearly 10 years since I was last there so I’m excited to see how much it’s changed but not so excited about the 5 hour drive ahead! :S
So I’ve got my music and snacks sorted for the journey, nearly finished packing, checked my car tyres and last but not least I’ve inspected my car battery to check that it is in good condition for the road. Most people probably don’t pay too much attention to their car battery as long as everything seems to be working fine but it’s really important to check car batteries before going on a long journey because you don’t want to find yourself stranded along the way!
For those of you who are not familiar with how to check your car battery, what you need to do is first check the battery for any corrosion or stains as this may mean that you have a leak and should probably replace your battery. You should also have a look at the battery case and the terminals to see if there are any cracks or damage to the terminals in which case you should also replace the battery. Corrosion on your car battery terminals can prevent your car from starting so if you see any corrosion stains, they can be cleaned by using a brush dipped in baking soda mixed with water. The battery cables and clamps need to be examined as well, to see whether they are frayed or corroded. If so, the cables and clamps need to be replaced.
To check the battery performance you will need a voltmeter to measure the voltage. First turn the engine off, attach the voltmeter to the battery terminals and the reading on the voltmeter should be around 12 volts. Next get someone to start the car whilst you measure the voltage of the battery. If the reading drops below 10 volts then the battery doesn’t really have sufficient current to start the car and will probably not last much longer.
The charging voltage of the battery should also be measured to test to see if the charging system is working correctly. To do this, run the car for around 20 minutes so that the battery is suffiently charged and then use the voltmeter to measure the voltage at the battery terminals. This should be around 14 volts. If it is less than 14 volts this may show that your charging system is not working properly and there may be a problem with the alternator which is what keeps the battery continually charged. Anything over 14 volts means you should get someone to check that the voltage regulator in your alternator is working as this is what shuts off the flow of juice to your battery if the voltage goes above a certain level and therefore keeps your battery from getting overcharged and damaged.
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