Best Practices for Storing Car Batteries When Not in Use

If you want to keep your car batteries in good condition, you can’t treat them carelessly! So, we put together a guide on the best practices for storing car batteries when not in use.

Understanding the basics of car batteries

When it comes to understanding the basics of car batteries, it's essential to have a grasp of their types and components. Car batteries typically fall into two categories: lead-acid and lithium-ion. Lead-acid batteries are the most common and affordable option, while lithium-ion batteries are becoming more prevalent due to their comparatively lighter weight and higher energy density. Regardless of the type, car batteries consist of several components, including lead plates, electrolyte solution, and terminals. These components work together to store and release electrical energy, powering the vehicle's starter, lights, and other electrical systems. However, since the weight of a car battery is considerable, just be careful when handling them. Proper handling techniques, such as using both hands and lifting with your legs, can help prevent injury and ensure a safe and smooth experience. 

The best practices for storing car batteries

1. Clean the battery and its terminals

Keeping your car battery and its terminals clean is a vital aspect of battery maintenance. With time, dirt, debris, and corrosion always accumulate on a battery and its terminals, impacting its performance. So, regular cleaning helps maintain proper electrical connections and extends the battery's lifespan. To clean the battery and terminals, start by wearing protective gloves and eyewear. Then, use a mixture of baking soda and water to create a cleaning solution. Dip a brush or toothbrush into the solution and gently scrub the battery and terminals to remove any dirt or corrosion. Be cautious and don’t let the solution enter the battery cells, either! After scrubbing, rinse the battery and terminals with clean water and dry them thoroughly. Finally, applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly or terminal protectant spray on the terminals can help prevent future corrosion. 

2. Disconnect the battery

Disconnecting the battery when it's not in use is a crucial step to preparing for storing car batteries. By disconnecting the battery, you prevent unnecessary power drain and reduce the risk of malfunctions. This is especially important if you plan to store your vehicle for an extended period. Thankfully, disconnecting the battery is a relatively simple process. Start by locating the negative (-) terminal, marked with a minus sign or the letters "NEG." Then, use a wrench or socket to loosen the terminal nut and carefully remove the negative cable from the battery. It's important to disconnect the negative terminal first to avoid accidental electrical discharge! Once the negative terminal is disconnected, repeat the process for the positive (+) terminal. Finally, remember to store the disconnected cables away from the battery terminals to prevent accidental contact. This simple process can save you from a car battery replacement in the future.

3. Store you car’s battery in a thoroughly cool and dry location

When it comes to storing car batteries, choosing the right location is essential. So, opt for a cool and dry area that is protected from extreme temperatures and moisture. This is because high temperatures can accelerate the battery's self-discharge rate and reduce its overall lifespan. Moisture can lead to corrosion and damage the battery's terminals. The experts from Four Winds KSA also recommend keeping the storage room climate controlled. This ensures a consistent temperature and humidity level, providing an ideal environment for the battery. Avoid storing the battery near sources of heat or direct sunlight too, as this can further increase the temperature and affect its performance. Additionally, it's crucial to keep the battery away from flammable materials or chemicals to prevent any accidents. By storing your car battery in a cool and dry location, you ensure its longevity and maintain its performance when it's not in use.

4. Prevent self-discharge

Preventing self-discharge in car batteries is essential to maintain their charge and longevity. Self-discharge is the name of the steady loss of charge that happens even when the battery is not in use. To minimize self-discharge, it's crucial to disconnect any electrical devices or accessories that draw power from the battery when the vehicle is off. This includes interior lights, radios, and other electronics. Additionally, if you plan to store your car for an extended period, consider using a battery maintainer or trickle charger. These devices provide a small, constant charge to the battery, preventing self-discharge and ensuring it remains in optimal condition. Another effective way to prevent self-discharge is by periodically checking the battery. By taking these preventive measures, you can significantly extend the lifespan of your car battery and avoid unexpected battery failures. 

5. Periodically recharge the battery

Periodically recharging your car battery is a crucial step in its maintenance and longevity. Even if you follow our previous advice, over time, even when the vehicle is not in use, the battery gradually loses its charge due to self-discharge. To prevent this, it's important to recharge the battery regularly. The frequency of recharging depends on factors such as storage conditions, climate, and usage patterns. As a general guideline, it is recommended to recharge the battery every three months if the vehicle is not in regular use. This helps to ensure that the battery retains an adequate charge level and remains in optimal condition. To recharge the battery, use a suitable charger designed for automotive batteries. Furthermore, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and connect the charger to the battery following the correct polarity. Finally, allow the battery to charge fully before disconnecting the charger. 

6. Check battery condition before reinstalling

Before reinstalling your car battery, it's important to check its condition to ensure optimal performance. So, start by conducting a visual inspection of the battery and its terminals. Look for any signs of corrosion, damage, or leaks. If you notice any issues, it may be necessary to clean or repair the battery before reinstalling it. Next, test the battery voltage. You do this using a multimeter or battery tester. A fully charged battery should have a voltage reading between 12.4 to 12.6 volts. If the voltage is significantly lower, it may indicate a depleted or faulty battery that needs to be replaced. Additionally, check the battery's electrolyte level if you have a maintenance-required battery. Make sure the electrolyte covers the lead plates inside the battery! If the level is low, add distilled water to bring it to the recommended level. 

Additional car battery tips and precautions

When it comes to storing car batteries and maintaining them, there are additional tips and precautions to keep in mind. First and foremost, invest in a high-quality battery that suits your vehicle's specifications. Furthermore, avoid overcharging the battery, as it can lead to damage and reduce its lifespan. Similarly, over-discharging the battery can also cause irreversible damage. Additionally, when handling car batteries, wear protective gloves and eyewear to prevent any acid contact or injury. Finally, when transporting a car battery, secure it properly to prevent tipping or damage. 

Making the best choices when storing car batteries 

If you follow our guide on the best practices for storing car batteries when not in use, we know your battery will stay safe in storage! So, it will be in perfect condition when you need it again.

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