The idea of the maintenance free battery was to provide car owners with a battery that could be used with less worry and hassle than their predecessors. Older car battery models were made with removable caps on the top of the battery to allow inspection and electrolyte testing, as well as the occasional addition of distilled water or sulfuric acid. Since any of these procedures could be hazardous for the average driver, manufacturers began to produce batteries that did not require such maintenance.
Whatever type of battery you currently own, there are some things you should do when it comes to your battery. For one, the cleanliness of the battery is important. Even though a maintenance free battery is completely sealed, some electrolyte residue can be discharged and deposited on the outside of the battery. Take the time every few months to carefully brush off the residue with a soft bristled brush.Battery cleaning kits are available at your local automotive supply store and come with a brush. If you would prefer, use a general service visit to ask the mechanic to wipe off this residue.
The car battery’s terminals should be occasionally cleaned as well. Carefully remove the cables to the terminals as directed in your car owner’s manual. Remember, a car battery carries a large amount of current, so disconnecting the battery should only be performed by a qualified mechanic if you are uncertain as to your ability to do so. The terminals may have corrosive build-up and will need a stiff wire brush or terminal brush to clean them. Do the same for the ends of the battery cables.
Have your battery tested yearly by a qualified mechanic. If the battery is low on charge, try using a multi-stage car battery charger to bring the battery’s charge back to a normal range. In some cases, allowing a good overnight charge will help greatly in bringing your battery back to peak performance levels. With today’s types of alternators, some will not fully charge a battery that is slowly going flat. Allowing the slow charge of a multi-stage charger will help improve your battery’s performance while keeping your alternator from overworking.
Finally, as with any other service you perform on a car, safety should come first. Never work on or around a car battery while it is connected to the battery cables. When in doubt of your abilities, have a mechanic do the work instead.