TURN OFF ALL ELECTRONICS BEFORE YOU TURN OFF YOUR ENGINE
Your battery’s primary function is to provide the power needed to start your engine. Once your engine is running, it acts as a generator that supplies power to your battery. If your air conditioning is left on when you turn off your car, the next time your turn your key in the ignition, you’re tasking your battery with starting the engine AND starting the AC, which puts an added strain on your battery. For the same reason, unplug external electronics like cell phones and iPods before you turn off your engine.
DON’T RUN ANYTHING ELECTRIC WHEN YOUR ENGINE ISN’T RUNNING
Your battery is made to start your car, not to power your headlights and radio. If you’re sitting in your car waiting for someone and you need your headlights on or want to listen to your radio, just keep your engine running so that it generates the electricity to power your battery.
KEEP YOUR BATTERY TERMINAL CORROSION-FREE
Even if you have no idea what’s going on under the hood, you can easily identify corrosion on the battery—it’s a chalky white buildup. Clean it off with baking soda mixed with water: dip an old toothbrush in the baking soda water and scrub the terminal clean, use a water spray bottle to rinse the terminal, then dry with a clean cloth. Be sure to wear rubber gloves when doing this—they call it battery acid for a reason.
PARK IN A GARAGE WHENEVER POSSIBLE
Extreme heat and cold can both drain your battery’s power.
INVEST IN A BATTERY TENDER
If you don’t use your car for extended periods, invest in a battery tender. An idle battery slowly loses its charge. To keep an idle battery at full capacity, it should be charged every six weeks.