Your car battery is the heart that keeps your car going. It’s essential for almost every critical component of your vehicle, from your lights to your ignition, your fuel pump to your heating. Without a strong, healthy battery, you’re going nowhere.
Toyotas have a reputation for exceptional reliability but even a mighty Hilux or Toyota Camry can be brought to a shuddering halt if the battery is faulty. Keeping on top of your car battery maintenance is essential to keep your wheels turning. Here are our top tips to ensure your car starts every time you turn the key or press the button.
Sometimes, a dead battery may be something that can be very quickly and easily resolved. A visual check will tell you if a battery terminal contact is loose or if there is any corrosion around the terminals, if a vent pipe is blocked, or if there is any visible damage. Make sure everything is clean and secure, but always ensure that the ignition is off before you touch the battery to tighten terminal connectors, for example.
If you have what is known as a ‘wet’ battery, it will need to have enough distilled water in the cells to cover the battery plates. If the water level drops and the plates are exposed they can lose their efficiency very quickly. You’ll notice that it gets harder to start the vehicle. You’ll know if you have a wet battery as it will have filler caps on the top of the case. If you do top your battery up, use distilled water and not tap water, which has minerals in it that may speed up plate corrosion.
This is a tough one for drivers in the UAE, especially during the summer. Extreme temperatures (both heat and cold) can adversely affect a battery’s performance. If a battery gets too hot, the fluid will start to evaporate and the battery will fail more quickly. Have it checked every couple of years, or if you are concerned that your vehicle has been getting hot even when parked. Most “wet batteries” now have sealed housings, so called “maintenance free” or “MF” batteries.
If you don’t use your car for a prolonged period, you may find that the battery loses its charge. A regular drive ensures that the car’s alternator produces enough electricity to charge the battery and keep it working correctly.
If you can’t get out on the road for at least 60 minutes a week, or if you’re going away and are not using your car for a while, a battery charger with a trickle charge feature could help. A smart battery charger will automatically recognise when the battery’s voltage has reached the correct level and shut off, avoiding ‘overcharging’ the battery. They can also recondition a battery with a special setting that gets rid of corrosion on the battery’s internal components, keeping it in tip-top condition.
Just like a dentist’s appointment, you sometimes need to turn to a professional to make sure everything is okay. A battery check-up at your local service center will make sure your battery is performing at its best. If your technician spots a problem, they can either help you take better care of your battery, or replace it for you with a new one. However, don’t waste money trying to revive a dead battery if it’s beyond saving. The best thing you can do for your car and your wallet is to simply replace it with a new one.