We may specialise in electric cars here at GVI Electric, but we believe in proper maintenance no matter what kind of car you drive. During a period of inactivity for an EV or ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle, it’s crucial to keep the 12V battery in good condition so you don’t find yourself stranded when your routine finally returns to normal.
Few people ever learn how to care for a car battery when it’s not going to be used for a while. With our current situation, however, we all must learn quickly. Wether you have an ICE or EV car and want to keep its battery in good shape during the lockdown, read on.
How Inactivity Affects Your Car Battery
If you drive an ICE vehicle, then general battery maintenance is a familiar part of your car’s yearly care regimen. Making sure it’s charged, serviced, and corrosion-free is part of a standard service. Therefore, it can be easy to think that your car doesn’t need any regular maintenance if it isn’t moving. That’s not the case.
Sending a current through the battery “keeps it young”, by activating the battery fluid and sending a charge through the terminal joints, both of which discourage deterioration. Inactivity can wreak havoc on your car’s battery if proper caution is not exercised. Unlike eco-friendly cars (especially pure electric ones), combustion engine batteries are not self-maintaining. Therefore, they’re vulnerable to rusting, corrosion, and sulphating as time marches on without the key turning.
The two biggest things to look out for are battery sulphation and corrosion.
Our Tips for Preventing Corrosion and Sulphation
Generally, hopping into your car every few days to take it for a drive is good practice. It sends a charge through the battery, dissolving sulphates that might build up and helping to prevent corrosion on the terminals.
Here are some extra measures you can take to be sure your car is in good shape come the end of lockdown.
Let’s start with corrosion. The metal terminals, joints, screws, and clamps dotting your car’s battery are all vulnerable to rust and corrosion from a build-up of condensation. Without the jolt an electric current provides, these metal parts can start to degrade, rendering your battery useless when it comes time to turn the car back on.
Prevent this by taking your car out for a drive every few days, or even idling it in the driveway for a few minutes each morning. Pop the hood regularly to check the terminals for any signs of corrosion or rust. You can also take a baking soda solution to the terminals of the battery—once your car is off and has cooled down—if you spot corrosion build-up (though it is best to leave this to the pros).
A little-known impact of inactivity is battery sulphation. In short, it’s a fundamental change to the battery fluid’s chemistry, caused by a build-up of lead sulphate crystals in the battery plates.
This happens when the battery isn’t charged up to full voltage for a long time. The longer this goes on, the bigger the lead sulphate crystals get, making them harder to dissolve when recharging the battery. Your battery can’t perform well when these large crystals are blocking the chemical reaction that allows it to hold a charge, so it’s important to prevent this from happening.
As with corrosion, a drive around the block will break down any sulphates accumulating in the battery fluid. If your car isn’t driveable and you want to keep the battery healthy, store it in a cool and dry place away from sunlight. Once you’re ready to put it back in the car, charge it using a battery charger that has a de-sulphation mode. This slowly breaks apart the accumulated crystals, allowing the battery to hold charge again.
If you’re not an ICE car owner, then the good news is you don’t have to worry! Electric cars have their own internal management and use lithium-ion batteries, so problems like sulphation don’t plague electric car owners.
Switch to an electric vehicle and enjoy a quiet, low-maintenance lifestyle
Electric vehicles don’t have an internal combustion engine, so they have far fewer components to look after and are less prone to damage. If that sounds like the lifestyle you’re after, look no further than GVI Electric!
We’re Auckland’s best supplier of second-hand electric cars, leading the charge for a better, more eco-friendly New Zealand! Visit our dealership or call to enquire about a vehicle today.