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Top Gear Philippines


We're right smack on the middle of the rainy season, and it looks like it isn't letting up. In these times, our car's batteries usually take the brunt of the beating. Extreme temperature changes (from hot to cold) advance the wear and tear of our batteries. The onset of corrosion doesn't help either. We thought of some little tips to help your battery last longer in monsoon conditions. 

1) Check for corrosion. Corrosion in your car battery takes the form of a greenish-white sticky powdery substance. This is caused by hydrogen gasses being released from the acid in your battery. It mixes with other things in the atmosphere under the hood of your car, and the powdery white substance appears. It usually forms in the negative pole, which leads to battery undercharging because there is high resistance to current flow. You should clean this up.

2) Clean your battery. This is actually quite simple. All you need is some water (distilled water always works best), an old toothbrush, and a little bit of electronic contact point cleaner (it comes in a spray can) which can be found in most hardware stores.

Generously soak the terminals with distilled water and start scraping off the white powdery substance with the old toothbrush until all of it is gone. Then generously spray the terminals and battery poles with electronic contact point cleaner again. Sometimes you might have to scrub a little more with the toothbrush and contact point cleaner to totally eliminate the powdery substance.

Once that's done, lightly dry the poles and terminals, but make sure to leave a good amount of the contact cleaner solution on the bare metal surfaces of the terminals and battery. You can also put a small dab of die-electric grease (also available at most hardware stores) which protects the surface of the metal terminals and poles to prevent corrosion in the future. 

3) Tighten the terminals. I’ve seen terminals loosen significantly from the battery poles due to excessive corrosion artificially keeping them tight. With all debris gone, the clams are actually quite loose. Hence check them for tightness. Remember: Do not over tighten them as you risk damaging both the battery poles and the terminals. Hand tighten just enough to keep them from moving. 

4) Replace the terminals and wires as needed. Most OEM battery cable terminals use a thin sheet of metal (to keep costs down). Over time, heat and corrosion will damage them. Invest in a good pair of battery cable terminals to prevent damage. High-quality terminals usually cover the battery poles to shield it from corrosion, and are made of metals that have a high content of more rust-resistant yellow metals or zinc plating.

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Your best bet? Car audio guys are very sensitive to sound quality, which is directly affected by their electrical system. They usually replace their battery cables and terminals with really good stuff, so get a set that is meant for high-end audio use. They will last the life of your car and are actually not that expensive. I’ve seen some go for around P1,000 a pair.

The same goes for the terminals. You might want to consider replacing the main positive and negative battery wires of your vehicle, especially if it's over five years old. This is a popular mod for people who run powerful audio systems or highly-modified cars that have rear-mounted batteries with a ton of electrical accessories (multiple fuel pumps, multiple electric fans, multiple auxiliary gauges and on-board telemetry/data-logging systems).

Again, audio-grade cables are best. You will actually see and feel a vast improvement in your car’s overall health, power and responsiveness if you switch out the main positive and negative wires to new, fresh ones. Why audio-grade cables? Because again, they resist corrosion better thanks to special coatings and chemical treatment on the surface of the cables. 

5) Invest in a battery tender/charger. Ultimately, a battery has a finite life. Constant short drives will kill it, as it takes roughly 15 minutes to recoup the energy expended to start the car. Factor in your A/C, headlights and audio system, and the amount of time the battery needs to recoup in the first few kilometers of your drive will take even longer.

But sometimes we can't help it. So the next best step is to invest in a car battery charger/tender. Some of the best systems can automatically stop charging once the battery is at 100% and stays in monitoring mode, sending a pulse to check the battery's condition, and if needed, will charge again. In theory, a battery charger/tender, if used whenever your car isn't moving, can extend the life of the battery infinitely.

Basically it can make your battery last the lifetime of your car. If you own a European luxury/sports car, this is even more crucial as the vehicle's electronics are continually running to monitor the car and its condition.     

6) Pop the hood when you get home or to a safe location. The effects might be small, but it's free so you might as well do it. Popping the hood allows the engine and the battery to cool down faster and much more evenly. Heat is the enemy of performance and longevity, so you should allow heat to escape. It will also prevent heat from seeping into the cabin, which in the long-term can damage the interior's electronics. If you have a leather interior, the heat can damage it as well.

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Botchi Santos
Consumer Editor
Botchi eats, lives and breathes cars (aside from hotdogs). Aside from wanting to drive any car, preferably through some scenic destination, he's always thinking of ways to "improve them" by modifying the (insert any car-related word here).
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