Most drivers have dealt with the inconvenience of a dead battery; it’s almost a right of passage. And even for a car in otherwise perfect condition, it won’t move forward without battery power. You see, this vital component converts chemical energy into electrical energy to ignite the starter, and without sufficient voltage, you’ll hear nothing but crickets.
When It’s Not the Battery’s Fault
Did you know that loss of battery power sometimes comes from another problem outside the battery itself? Often, it’s a faulty electrical connection causing the issue. Since the battery sends energy to other vehicle components via terminals and cables, these pathways must be clean for successful energy transfer.
If you turn the ignition and hear nothing or a faint click, the trouble is likely the battery. However, if you hear a series of faint clicks (like a chatter), this sound usually points to a failed connection.
To maintain a good electrical connection, experts recommend having battery terminals and cables cleaned periodically. Technicians might also check the clamp or bolt that fits near the battery post, as these surfaces should be clear of dust and corrosion to function properly. Since batteries and the areas around them can collect powdery deposits, these metal surfaces should be wiped and brightened, as well.
If focusing on these elements doesn’t renew power, it could be a loosely-connected starter motor or solenoid. Although, unlike a failing battery or dirty terminals, an issue with one of these parts can cause a spark (which brings a dangerous fire hazard).
To clean electrical terminals at home, you’ll need an emery cloth to brighten battery posts and a wire brush to clear debris from clamp and cup connectors. If you notice a lot of powdery buildup on the terminals, it can be removed and brightened with a small amount of hot water and baking soda.
After a thorough cleaning, connectors should be coated with petroleum jelly before re-attaching. This step acts as a corrosion deterrent and aids conductivity.
As one of the most important components on your vehicle, a battery and its connection must be effectively maintained. If you’re not comfortable checking this area yourself, have a professional take a look periodically. It never hurts to get ahead of an issue before things get out of hand. And as always, preventative measures save time and money on potential disasters down the road.
For all your vehicle’s maintenance and repair needs, call Fairfax Auto Repair at 703-822-5911 and schedule an appointment today!