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Excessive heat and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, this damaging the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, generator or alternator, allows too high a charging rate. Inadequate charging can make even the best battery too weak to start your car, a few preventive measures will go a long way toward keeping a battery in good condition. The main safety concerns with batteries are the possibilities of severe shock and of explosion, with a consequent spray of sulfuric acid and battery disintegration (blowing up). A auto battery creates hydrogen gas, which is explosive and can be ignited by a spark. Always wear eye protection—safety glasses or goggles, when working with a battery.

Maintenance: Keep the cable connections clean and tight. If the battery has caps (many newer batteries have sealed tops, so you do not have to add water) that let you check the water level, keep it an inch down from the top of the cell. Your battery should be tightly clamped down, so it can't move.

Keep in mind that colder temperatures increase thickness of the engine oil, making the engine harder to turn over. The battery is not dead, it is simply having to work harder.

Note: If you place the jumper cables on the wrong terminals, your battery or the battery from the vehicle providing the jump-start, could very possibly explode. VERY DANGEROUS!!!

Jump-starting: If the battery is sound but too weak to start your car, the alternator will probably be able to recharge it as you drive. The first thing is to attempt jump-starting, this will often do the job. Before you get out the cables for jump starting, check your vehicle's owner's manual. Various manufactures advise against jump-starting to protect the car's electronics from a power surge.

In addition, some batteries have a "state of charge" indicator. A fully charged battery has a colored indicator, usually green (sometimes red). Black or clear means the battery is completely discharged and you should not try to recharge or jump-start it. Also, never try a jump-start if the battery's frozen. If your battery is deformed (bulging), it must be replaced.

Make sure to follow the procedure below, EXACTLY!

-Locate the battery. It has two terminals, each marked with a symbol: - for the negative and + for the positive. In some cars, the battery is difficult to reach, so there is often a more accessible remote positive terminal in the engine compartment.

-The good battery must be similar to the one in the car that won't start. The battery you use to jump start your car, must have a 12-volt system, years ago, many older cars may have six-volt systems. Move the car with the good battery close enough for the cables (many cables are 12' long) to reach the car needing a start.

-Turn off the ignition and all accessories on both cars; set parking brakes; put transmissions in park (automatic) or neutral (manual).

-Connect the cables in this sequence!

1. Connect one cable to the positive terminal of the weak or dead battery. 2. Connect that cable's other end to the positive (+) terminal of the good battery. 3. Connect another cable to the negative (-) terminal of the good battery. 4. Connect the other end of that cable to a ground on the car that won't start. ("Do not attach the cable to the negative (-) terminal of the dead battery") the engine block is a good ground. If in doubt, check your owner’s manual for a recommended ground.

A. -Start the engine of the car with the "good battery" and let it idle. It is best to allow it to charge the dead battery at least two minutes before attempting to start the car with the low or dead battery.

B. -Start the car with the bad battery.

-After you jumped start the car and it is running, disconnect the negative cable from its ground connection, then from the terminal on the good battery. Next, disconnect the positive cable from both batteries. If the charging system warning lamp stays lit and the engine dies, your alternator or battery are in need of replacement. If the light on the dash panel goes out, there's a pretty good chance the battery will recharge as you drive.

Replacing your Battery: A healthy battery in 80-degree weather has only half of its output when the thermometer dips to zero.

When shopping, remember that a battery is rated by cold cranking amps (CCA), indicating its power and the reserve capacity rating (RC), which indicates how long your car's accessories can run and still have enough power to start the engine.

Since starting a car in cold weather can take up to twice as much current to turn over a cold engine, cars in colder climates would benefit from a higher CCA rating. Check your owner's manual for the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) minimum requirements needed for your car and select the battery adequate for you needs. Buying one with an excessive CCA rating may be a waste of money.

The more RC (reserve) the new battery has, the better, like a little extra shot of juice. The size and number of plates in a battery determine how many amps it can deliver. By having more and/or large plates, you can increase the normal life of the battery. This is what distinguishes a three-year from a five-year warranty battery.

If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it regularly, especially in hot weather

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