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Check Electrical Systems, Too

Batteries perform many important functions, and often fail prematurely because of poor maintenance. If a battery is not clean and dry, remove the cables, douse it liberally with baking soda and then scrub it clean with soap and water.

Use a stainless steel brush to polish the terminals until they are a shiny lead colour. Clean the cable ends with a wire brush as well. All battery connections should be shiny before they’re reinstalled. Although commonly used, bolt-on battery cable ends are only meant to be temporary replacements. Replace faulty cables with OEM or solder-on ends as soon as possible.

Make sure battery cells are full of distilled water. Full is approximately half an inch above the top of the cells. (This isn’t possible on sealed batteries.) Do not use tap water, which contains impurities that will shorten a battery’s life.

Keep batteries tightly secured in place in vehicles to prevent physical damage.

Next, check the alternator drive belt tension and condition. Remember, a belt drives from the sides of the pulley; so if the belt is sunk into the pulley, the belt probably needs to be replaced. Also, inspect the pulley to see if the sides are worn. If so, replace it, too.

Do not over tighten a belt to stop it from slipping, an over-tightened belt will cause alternator and water pump bearing failures. Blow out any dust that has accumulated in the alternator housing. Keeping the alternator clean will allow it to run cooler and prolong its life.

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