Your car may be fitted with tens of thousands of individual parts, but not all of these can be regarded as "critical" to its operation. For example, the interior light bulb may fail or an individual fuse may blow, but you will still be able to drive the car from point to point. However, certain components will definitely leave you stranded by the side of the road should they decide to give up the ghost, and the humble battery is at the top of that list. Why should you pay close attention to its upkeep, and what should you do if it fails?
Passage of Time
Many of the components fitted to your car are designed to deteriorate as time goes by. The battery is one of these parts, and while it is certainly designed to last for a reasonable amount of time and give you fair value for your money, it will eventually need to be changed.
Not Maintenance Free
Some batteries are marked as "maintenance-free" and may feature the latest technology, but you still need to ensure that they are in good condition and inspect the casing and connections from time to time. If you notice any corrosion around the cables or terminals, then you should clean this off carefully with a wire brush and apply some petroleum jelly to help maintain the flow.
Be careful to ensure that you do not drain the battery by leaving some of those energy hogging components on inadvertently. If you do happen to leave the lights on and find that the battery has drained down close to zero, then you will need to connect it to a charger and set it to "trickle charge" overnight. If you don't, you may have seriously depleted its capacity, and it may be more vulnerable to failure from then on.
At the first signs of trouble, you should replace the battery, especially if you have owned it for some time. For example, if you find it difficult to crank the car in the morning and this pattern repeats itself for several days, do something about this now before it fails altogether.
However, all of this may be good advice in retrospect, but you now find that you are stranded by the side of the road with a dead battery. If it is simply not practical to get somebody else to help you with a jumpstart, or you do not feel safe in doing so, then you need to call for assistance.
Looking to the Future
Once the 24/7 emergency breakdown assistance company has helped you get back to civilisation once again, make sure that you buy the best quality replacement battery that you can find.