Here`s how you can prevent and fix winter battery problems.
It is a common occurrence for car batteries to exhibit problems during winter because they must work harder to crank a cold engine. Now that its winter in South Africa, motorists must take extra care of their car batteries for optimal performance.
7 ways to ensure that your car battery stays efficient during winter.
- Regularly charge your car battery to full:
To ensure a longer lifespan you many need to drive your car for a longer period If you usually only drive short distances.
- Firmly secure the battery:
Ensure that the battery doesn’t wobble or shift out of place while driving.
- Turn off A/C before cranking:
Make sure that you switch of everything off first before cranking. Things like the air-conditioner, radio, lights, seat warmers, windscreen wipers, and demister. In cold weather, a fully charged car battery works at a lessor capacity than in warm weather so it is important to save as much battery energy as possible before starting the vehicle.
- Maintain the right electrolyte level:
If it doesn’t cover the fluid plates, then you must top it up with distilled water. Take caution to overfilling and clean any spillage.
- Keep Battery terminals clean: by wiping the terminals with warm (not hot) soapy water and remove any acid or dirt build-up, which could cause the battery to self-discharge quicker.
We recommend Spanjaard Battery Terminal Protector
- Alternator belts.Check the belts for fraying or cracking. A loose alternator belt is a common cause of battery failure.
- Replace worn our battery terminals. If any corrosion develops along the battery terminals, this may interfere with the connectionand the vehicle may have trouble starting. Consequently, it will damage the battery or the vehicle or both.
A car battery should typically last anything between two and four years. Repetitive discharge/recharge cycles like driving short distances shorten the battery's life. Another major culprit is that. To avoid being stuck with a dead battery, always turn the headlights and interior lights off when you're done driving. Remember that leaving electronics like GPS or cell phones plugged into a car charger can drain the battery, too. No matter how well you take care of it, eventually your battery will die and you'll need a replacement. For a reliable strong battery we recommend the Exide Passenger, SUV, 4x4 and LDV Battery Range.
Failing batteries usually display obvious symptoms that let you know it's on its way out. Slow cranking on start-up indicates that the battery may not be able to provide enough power to fire up the engine, and an illuminated Battery Warning Light on the dashboard is clear indicator it needs attention. If vehicle electronics like remote locks or interior lights randomly stop working, a dying or dead battery could be why.
Ambient temperature has a significant impact on battery life and performance. Most car batteries use a liquid electrolyte solution to hold a charge, which is affected by hot or cold weather. While it takes extremely low temperatures to freeze a battery, cold reduces the solution's ability to transfer full power (which is why it can be hard to start a car in winter).
There's a misconception that buying a battery with a higher CCA (cold cranking amp) rating will remedy this, but since vehicle computers regulate the amperage required for startup, it actually won't make any difference. Use a battery heater instead – it's like a toasty jacket that will keep your battery warm and reliable all winter.
On the other hand, hot weather can cause the battery solution to evaporate, limiting its ability to hold a charge. You may notice a rotten egg smell from the sulphur in the solution if this happens. A common myth is that you can simply refill it with tap water to make up for evaporation, but tap water contains minerals and impurities that can damage battery cells. Use deionized or demineralized water instead, but if you must do this it's probably a sign that you need a replacement soon. Keeping your car garaged helps the battery cope with temperature extremes so it lasts longer and works more reliably.
What makes up a car battery?
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it. This article also seeks to demystify any false information you might have and answer all the questions you might have about your car battery. Firstly, we need to understand what a car battery does and how it works. A car battery`s primary use is to provide electricity needed to initiate the process of igniting your car`s engine. Without a charged battery your vehicle will not start. So how exactly does the battery work? When you insert the key in your car’s ignition and turn the switch or push the button to ‘ON,’ a signal is sent to the car’s battery. Upon receiving this signal, the car battery converts chemical energy into electrical energy. This electrical power is delivered to the starter to crank the engine.
A car battery is in fact 6 smaller batteries that are lined up in a sequence. Adding the individual voltages of each battery together will give you a grand voltage total. Take the standard car battery for example, it is usually written 12 volts, while in actual fact the true voltage is 12.6. Although battery technology comes in a wide range of variants the principle remains the same. Voltage is the amount of electrical potential your battery holds therefore a battery has six cells, each with 2.1 volts at full charge. A car battery is considered charged at 12.4 volts or higher.
Battery Voltage and State of Charge:
12.66v . . . . . . . . . . 100%
12.45v . . . . . . . . . . 75%
12.24v . . . . . . . . . . 50%
12.06v . . . . . . . . . . 25%
11.89v . . . . . . . . . . 0%
Chemistry : Electrical energy in a battery is generated by a chemical reaction. In the case of a lead-acid battery, a mixture of sulfuric acid and water, known as electrolyte, reacts with active material inside the battery. A battery’s voltage largely depends on the concentration of sulfuric acid. To get a voltage of 12.6 volts or higher, the weight percentage of sulfuric acid should be 35 percent or more. As a battery is discharged, the reaction between sulfuric acid and active material forms a different compound and the concentration of sulfuric acid declines. Over time, this causes the battery’s voltage to drop.
Cranking Control : Vehicle engines require cranking power to start. The power needed depends on many factors, such as engine type, engine size and temperature. Typically, as temperatures drop, more power is needed to start the engine. Cold cranking amps (CCA) is a rating that measures a battery’s cranking power. It refers to the number of amps a 12-volt battery can deliver at 0°F for 30 seconds while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volts. For example, a 12-volt battery with a 600 CCA rating means that at 0°F, the battery will provide 600 amps for 30 seconds without dropping below 7.2 volts.
Jump starting a dead battery : It is safe to assume that every driver has had to deal with a dead battery at some point. Jump starting is usually the easiest and fastest way to get it recharged. Whenever a battery is fully discharged its life becomes shorter. Consequently, the alternator will have to work harder to recharge that drained battery therefore affecting the fuel economy. It's a relatively straight forward process, but it's still important to follow these steps exactly.
First option is to use the SUPA-LED Jump Start Kit - 18000 mAh
This portable and convenient device jumpstarts your car easily when you don’t have another car to provide power and or when you don’t have a vehicle with a fully charged battery of the same voltage of the car being jumped. I strongly recommend that you add this to your shopping list.
Alternatively, Here is what you need and how to jumpstart a car:
- For car specific instructions always refer to the owner's manual.
- Another vehicle with a fully charged battery of the same voltage of the car being jumped.
- Rubber work gloves (sounds ridiculous but trust me)
- Safety goggles (trust me)
- Turn off the vehicle with the good battery.
- Park the vehicles close enough so that the jumper cables reach each battery.
- Turn off or unplug any electronics, including headlights, hazard lights, radios, or cell phone chargers in each vehicle.
- Make sure each vehicle is in Neutral or Park.
- Open the hood of each vehicle and put on the work gloves and safety goggles.
- Connect one end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the red positive (+) post of the dead battery.
- Connect the other end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the red positive (+) post of the charged battery.
- Connect one end of the black (negative) jumper cable to the black negative (-) post of the charged battery.
- Connect the other end of the black (negative) jumper cable to an unpainted metal part in the dead car, as far from the battery as the cable will reach. This grounds the circuit and helps prevent sparking. Now you're ready to actually jumpstart the car.
- Turn on the car with the fully charged battery and let it idle for roughly five to 10 minutes. Revving the engine won't help: jumpstarting draws amps from the good battery, which is unaffected by engine power.
- Turn off the engine and remove the cables in reverse order, being careful to not let the clamps touch any metal surface.
- Start the car with the dead battery. If it starts, let it idle for at least 20 minutes, or go on a five-mile drive so the battery can recharge. If it still won't start, repeat the process.
In conclusion, always remember that your battery is the heart beat of your car. Do well to ensure that it is serviced regularly and that it is in good working order to avoid the nightmare of being stuck with a dead battery.