Car batteries. It is the most commonly known car part that requires a replacement approximately every two years, or for most when it completely loses its charge. The latter usually happens more often, leaving quite a number of drivers stranded in a car park looking for a replacement. The good news is, you’re not alone and stranded. You can always holler someone to give you a jump, or call your insurance or the AAS.
Avoid jump starting your car by knowing when your car batteries need replacing.Credit: centuryauto.com.my
But what goes into a regular car battery? Well here are some things you have to know.
The perception in general is that there are two types of car batteries – a wet or dry cell battery. But contrary to popular belief, all batteries have wet cells in them. The differentiating point is whether the battery requires maintenance or is maintenance-free. While the latter is most commonly used in cars today, the conventional maintenance batteries are still available, require a little top off of electrolyte water from time to time. With proper maintenance, conventional batteries do last longer than their hassle-free counterparts.
As Singapore’s temperate climate is warmer, the batteries in our cars last half as long, compared to those living in cooler temperatures. The heat literally reduces the lifespan of a car battery. Why? Heat accelerates the chemical reactions within a battery. So if and when possible, park indoors. Or you could also change the weather if you know a few “bomohs.”
Away For Travel
This is a rather common occurrence as well. You’re planning to go on holiday for a week or more. You pack up and leave but realise when you’ve returned, your car won’t start. The reason for this is that batteries also discharge when they’re not in use. Batteries need to be constantly working or it would just fail. To prevent this, just unplug your negative terminal (black cable cover) before you head on for a long holiday. If you’re worried about your car alarm and security, you could also get your neighbour to start it for you every alternate day of the week.
Truly Maintenance Free?
The biggest misconception about maintenance-free car batteries is that they don’t require any maintenance, hence the name. But this is far from true. Although owners wouldn’t need to top off electrolyte water levels, a regular check of the terminals from corrosive build up is important. Cleaning the terminals and getting the alternator charge rate checked is key.
Driving Around For A Charge
Another mistaken notion amongst drivers is that car batteries that have gone flat can be recharged by driving around. This isn’t true. In fact continuous undercharging will lower the capacity of the battery over time and also shorten its lifespan. The only way to restore a flat battery’s charge properly is to use an appropriate multi-stage charger. The voltage from the charger needs to be strong enough to mix the battery acid evenly in the electrolyte to prevent battery ‘stratification’ (where acid concentration is light on top and heavy at the bottom).
Longer Lasting Batteries
Not Energizer brand but there are two other types of car batteries that can last up to five years. They’re known as the Gel Cell and Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries. But of course, they are more expensive than the common wet cells.
Although there are no easy ways for an owner to know when a car battery will go flat, there are warning signs that owners can look out for. If a car takes longer to start than usual, or should the clock and preset radio stations in your car reset by itself, then these signs indicate a weak battery that need to be replaced. If weary, owners can always test the charge of their batteries at a workshop.
Here's a video showing the steps to clean your car battery terminals effectively from corrosion.
What do you think? We’re sure that with this round up, you should be a little more informed about your car battery. Just be mindful of your purchase date and how long your battery should last.
Want to know more about your car tyres instead? Click here to read about how to read the markings and type of tyres.
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