Car Batteries–Tips and information

The car battery brings about a very odd thought pattern in the human mind. Thought of intensely, almost mythically, when its going wrong, yet completely forgotten and taken for granted the second it starts to work again. Why do we have such a strange relationship with this “it’s heavier than it looks” essential car component? After looking online I think I have the answer; we simply know little or nothing about it. With this in mind, we decided this week to work with our maintenance department to take a look at the thing that makes us rely on complete strangers; the black box that is the car battery.

What is it and how does it work?

Car batteries are usually based on a lead-acid model where the battery is composed of 6 cells which create a 12.6v charge. The battery is also behind the starting, lighting and ignition  of the vehicle, so its upkeep is vital unless you enjoy sitting by the side of the road and twiddling your thumbs.

Information and tips on batteries

  • A dead battery may be a sign of a wider problem – sometimes a flat battery is simply down to leaving lights on, however sometimes it’s down to one part of your vehicle demanding too much of the battery.
  • Electronic testers – you can test your battery by either buying a tester or getting it tested by a mechanic to see if the battery is in good shape or not.
  • If the battery is older than three or 2-3 years, start expecting problems – the ordinary lifespan is 4 years however this can vary depending on use and the model involved.
  • Short trips and long periods of inactivity will sap a battery's life – the constant starting and stopping has an impact on the effectiveness of the battery and can shorten a battery’s life length.
  • Corrosion or stains mean you have a leak - Look for build-up or stains around the terminals as a leaky battery can fail faster.
  • Clean off build-up or stains with baking soda and water – Although its relatively easy to do, remember that like with everything have a mechanic do this if you don’t feel comfortable with it.
  • Secure the battery – An unstable battery can cause real problems as you need to remember there are fluids inside the battery and the constant shaking can cause difficulty within. This is especially important as you need to avoid the water making contact with the terminals or other vital equipment.

Final thoughts

Knowing more about your vehicle will always work out in the long run. Considering how important your car battery is in your life is hard to comprehend until something goes wrong. If you enjoy the technical side of things it can be very satisfying to research the battery that does the work for you. As boring as it may seem it can give the more patient car owners among us a real insight into what their vehicle is made of.

*Article has been edited and approved by the Fleetcare maintenance department.

Have you had a battery nightmare?
 

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