Sunday, June 10, 2012

Car care: increasing the life of your battery

[Article copyright by Ewe Paik Leong]

Before discussing how to increase the life of your car battery, let’s look at the factor to consider when choosing a new battery. First, the battery’s CCA must at least meet the car’s OEM cranking requirement. CCM (Cold Cranking Amps) is a measure of how many amps it can deliver over 30 seconds at zero degrees Fahrenheit (or 22 degrees Centigrade) while maintaining a 7.2 voltage for a 12 volt battery.

Second, go for a battery that has more Reserve Capacity (This is the number of minutes a battery at 80 degrees Fahrenheit (or 26.7 degrees Centigrade) can be discharged at 25 amps until the voltage falls below 10.5 volts for a 12-volt battery.)

Third, there are advantages and disadvantages with low-maintenance (non-sealed) and maintenance free (non-sealed or sealed) batteries. Maintenance-free batteries have longer life, allows faster re-charging, has greater over-charge resistance and reduced terminal corrosion but they are susceptible to deep discharge failures due to increased shedding of active plate material.

Fourth, avoid buying a battery that has been on the shelf for more than six months.
Normally, the date of manufacture is stamped on the outside or printed on a sticker.

Fifth, be sure to know the battery’s specific warranty. Some manufacturers offer only prorated warranty instead of free-placement warranty.

Lastly, make sure the battery will fit, meaning the cable cane be connected to the terminals and the bonnet of the car does not touch the terminals when it is closed.

To increase the life of your car battery, observe some do’s and donts:

1. Regularly check the electrolyte levels. If they are low, add only distilled water and not tap water. Also, do not overfill.
2. Before starting the engine, turn off all lights and other accessories.
3. Recharge the battery when it reaches 80% state-of-charge or every six months, whichever comes first.
4. Never leave the lights and other accessories on after switching off the engine.

A word of caution: batteries contain a sulphuric acid electrolyte which is a corrosive poison that produces gases when recharged and will explode if ignited. When working with batteries, have plenty of ventilation and wear protective clothing and eye-wear.


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