- What are the main causes of battery failure?
· High temperatures: Heat is the No. 1 cause of battery failure. Heat accelerates grid corrosion and grid growth in the positive plate. As heat corrodes the positive grid, the battery loses capacity and starting power, which weakens its ability to start an engine – particularly in colder weather.
· High vibration: Vibration can damage and separate internal components, which ultimately lead to reduced starting performance or even battery failure.
· Deep drains/failure to recharge after drops in voltage: When a battery is discharged, the active materials produce lead sulfate crystals inside the plate that are called discharged material. If these crystals are not recharged, they eventually combine to form larger crystals. These bigger crystals are harder to dissolve and recharge, and eventually they lead to battery failure by disrupting the plate structure.
· A faulty alternator: A faulty alternator will lead to an undercharged or completely discharged battery. An undercharged battery has reduced capacity and starting power. If the battery is continuously undercharged because of a weak alternator, the battery will become deeply discharged and sulfation will occur.
Other Possible Causes of Failure:
· Battery application and installation
· The battery is not being used in the application for which it was designed. A common mistake, for example, is using an SLI (starting-lighting-ignition) battery in a vehicle that requires a deep-cycle battery.
· The battery is not sized properly for the application.
· The vehicle has too many electrical accessories.
· The battery is not properly installed.
· Service and maintenance
· The battery cables have not been cleaned and properly adjusted to fit the battery terminals.
· The vehicle’s electrical system has been repaired or altered.
· The vehicle has been in long-term storage.
- How do I store my automobile battery? Is concrete O.K.?
When storing an automobile battery, it is important to make sure it is at a full charge and the electrolyte level is full. A battery stored in a discharged state is susceptible to freezing sulfation and an increased rate of further discharge. The battery should be placed in a cool dry area, the cooler the better without going below 32°F, that is well ventilated and out of reach of children and pets.
A battery will not lose its state-of-charge strictly from placing it on a concrete surface, but will discharge it over a period of time, due simply to neglect.
- How do I jump-start a car with jumper cables?
Always try to avoid using jumper cables unless absolutely necessary. If you have no other option, follow these steps, but always check your specific vehicle instructions before attempting to jump-start (refer to the manufacturer’s handbook):
1. Set the handbrakes of both cars and place in ‘neutral’ or ‘park’. Turn off all switches. Ensure vehicles are not touching each other.
2. Connect the red cable clamp to the positive post of the dead battery. (A)
3. Connect the other end of the red cable clamp to the positive post of the live battery. (B)
4. Connect the Black cable clamp to the negative post of the live battery (C)
5. Make final connection on engine block of stalled car – as far away as possible from battery. (D)
6. Attempt to start ‘dead vehicle’ with ‘live vehicle’ engine OFF. If vehicle has not started in 15 seconds, stop procedure and check ignition and fuel systems.
7. To remove cables, reverse this exact procedure.
- How do I know when to replace my battery?
You might need to consider replacing your battery if:
· Your starter motor is experiencing slow or interrupted turnover.
· Your instrument panel battery light indicates battery discharge for extended periods after the engine is running.
· Your battery seems to lose power quickly in cold or extended starts.
· Your headlights dim at idle.
Any of these warning signals may also indicate a problem with the electrical system in your vehicle and not necessarily a battery failure. A battery that is about to fail will often give little or no warning. If you suspect that your battery is failing, have it tested or replaced as soon as possible at your local Battery Centre.
- Can a battery really explode?
Yes, so when working with or near a battery, or jump starting a vehicle, always:
· Wear glasses or safety goggles
· Shield your eyes and face from the battery
· Keep as much distance as possible from the battery
· Read warning labels on your battery
· Do not cause any flames or sparks near a battery
· Read your vehicle instruction manual before jump starting
If you get acid on your skin or in your eyes, flush with water immediately and seek medical attention.
- How do I charge my battery?
If a battery was discharged quickly then it should be recharged quickly, and a slowly discharged battery should be recharged slowly. The main concern is to not overheat nor overcharge the battery.
All batteries contain sulfuric acid and can generate explosive gases. Read and follow all warning labels before charging a battery. Be sure to charge in a well-ventilated area.
It is important to follow the charging instructions to ensure that the battery is returned to a full charge as battery chargers vary by manufacturer. For best results, charge the battery as soon as you know it is discharged.
For charging an average fully discharged automotive battery using a 10-amp automotive charger, it will take approximately 8-10 hours at 80 degrees F temperature to reach full charge.
Warning: Once a battery has been fully charged, it should be disconnected from the charger immediately. Continuing to charge a fully charged battery will severely damage the internal plates and shorten battery life.
- What are key hazards when handling a battery?
When being charged, or even when not in use, batteries may contain hydrogen gas and air in an explosive mixture. This gas can be ignited by naked flames from matches, cigarette lighters, sparks from short circuits caused by spanners or incorrectly connected jumper leads. Always disconnect the earth lead first and replace it last when removing or replacing batteries. This will minimise the risk of a short circuit between tools and vehicle frame.
Battery electrolyte contains sulphuric acid that can cause damage to eyes, skin or clothes if spilt or splashed. Flush the eyes with running water and seek medical help urgently. Wash or hose off splashes with water. Baking soda and water may be used to neutralise electrolyte and in inaccessible spaces on a vehicle.