T he battery is becoming the chronic weak point of modern cars. According to the German Automobile Association (ADAC), an empty or defective battery was the number one cause of breakdowns in 2014: 709.939 drivers had to wait for the yellow angels last year for this reason. In 2015, there should be even more, because from january to october, the ADAC already registered 622.809 uses. And the cold days are still to come.
There are two main reasons for the misery: firstly, the increasing use of electronics in modern cars and the resulting rise in power requirements, and secondly, extreme short-distance driving. If you only drive three or four kilometers to work and back every day, your vehicle battery will not be sufficiently charged, and will even be successively discharged.
This negative balance increases even more in winter, because the battery, which is already weakened by minus temperatures, is additionally drained by power guzzlers such as seat heaters or heated rear windows. Sooner or later, the starter motor will die after the first few revolutions.
Do not replace the car battery right away
This often happens in the second or third year of the car’s life and often has expensive consequences for the owner. Breakdown services and garages tend to declare empty batteries as defective and install a new one for a lot of money. Around ten million are sold in germany every year. Depending on the vehicle, amounts of up to several hundred euros can quickly become due.
In many cases, the hasty disposal of batteries has long been a thorn in the side of klaus kruger, managing director of novitec gmbh in saarbrucken, germany. "Simply throwing away a battery without testing it is not only economically but also ecologically nonsensical," scolds the expert, who has been considered a guru in the battery industry for decades.
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Source: die welt
"it’s not just the car driver who’s to blame, because he lacks the basic knowledge, but above all the industry, which advertises batteries as maintenance-free. But that is exactly what a battery has never been and will not be in the future."
Older drivers still remember that in the past, when buying a new car, the salesman would take a dry, pre-charged battery from the shelf and fill it with sulfuric acid in the presence of the buyer. Only from this point on was the new battery ready for use.
"Batteries like this were still around until the turn of the millennium," says kruger. "Today, on the other hand, they stand in the store ready to be filled and wait for months or even years for buyers. Around 80 percent of batteries are not recharged during storage and are therefore overstocked.
The durability and service life of car batteries
In many cases, the buyer receives a partially discharged and already damaged battery. Random checks by the french car magazine ‘auto plus’ revealed that 44 percent of the batteries sold in DIY stores were overaged."
With the introduction of the alleged freedom from maintenance, the sealing plugs on the top of most batteries were also eliminated. It is therefore no longer possible to top up with distilled water or to measure the acid density. The battery mutates into an ex-and-hop item that is often thrown away after only three or four years.
But its life can easily be extended to 15 years by regular recharging about every two months, as our long-term self-experiment proved. Expert kruger even reports on functional examples that are up to 20 years old, so the battery lasts longer than many a car.
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Source: the world
"it is vital to continuously monitor the battery voltage at least every two weeks," he advises. All that is needed is an inexpensive multimeter from the hardware store or, better still, a digital voltage indicator for the on-board socket, such as is available from specialist dealers for around 20 euros.
If it shows less than 12.4 volts, it needs to be recharged with a charger. If the battery voltage remains below 12.4 volts for a longer period of time, for example in the case of oldtimers, temporarily immobilized vehicles or those with seasonal license plates, sulfation sets in.
In this chemical process, crystallized lead sulfate is deposited on the battery plates. With increasing sulfation, the battery’s charging capacity decreases more and more until it can no longer be charged.
Car batteries can be revived with a pulser
If you are particularly fond of your battery, you can not only check and charge it at regular intervals, but you can also give it a so-called pulser. This costs around 70 euros at a specialist shop, is mounted on the battery and connected to the two poles.
Uniform, high-frequency current pulses cause the crystals on the battery plates to form again and the battery becomes chargeable again: charge voltage, acid density and cold test current all increase measurably. Series of tests at the technical university of vienna came to the conclusion that 86 percent of the alleged scrap batteries could be successfully revived in this way.
How batteries last longer and what to watch out for
To conserve the battery, it is advisable to switch on power consumers such as the radio, high beam and seat heating only when the engine is running. Otherwise the battery is unnecessarily stressed. discharged batteries can often be recharged. Generally, it is advisable to wear gloves when working with car batteries to protect yourself from possible leaking battery acid. If starting help is needed, it is important to observe the correct cable sequence. Do not connect the ground cable to the negative pole of the battery. Otherwise there may be an overload. If the battery should be "completely dead", then it is recommended to check the alternator, regulator and cables, so that defects there can be excluded and an unnecessary battery purchase can be avoided.