Car batteries are the source of electricity for cars and other types of vehicles. Car batteries play an important role in the normal operation of the vehicle. The more you know about car batteries, the less likely you will encounter car battery problems. Today, in this Blog, we are going to take a look at something about battery problems. We’ll cover some of the signs of battery problems, the impact of battery problems, and how to keep your battery healthy with a car battery charger.
How a Car Battery Works
They are needed to power all the electrical appliances in a car. Without the battery, not only the car’s electrical appliances would not work, but it would be impossible to even start the car. The battery is not only responsible for powering electrical appliances and start-up, it is also responsible for maintaining a stable voltage to keep the engine working properly. The battery converts chemical energy into electricity through a lead acid reaction that later powers the car’s starter. When the battery fails to function properly for various reasons, a car battery charger will be needed. If I had to summarize the function of a charger in one sentence, it could be said that all chargers work by providing a current to the battery for a period of time and hoping that the cells inside the battery will store some of it.
Some Signs of Car Battery Troubles
Most car batteries are lead acid batteries. Generally speaking, the lifespan of most lead acid batteries is usually 3-5 years. But even during that period of time, the battery can still become unstable or even fail due to some human or weather factors. These problems usually emerge with the following signs:
- Slow engine crank: This problem is often reflected when a car is started, there will be sluggish cranking of the engine. And it also takes longer time for the vehicle to get started.
- Mistaken indicators: A low battery level can also cause the mistaken lighting of some indicators of a car, such as the Check Engine Light and the Low Coolant Light. If this happens, check to see if it’s a real condition or if it’s due to low battery charge.
- Low electrolyte level: A low electrolyte level can also lead to battery abnormalities. You can check the electrolyte by looking at the electrolyte level window outside the battery or by unscrewing the battery cover. If the electrolyte level is lower than the lead plates, resulting in the exposure of the Lead plates to the air, it indicates that the electrolyte need to be replenished. The main cause of low electrolyte level is usually the overcharge of the battery.
- A swollen battery: If the battery has gone swollen, then it can be judged just from the appearance of the battery that something is wrong. To learn more about swollen lead acid batteries, please check our previous Blog: About the Swelling of Lead Acid Batteries.
- Rotten egg smell from the battery: Rotten egg smell is usually a sign of leakage in lead acid batteries. Battery leakage can cause corrosion not only in the terminals and the surroundings, but anywhere the electrolyte touches. So, it requires an immediate treatment.
Generally speaking, lead acid batteries that have been used for more than 3 years old are considered old. To calculate the service time of a lead acid battery, refer to its production date that is written on its label. While for certain high-end lead acid batteries, though, three years of use does not mean they need to be replaced. For these batteries, it is necessary to check them once a year if they are still safe to use. It’s also important to note that the way the car is driven can also affect the battery life to some extent. Frequent short drives less than 20 minutes can lead to an unstable battery condition.
Impact of a Faulty Lead Acid Battery
Apparently, faulty lead acid batteries will fail to provide a steady power supply to the electric appliances of a car. They will not even provide enough power to start a car either. They can even cause further problems. Among these problems, the most significant will be that the faulty battery has a great impact on the starter.
A faulty battery will not have a direct impact on the starter. But they can indirectly affect the starter. When a car starts with a faulty battery, even though the power is not enough to start the engine, there will still be electricity flowing through the brushes and the armature of the starter. Then, since the armature is not turning, the brushes will frequently touch the commutators. These constant attempts will causes the damage to the field coils on the starter.
A faulty battery can also potentially affect other components of a car. These components can be the starter motor, the charging system, etc. Although it may not cause obvious damage in the short term, if the problem persists for too long, you could end up paying bills for expensive car components.
How to keep Car Batteries Healthy
Car batteries are somewhat expendables. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing we can do to maintain their performance and prolong their lifespan. Here are what we can do for a better battery use and maintenance:
- Keep the battery top clean. Use a toothbrush and baking soda solution to clean the battery terminals if necessary. This will ensure that the terminals are not covered with corrosion which will gradually affect the battery performance if left untreated.
- Test the voltage of the battery monthly with a multimeter. And if necessary, ask a pro to check the battery condition.
- Avoid frequent short-distance driving, and do not let the vehicle idle for too long.
- Make sure that all appliances have been turned off every time you leave a car.
- Avoid overcharging. The overcharging of a lead acid battery is definitely harmful. Therefore, when making a purchase, choose a car battery charger with automatic shutdown function to avoid such problem.
- Ensure that the battery is firmly fastened to the vehicle to avoid damage due to turbulence.
- Avoid exposure to extreme temperature conditions. The optimum working temperature for lead acid batteries is 15-35℃. Therefore, whether it’s in summer or winter, it’s highly necessary to avoid the battery’s exposure to extremely low or high temperature conditions.
Choosing a compatible car battery charger can realize a timely and effective charging and maintenance for the battery. In addition, with the possession of a car battery charger, there will not be unnecessary extra driving of the car any more. For more benefits of owning a car battery charger, please go to our previous Blog: Why Do We Need a Car Battery Charger?
What to Consider when Choosing a Car Battery Charger
The basic function of the car battery charger is to charge. Some car battery chargers with pulse repair functions can be used to solve battery sulfation problems. When talking about their efficiency, they are also divided into conventional car battery chargers and trickle chargers. Conventional battery chargers can only provide the basic CCCV (constant current, constant voltage) charging mode. A trickle charger can charge a battery at a steady and low current, so that they can be connected to the battery for long time without the concern of overcharging. There are several factors need to be considered when choosing a right car battery charger. These include security, plug and play, and versatility. The versatility here refers to whether a car battery charger has a desulfation function as well as its basic charging function. In addition, when making the purchase, the location where it will be used, the battery voltage and battery power requirement also need to be taken into account.
A Conventional Car Battery Charger or a Trickle Charger
The consideration in choosing a conventional car battery charger or a trickle charger with maintenance function is whether it will be used for a massive charging needs or just for battery maintenance. For example, if you are running an amusement park that owns quite a lot of bumper cars, or a nursing facility that both has many wheelchair batteries waiting to be charged, what you need will be several conventional car battery chargers with large charging power. While you are about to buy a charger to ensure that your car or motorcycle battery can be well maintained when it’s left idle, then a trickle charger with battery maintenance function will be the best choice. In addition, winter is often the season when car batteries are prone to failure. A trickle charger can help keep the battery stable through the cold season. For more details about a trickle charger, just go to our Blog: A Trickle Charger Can Prevent Car Battery Failures in Winter
Don’t Choose Low-priced Car Battery Chargers
In the market, many low-priced car battery chargers can sometimes attract our attention. They seem to be capable of doing the same work compared with their high-end counterparts. But why don’t we suggest the purchase of these products? The reason is that these low-priced battery chargers not only fail to charge or maintain the battery well, but also affect the health of the battery. Their low pricing is realized by the use of inferior components. When it comes to charging batteries, battery chargers often need to work for as long as 12-24 hours. Low-priced battery chargers are mostly not capable of doing the job for long time. They can easily fail after a short period of use due to their poor quality components. They may sometimes pose a direct threat to the long-term stability of the battery. Therefore, considering the cost performance and long-term stability of the battery, it is suggested to choose high-quality car battery chargers.