Car battery maintenance ➤ What’s inside automobile battery ➤ Types of car batteries ➤ Tricks for automotive accumulator maintenance ✅
Car Battery Maintenance Tips
An auto accumulator is a powerful battery used on automotive and motor transport. It is used as both main and supplementary sources of electric power in onboard circuits and also for engine start. It is one of the essential elements of electric equipment in a vehicle. It performs several functions in an automobile:
- provides power for engine starter;
- supplies electricity consumers with power as an additional source when the engine is off, complementing alternator.
Being used together with an alternator, accumulator battery guarantees the flawless performance of all necessary intermediary processes which require high current power. Additionally, it smoothens voltage peaks and pulsation in the circuit. So, we offer some simple battery maintenance tips for its flawless performance for a long time.
What is inside automobile accumulator and how does it work
Accumulator External link of an automobile operates on a principle of conversion electric energy into chemical and vice versa. While the battery is being charged electric energy transforms into chemical, and while actual battery usage chemical energy becomes electrical and feeds vehicle systems.
The mode of automobile’s accumulator performance can be described as a permanent cyclic procedure – charge, discharge and again charge.
When the battery feeds connected devices, active part of negative and positive electrodes enter into reaction with electrolytes reducing their density and making up lead sulfate and distilled water. When the engine works, the battery can charge from the alternator, increasing electrolyte density.
The battery should be charged only with the optimum current rate specified by the manufacturer. If the voltage gets too high electrolyte level substantially reduces. At the same time, the battery cannot be fully charged with the low current rate. Regular charging at low power is fraught with a lack of power delivery to the battery which results in the necessity of its change.
Also, accumulator performance directly depends on the temperature of the environment. When the temperature increases, output power grows proportionally. However, it also highly increases the risk of electrodes corrosion and battery self-discharging. Under low temperatures electrolytes reaction is inhibited, their density gets lower and discharging capacity suffers.
If there is no load on the battery it does not provide charge saving. The average operational life of a standard automobile accumulator is estimated at 4-5 years. However, this number can both substantially increase and decrease because of some exploitation moments.
Producers develop new accumulators to improve their efficiency and durability. So, one of the latest achievements is introducing a system that regulates the accumulator’s energy balancing. In other words, the system manages to switch electric consumers on and off. Also, manufacturers offer to use two batteries at once – one for engine run-up and the other for supplying peripheral systems onboard the auto. Also, they tend to improve inner construction (using EFB and AGM).
General specifications of a car battery
Remember the following parameters which are used to measure accumulator efficiency for a better understanding of how the battery works and to be able to choose the optimum model:
1. Nominal capacity
This criterion is defined as the volume of energy which can be provided by a fully charged accumulator at longtime usage mode. To be more exact – for more than 20 hours. This value is measured in Amper-hours.
So, for example, a battery with 50 Ampere-hours (Ah) capacity can output the current of 2.5 Amper rate.
2. Nominal voltage
Nominal voltage is the sum of voltages of all separate battery cells.
3. Backup capacity
This is the unofficial parameter measured in minutes. Broadly speaking, it is the time accumulator is capable to work for both himself and alternator at power outage down to 10.5 Volts. It is usually no less than 1 hour 30 minutes (90 min).
4. Cold cranking amps
This is the range that specifies the abilities of accumulator battery at engine start under low temperatures. The higher cold cranking amps rate is, the easier engine can be started after a night in a sub-zero environment. This parameter is calculated in the following way: they count current rate the battery is able to output under -18 degrees centigrade for 10 seconds at no less than 7.5 Volts.
Types of automobile accumulators
Depending on structural features, accumulator batteries for auto vehicles are divided into the following types:
Lead plates of this accumulator type contain about 5% stibium. This is a widely spread so-called classic accumulator. However, in up-to-date car models, they are used very rarely because they were superseded by ACs with low stibium content.
This element is added to plumbed in order to substantially increase plate rigidity. Accumulators of such type are intentionally made serviceable so that the owner could check electrolyte density and fulfill water balance on a monthly basis.
Rate of stibium containing in such accumulator type not exceed 5%. Their usage is far more comfortable because of no need to regularly check the level of electrolyte. Also, low-stibium automotive batteries have a strongly reduced self-discharge rate at long-term storage when unused.
3. Combined or hybrid
Such automotive accumulators have ‘Ca+’ tagging. Part of their electrode plates is made with a small amount of stibium, and the other part with calcium. Such technology allows combining all benefits of both battery types at once. Notably, water consumption in such a battery is several times lower than in those containing stibium. Moreover, hybrid accumulators are peculiar for their resistance to current rate drops. It is far higher than in calcium analogs.
Gel accumulators for auto vehicles are called so because electrolyte inside them is contained not in the fluid aggregate state but as a gel. Also, gel accumulators can be of the AGM type. They have similar characteristics but AGM ones have a special spongy interior layer which contains an electrolyte and prevents electrode peeling.
Moreover, thank specific electrolyte consistency such batteries are incline-resistant. However, specialists still recommend not to use gel automotive accumulators in flipped or substantially inclined position.
The disadvantage of such a structure is that the gel loses conductivity under low-temperature circumstances.
5. With calcium content
Accumulator battery with calcium was created in search of decision the problem of ‘boiling out’ water. The manufacturer has changed stibium in the grids with calcium. It is very easy to identify such batteries in a sale – they have ‘Ca/Ca’ tagging.
The structure of the device understands two plates with calcium on the opposite poles. In order to substantially decrease inner resistance, rate the vendor adds silver to the plates.
Calcium-containing batteries are nominally considered unserviceable.
A car owner has no necessity for regular checking water levels. A good example is lead-acid accumulator Ca/Ca for Suzuki Dzire automobile.
As for disadvantages, these automotive batteries have only two of them – they are expensive and very sensitive to the onboard voltage rate. Accumulators suffer from current rate drops.
Batteries of this type are deemed to be the most promising as an additional power source. In these devices, the carriers of electric charge are represented by ions of lithium.
Advantages: high volumetric efficiency in comparison to average, swift charging, high output voltage rate and low self-discharge.
Drawbacks: sensitivity to environmental temperature changes, a small quantity of operational charge-discharge cycles – round 500, gradual capacity shortening with the course of time, sensitivity to deep discharge. Apart from that, Li-Ion accumulator cannot be used to power engine starter because of the limited output current rate.
The electrolyte in an accumulator can be represented not only by acid but also by alkaline. There is a great variety of alkaline accumulators but among passenger cars, nickel-cadmium (NiCd) and nickel-iron (NiFe) batteries are most widely spread.
Plates in such accumulators are protected with special envelopes made of very thin perforated plates of metal. Additionally, they add active compounds into these envelopes. These measures let largely increase batteries’ vibration resistance.
As for the benefits of alkaline automotive accumulators, they are good resistance to multiple recharges. Ability to be stored for a long term without capacity loss, flawless work under low temperatures and ability to store much energy per weight unit. As for disadvantages, we shall point out their high cost and large dimensions at low voltage.
7 Car Battery Maintenance Tips
1. Prevent your car from rapid temperature changes if possible
Manufacturers have developed special isolation for accumulators in modern car models. Several protection layers moderate temperature drops which are critical for batteries. In case you are the owner of an old car model, you can buy a special isolating kit and install it. If you dwell in a region with cold or hot weather, don’t leave your automobile outdoors for a long time and don’t hesitate to apply for regular battery maintenance on car service stations.
2. Keep a very eye on the charge level of the accumulator.
Alternatively, purchase an accumulator with an automatic managing of the charging process. In case the balance is fulfilled, the device automatically stops the charging process and prevents the accumulator from soon breakdown. Otherwise, all you will be able to do is to replace AC at a tech service facility.
3. Disconnect accumulator when unused for a long period
You have garaged your car and aren’t going to use it for at least several days? Then let the battery have a rest. Firstly, switch off all minor electricity consumers. These ones include compartment illumination, a car audio system, and other secondary systems. Then close the doors and disconnect the very accumulator.
4. Keep the battery out of reach of dust and wet
Purity and dryness can prolong the life of your accumulator. Do wipe and clean the case from dust and wet on a regular basis. Wet is conductive and may cause a short circuit. That’s why it’s better to remove condensed water or streaks with a cotton towel or a dry duster. In case some electrolyte has leaked out the battery, remove it very accurately. Remember that some accumulators contain electrolyte of a strong acid. That’s why you should remove it with the dissolution of baking soda and be careful not to damage the caps. Finally, when you have cleaned everything up, make sure that there is no corrosion on connection terminals. In case it is, do not clean it with water, better buy special cleaning liquid.
After you have performed battery maintenance procedure please check all contacts’ fastenings and tighten them if necessary.
5. Do not overuse starter at cold weather
Under low temperatures, frequent starter switching does nothing more than just wastes charge. Take this into account and keep up to the following rules:
- take care for continuous starter’s rotation would not last for more than 15 seconds;
- do long breaks between attempts to run up the engine;
- warm up the car before turning on the ignition – to do this, turn on full headlamps for 10-15 seconds;
- fully depress the clutch pedal – it is needed to disconnect the engine from the transmission.
These simple recommendation for car battery maintenance will ease engine start and save accumulator’s lifecycle.
6. Keep an eye on fastening reliability
As you have already understood from the text above, there are plates inside an accumulator. The higher their weight is, the better their performance is. However, under severe shaking active components may peel down and capacity can get worse. Thuswise, fasten all mountings really tightly. No extra vibrations should appear while driving.
7. Contribute some of your time to take care of accumulator
With the course of exploitation, salts can subside on battery’s plates when it is deeply discharged. It is produced as a result of a chemical reaction in an electrolyte. It is possible to eliminate the consequences of sulfate with the help of a good charger. It dissolves salt sediments with short periodic current circuits. Pay attention that this procedure should be done not when the accumulator is already breaking down but on a regular basis for the purposes of routine maintenance.