A Little Battery Maintenance Can Save Lot’s Of Stress…
Amongst the RAC’s yearly list of most common faults that cause breakdowns you’ll find problems with batteries, particularly during the cold and damp of winter. But it doesn’t need to be the problem it once was.
If your vehicle is becoming now slow and difficult to start, it’s probably to replace its current battery with new before the winter weather really kicks in. Automotive electrical systems can suffer during the inclement weather of the season and it’s essential that your battery is up to the job if you wish to avoid trouble later this winter.
New materials and technology provides modern batteries with far superior cold starting performance. With many batteries now featuring calcium silver, the latest types also offer longer service life, even with today’s cars consuming so much more power than their predecessors, thanks to the mass of high-tech systems found on board vehicles. In fact, the latest batteries can offer up to 20 per cent longer service life than conventional lead acid products as they utilise lead-calcium-silver alloy construction.
Even if there are no signs of deterioration in performance yet, why not have the battery checked over before the onset of winter, particularly if it’s more than four years old. You’ll find that many garages and battery stockists offer this service, sometimes free of charge.
Once you’ve replaced the battery there are several easily performed precautions that can be taken to avoid problems later.
Many modern vehicles have long service intervals with some reaching 10,000 or even 20,000 miles between services. Most motorists use their vehicles during all four seasons without ever thinking of inspecting what’s going on under the bonnet. We then expect our vehicles to start faultlessly, even in the worst weather that wind can provide.
To keep your vehicle’s battery in peak condition, terminal lead clamps should fit tightly and securely, and just keeping the battery clean and as dry as possible can help you avoid problems later. Moist or dirty surfaces can result in tiny but continuous current leakages which flow between the positive and negative terminals. Over time this can lead to a significant reduction in a battery’s cold starting capability.
So, keep the battery’s contact terminals clean, dry and carefully greased to protect them against any corrosion that can occur. While many vehicle batteries are protected by a fabric or plastic cover you’ll find that condensation can still manifest itself on top of the battery.
In addition, malfunctioning dashboard switches for low consumers of electric current, such as the glove compartment light or rear wash/wipe should be repaired as they can drain a battery, too. Then there’s the condition and correct tension of the V-belt connecting the engine to the alternator which should be checked to ensure that there is no slippage present.
In the case of older-type batteries that are fitted with vent plugs, the water level in each cell should be checked frequently, and if necessary, topped up with distilled water which you should fine available from filling stations or motoring accessory shops. Alternatively, why not let your local garage or dealer carry out this work for you?