There are two types of auto batteries, flooded lead-acid and AGM. Flooded lead-acid batteries are considered standard because most vehicles come with them. Choose one that meets your vehicle’s needs when picking a replacement battery. For those vehicles not regularly driven, a maintenance charger is an excellent choice to ensure long battery life and reliable starting. Along with regular mechanical preventative maintenance, you should have your car’s battery tested.
All internal combustion vehicles are equipped with a battery. The battery is essential to get the engine running, but it also powers your vehicle’s electric appliances when the car isn’t running. The computer chips must stay powered, the radio must remember your stations, the alarm needs to work, and the seat should remember your settings; there are too many functions to list.
For this reason, modern cars have larger capacity batteries than previously. Yet few drivers understand the details of these critical components or how to care for them properly. Batteries are essential for several reasons. The battery supplies current to make the starter motor turn your engine over and gives the ignition system the appropriate voltage to start your car. The principles of how batteries work and their care and feeding have not changed. You will save money and be rewarded with a more reliable vehicle if you know these procedures. Most batteries look similar, a plastic case with positive and negative terminals.
Flooded lead acid is the most common battery. These have plates suspended in the plastic case surrounded with acid and distilled water. A more expensive and more capable alternative is the absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery.
The AGM battery has fiberglass mats separating the positive and negative plates. These mats absorb the acid and water blend to prevent spilling. AGM batteries can be positioned with the terminals facing any direction, up, down, or sideways since the fiberglass mats contain the acid. A standard lead-acid battery must be mounted upright so the acid-water mix won’t leak out.
Lead-acid batteries emit gas during charge/discharge cycles, which can cause explosions. The downside of the AGM battery is the higher cost. A trickle charger is a good choice for battery maintenance for a vehicle that is not used frequently, such as a boat or a Sunday car.
These chargers increase the voltage slowly for a gradually rising charge rate. Whereas a regular charger might damage a dead battery, a trickle charger could bring it back to life. A trickle charger works well for cars in storage, but there is no automatic cutoff, which means if you leave it on for long periods, this type of charger could damage your battery. Battery engineers built the maintenance charger to solve the problem of overcharging. Maintenance chargers are smart trickle chargers that sense voltage.
A smart trickle charger stops charging when the battery is 100% charged. When the battery voltage drops below a specific setting, it resumes charging. It prevents the two things you don’t want. Overcharging could occur with a dumb trickle charger, and the battery may go flat if left without a charger. For any vehicle, car, motorcycle, or boat not frequently used, a maintenance charger, AKA “smart trickle charger,” has our endorsement. Reference the manufacturer’s website for the maintenance charger suitable for your application.
There are several amperages of these devices based on the capacity of your battery. To fully charge a discharged battery as speedily as possible, you want the third type of charger, a standard battery charger. These chargers are your best bet to get on the road the fastest. However, it is not suitable for regular usage. If left on too long and knowing how long to leave it on is unknowable, it could lead to an overcharged and damaged battery. Temperatures of around 75 degrees Fahrenheit will lead to longer battery life.
If in a colder climate than that, you risk decreasing the battery’s service life.
Since modern vehicles need constant voltage to keep the computers happy, removing the battery between usages is not a good solution for a car in cold climates. Batteries are consumable wear items, like tires. Most drivers get between 3-5 years between battery replacements.
Vehicles with large electrical loads, such as powering trailer lights and constant A/C fan usage, will wear out their batteries sooner. Manufacturers do all they can to reduce weight to optimize fuel mileage.
Your car may have a marginal battery for your needs and will wear out sooner than you would like. We frequently overlook our batteries until they leave us stranded. You can optimize your battery service life by keeping the electrolyte levels at the proper level.
We can quickly check your battery with our state-of-the-art battery load tester to see if it meets specifications while you are in for routine maintenance. We will top up your electrolyte level too.