Batteries are one of the most important aspects of cars. Without the battery, your car would not be able to run. How much do we know about this important element? What happens when it dies? Is there a way to make it last longer? Are we supposed to do regular maintenance on it? If your car won’t start, is it actually the battery or is it something else? Spieler’s Inc has all the answers to these questions and more.
Know Your Battery
Commercial use of lead acid batteries has been around for over 100 years old. If you understand the basics, you will have fewer battery problems and a longer lasting battery. Lead-acid batteries are made up of plates, lead and lead oxide, with a 35 percent sulfuric acid and 65 percent water solution. This solution is called electrolyte, which causes a chemical reaction that produces electrons. When testing a battery with a hydrometer, you are actually measuring the amount of sulfuric acid in the electrolyte. When your reading is low, it means that your battery is lacking the chemistry that makes electrons. The sulfur will rest on the battery plates; recharging the battery will allow the sulfur to return to the electrolytes.
Average battery life has decreased significantly and energy requirements have increased. The life of your battery depends on usage. They can last from 6 months to 2 years, yet very few car batteries last the full 2 years. Usually, the main issue related to battery failure is sulfation build-up. This occurs when the sulfur molecules in the battery acid begin to coat the lead plates. The plates become so coated that the battery dies. There are many reasons that this build-up can occur such as the battery sitting too long between charges, battery stored without some type of energy input, extreme heat or cold weather, low electrolyte level and incorrect charging levels and settings.
The battery should be cleaned using a wire brush and a solution of one tablespoon baking soda and a cup of water. To prevent corrosion of the cables on top post batteries, use a small amount of silicone sealer at the base of the post and place a felt battery washer over it. Coat the washer with either high-temperature grease or petroleum jelly, and then place the cable on the post and tighten. Coat the exposed cable end with grease.
It is important to make sure your battery is keeping a full charge. If the battery is not charging fully, it will sulfate, which affects the performance and longevity. The alternator should keep the battery charged. If your car is sitting for long periods of time, it is a good idea to keep a charger hooked up to the battery. Also, seasonal battery run items, such as ATVs, boats and motorcycles, should be hooked up to chargers before being stored to ensure the battery stays charged.
Battery, Alternator or Starter
When your car won’t start you will want to check the battery, alternator and starter to determine the issue. These parts all work closely together, so it can be hard to determine which one has failed.
Signs of a Dead Battery
- Low whining sound when attempting to start the car.
- Jump starting the car works, but the car will not start again after turning it off.
- The smell of burning rubber or hot wires can come from the alternator overheating.
- Headlights and dash lights may flicker or get extra dim (gauges may also behave strangely).
- Jump starting works, but the engine dies right afterward.
Signs of a Failed Starter
- Clicking sounds when you turn the key.
- Car won’t start, but dash lights still turn on.
- Jump starting doesn’t work.
Car Maintenance Made Easy with Spieler’s Inc.
When your car won’t start, the worst case scenarios will all run through your mind. Before you panic, check the battery, alternator and starter. If you regularly charge and perform maintenance on your battery, you could prevent the worst case scenario issues. If you have any problems with your car, call the Spieler’s service team at 573-796-3129.
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