TIPS FOR EXTENDING BIKE & CAR BATTERY LIFE
Automobiles – both bikes and cars – can no longer be categorized exclusively into the sphere of mechanical engineering, with the increasing emphasis on electronic components. From the spark plug to sensors, and gear shift to cruise control, contemporary vehicles have become an ensemble of various other fields that come to the limelight based on their functionality, other than the traditional ones – the most important of them being the electronic ones.
Batteries are one of the most, or rather the most important components that form the nucleus of the electrical and electrical side of the vehicle. Be it horns or wipers or air conditioners, the conglomerate of cathode, anode and electrolyte are the saviours coming to the rescue.
The prescribed battery life for any automobile ranges from 4 to 5 years, but not every battery lasts till the “calendar life”. Before we delve deep into the battery life extension, let us give a glimpse into the basic aspects of a battery.
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Sneak peek into battery ratings:
Batteries used in on-road automobiles are usually of 12 V capacity, but the current rating or amperage can vary depending upon the size and capacity of the vehicle. The overall charge and discharge rates of the battery are described by the term ampere-hour (A.h). Some of the ratings are 26 A.h, 40 A.h, 90 A.h, etc.
For example, the indicator lights of a Tata Indica takes up to 2 A of current. Considering 40 A.h battery for this scenario, this means that 40/2 = 20 hours. Hence, the battery would last for 20 hours from the full charge condition before draining, provided indicator is the only electronic component being operated. This is arrived at by taking into account another bullet point that it is not being continuously charged by a medium.
How do the car batteries charge themselves during the operation of a vehicle?
A: What if the battery drains while the vehicle is being driven?
B: It wouldn’t.
A: You kidding? How come?
Here comes the alternator. Alternator is a device which runs throughout the operation of a vehicle, charging the batteries and enabling them to act as the source for fulfilling the functions of the accessories. Alternator is coupled with the battery in series to provide a constant current charging to it.
Some more information about batteries:
Batteries are of different types like lithium ion batteries, nickel cadmium batteries, etc. but the lead acid accumulators are the most commonly used type in automobiles, because they are cheap and provide long life. With the advent of electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), the lithium polymer batteries are coming to the fore now, but still the dominance of lead acid accumulators cannot be shaken.
Tips and tricks:
The various issues with batteries that can be solved with proper maintenance are as follows:
Corrosion in the terminals is one of the simplest yet fatal problems that tend to bog the battery’s performance down. Corrosion happens due to the continuous usage of battery for long time, and the corroded particles may be found forming patches near the terminals.
This problem can be overcome by cleaning the terminals with a mixture of three spoons of baking soda and one spoon of warm water, and then wiping away the residues with a piece of clean cloth free of any dust particles.
If the issue is not properly addressed, the corrosion may form a separate layer and would prevent the conduction of current from and to the battery thereby disabling the function of the automobile.
Mounting the battery with appropriate supports is always essential. Mounting will mostly be in the form of clamps that hold the battery in place. This would prevent the dynamic vibration of battery; vibration would cause electrical disasters like short circuits, fluctuations, sparks and would damage the components under the hood (bonnet).
Maintaining the water level of the battery could be commonly seen in the households with UPS installed. There are several knobs that usually show the increase or decrease of water levels in the battery. For example, if there are four such knobs and at least two of them do not contain water in the lids, it is time to quench the thirst of the battery, only with DISTILLED water. This is available in all petrol pumps nowadays.
Insulating the battery with a proper covering layer would increase its longevity significantly; insulators are surfaces with no or negligible electrical conductivity. Facilitation of these surfaces would mean that even if there are some wires dangling out, making contact with the battery, there are absolutely no or very less chances of short circuiting. Dielectric grease is popularly used for insulation purposes.
Isolate the battery and disconnecting the battery terminals from the contact positions, during a certainty that you would not drive the vehicle for a long time, say a week. The batteries would be draining minimal quantities of the stored energy even when the vehicle is switched off because there are components like the clock, which keep running. So it is always advisable to keep the batteries disconnected during long absence of driving.
Make sure all the electronic accessories like the air conditioner, wiper, head lights, indicators, etc. are switched off before you start the vehicle from halt. This would prevent the battery from getting drained immediately and is also a significant indicator of its longevity.
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Make long trips as much as possible, because batteries require some time to get charged. Short trips would mean that the batteries are charged for only limited time, which implies that they are not fully charged. The problem is that charging and discharging, is alternated at a rapid rate, would repeatedly modify the temperatures of the chemicals in the battery, thereby making them susceptible to failure.
Batteries are the arteries of automobiles. Charge them and treat them well, so that they don’t demand much charge from your pocket every now and then. Safe journey!