Tips for Extending Bike/Car Battery Life

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.

Tips for extending Car/Bike Battery Life
Tips for extending Car/Bike Battery Life

Image courtesy: pixabay.com

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.

Tips for extending Car/Bike Battery Life-Refill with distilled water to extend car battery life
Tips for extending Car/Bike Battery Life – Refill with distilled water to extend car battery life

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.

Extend your car battery life
Extend your car battery life

Image courtesy: pixabay.com

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!

Bike Engine Oil Leakage – Fix it Yourself

Bike Engine Oil Leaking? All You Need to Know

It’s easier to wipe away those oil stains on your bike’s engine and forget all about it. You may not even have given much thought about that ugly bike engine oil stain on your parking spot. Vehicles do leak a bit of oil. Is it that big a deal to worry about?

Well, here’s putting it in perspective for you. Oil leakage is equivalent to your engine bleeding its life out and hence should be a priority.

Bike Engine Oil Leak and Stain
Bike Engine Oil Leak and Stain

Lifeblood of the engine

The engine oil acts as the lubricant between the moving parts of the engine, so as to keep the components moving, without friction. The components inside the engine are subject to a lot of heat due to steady combustion and continuous movement. Hence, there is a need for an external agent to cool the engine down and lubricate it, reducing the wear and tear of the components, thereby enabling it to perform at its best.  And that external agent here is the engine oil.

Oil leak means one thing- oil inside the engine is falling below safe levels. The parts are being subject to excess stress and consequent wear and tear.  This not only impacts their efficient performance but reduces their life too. And always check and change bike engine oil before going  on a long drive .

Oil leak under the bike engine
Oil leak under the bike engine

Causes for bike engine oil leak?

Oil leaks could be due to a variety of reasons. Most common reasons are improper installation of the engine components and/or design failure of the engine itself. Failure of minor rubber components like seals, gaskets, o-rings or connection tubes can also cause engine oil leakage in your beloved motorbike.

What should I do?

Act fast and you could get the job done in less than a hundred rupees. Neglect it and it affects the engine and the vehicle as a whole. It might even result in engine seizure and burn a hole worth Rs.10,000 in your pocket.

So keep an eye out for those dreadful oil stains or traces of oil on the engine surface and arrest it before it costs you a sad lot of money.

Happy riding!

“With each replacement of parts, a vehicle slowly becomes Chinese.”

Tyre Maintenance Tips for Car and Bike

One important aspect of daily maintenance check that every car and bike owner faces has to do is related to the tyres. These structures that fulfill the dynamic responsibilities of an automobile also take the entire load of the vehicle and rider; so, it becomes quintessential to keep track of the health of the tyres now and then to ensure a safe ride and prolong life of tyres. The following tyre maintenance tips will help you achieve just that .

Basic things one needs to know about tyre maintenance:

Before we delve deep into the maintenance of the tyres, let’s learn a few jargons that the garage people use to make us feel out of the league.

  • Cold tyre pressure – this is the pressure of the tyre when the car is at a halt and it has exhausted all the heat that gets aggravated after driving on road.
  • Hot tyre pressure – this is the pressure when the tyre is being driven, or that when the vehicle has just come to a halt (say, near a fuel station or a traffic signal, etc.)
  • Tread – Tread is the passage in the tyre that makes actual contact with the road. There are various types of Tyre treads. While a directional tread has V-shaped pattern that provides a rough contact (for rough terrains and rocky slopes), the symmetrical tread has a straight seam that facilitates easy driving across smooth travails.
Tyre Maintenance Tips - Tyre Tread Types
Tyre Maintenance Tips for Car and Bike -Tyre Tread Types

What, why and how do tyres get affected?

Before we have had time to realize, the day mean temperature is hot enough to fry eggs on roads. The tyres, which experience the frictional effects due to their rolling contact with the road, are the components that face the brunt of this heat.

Tyres are designed for specific pressure ranges, which would be influenced by the external environmental factors – the most significant of them being the temperature. So any variation in the prevalent temperature may affect the tyres, negatively.

Major problems with tyres:

There are many different problems that affect tyres in a drastic way. Some of the day-to-day hardships are detailed as follows:

Deflation and Punctures

With the prevalent road conditions in the city and in most parts of the country, the tyres get wounded very easily. Puncture is one common difficulty that would be the devilish nightmare of office goers. Punctures may be caused due to the vehicle being static for a very long time, constant high temperature exposure, long drives through tough terrains, or other external factors like thorns or nails.

It is always a good practice to park the vehicle at a place free of too much garbage and wastage, because there are high chances of sharp items being spilled around, which would target the rubber.

Improper pressure

While the maximum pressure given in the manual indicates the endurance limit of the tyre, it is not a good practice to inflate it to the maximum level. The optimum pressure as specified must be taken care of and it should not go beyond or below a particular permitted tolerance range.

High cold pressures (over-inflation) in the tyres would result in their outer surface bulging out because of constant frictional contact with the road, and this would result in cracks near the treads. This could also create imbalance in the load bearing capacity of the vehicle, thereby making it unstable at full load drives.

Low cold pressures (under-inflation) would result in the outward protrusion of the surface, thereby creating chances of tear and burst of tyres. Low pressures also create the disadvantage of the ground clearance getting comparably lower which might create serious problems gradually.

Tyre Maintenance Tips - Correct Tyre Pressure
Tyre Maintenance Tips for Car and Bike – Correct Tyre Pressure

One easier way to prolong the life of tyres is to rotate them periodically. Rotation refers to the change of tyres from their original position (that is, change of tyres from front to back, and vice-versa). This would ensure that the tyres are exposed to various pressure ranges, thereby making them resistant to faults. Standard tyre rotation periods are between 3,000 and 5,000 kilometers for bikes, and 8,000 to 10,000 kilometers for cars.  Maintaining proper tyre pressures can help you increase mileage of your car or bike .

Moreover, in the case of cars, where the engines are located at the front part of the body, front pairs of tyres are usually made to withstand higher loads in comparison to that of the pair at the back. Hence, the periodical rotation would extend their life to a considerable extent.

Wobbling

This problem may occur due to blowouts or improper pressures across all tyres, and may cause fatal aftereffects to the vehicle as well as the driver. Wobbling may also be a result of misalignment in wheels. This could be felt during sharp curves especially and may affect the differentials of the vehicle.

Cracks and blisters

Cracks are the results of the causes discussed so far. No tyre can stay true to its ideal capabilities after the vehicle is being driven on road for so long. But the indication that the tyres need to be replaced can be examined and detected by using one’s fingers.

Try inserting a fingernail into the visible crack. If it does not penetrate, then the crack is not serious and there is absolutely no need of changing the tyres. If the nail can go into the crack but you cannot tear away a piece of tyre, it implies the tyre can be used for further driving at least for 500 to 800 kilometers more. But if the fingernail goes inside the crack and you could remove a piece of tyre that are as wide as two fingers (note that this is the width of two fingers and not the length), that is a clear indicator the tyres need to be replaced immediately.

Permanent wear and tear

This is the final stage of the tyre and it has reached a stage where it cannot tolerate more stresses applied to it. Hence, it becomes mandatory to change the tyres at or beyond this stage.

The coin test may be an easy way to see the tread wear of the tyre (in case of a car only). Normally, the tread should not be shallower than 1/16th of an inch or around 1.6 mm. The scales could be used to check this out, but for easier diagnostics, it is recommended that you use a 1 rupee coin to test it. If the Rupiah text in Hindi is visible (in case of older types of coins), then it is a warning signal that the tyre needs to be replaced or repaired.

Tyre Maintenance Tips -Tyre Change Test
Tyre Maintenance Tips for Car and Bike – Tyre Change Test

So while looking around the building, take care of the basement also. Once the foundation is stronger, the entire construction gets a boost. The same applies to the dynamic devils – your cars and bikes. Don’t tire the tyres until the tyres tear apart. Happy riding! May the frictional force be with you!

Trends in Indian Automobile Industry

The excitement was palpable; I was all smiles when my dad gave me the key to my new bike. It felt like I was given the key to an all new life full of fun, freedom and independence. It’s a memory I cherish even today and I’m sure 23 Million other Indians would’ve shared similar sentiments this year. In India, a new bike is sold every 2 seconds; a new car every 12 seconds.

Growing at a rate of 10.5% YOY in the last decade, the Indian Automobile industry is one of the largest in the world. While there is a lot of talk about the Automobile industry, the Automobile Service industry is largely kept in obscurity. But of late, there are some fundamental changes happening in the Automobile Service space. Though a lot of these changes can be attributed to the rapid growth of internet penetration and smartphone usage in recent years, it’s also a sign of new entrants gearing up to disrupt this industry by leveraging technology.

Bike Service and Car Service Mobile App
Bike Service and Car Service Mobile App

One of the early trends that’s happening now is making the whole automobile service experience seamless and hassle-free – right from discovering a trusted and credible service center to getting the vehicle delivered back after service completion. A vehicle owner doesn’t need to check the service booklet and call up the service center to book a service anymore; he/she can do that at a single tap on his/her mobile screen. Vehicle owners can discover service providers in the vicinity, compare them based on price and book the service directly. After booking the service, they can view and track the status of the service booking real time, get the cost estimate for the service, chat with the service expert at the service center, know the estimated date and time of delivery and can also pay via the mobile phone after service fulfillment. Even some of the service needs which require immediate assistance like breakdown or tyre punctures are being handled by identifying the vehicle owner’s GPS coordinates. By knowing the exact location, it’s possible to send out a trained mechanic available close by to assist immediately. Imagine the time and effort that’s saved.

The biggest challenge in this industry, as perceived by vehicle owners, is information asymmetry. More often than not, vehicle owners feel that they’ve been meted out a raw deal by the service provider and they feel helpless. This challenge is being addressed at multiple levels. Having user generated reviews and ratings for each service center under different parameters is one solution. Getting accurate quotes for a specific repair job from many service centers even before commencing service and choosing the best one is another. Equipping users by providing interactive and engaging content about their vehicles and their needs is one another solution.

On the other hand, service centers are also reinventing themselves to cater to the needs of the internet-savvy customers. While some can afford to spend time and money on building an online presence and ramping up technology, that’s not the case with all service centers. Here’s where a common level-playing technology platform that caters to everyone in the ecosystem to market their offerings, showcase their quality and engage their customers will play a pivotal role.

Exciting times for the Auto Service industry are here again and for people who are involved in this hands-on, I’m sure the excitement is palpable.

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Sundar Natesan, Co-Founder, GoBumpr!

Currently available in Chennai, GoBumpr! is the one stop mobile app for all Car Service and Bike Service needs – from booking a scheduled service to getting on-the-road breakdown & tyre puncture assistance 24×7!

Automobile Service & Vehicle Maintenance Blog