Everyone who owns a car has experienced a no-start condition irrespective of the battery status. When your car denies your command, it can be quite depressing. Now you must be wondering why on the face of the Earth won’t your car start when you just got your batteries checked last week, and they were in top-notch condition.
Well, as a car owner you must know the science behind starting your car. Before you hear the sound of the turned-on engine, there are certain connections which have to be made in the ignition circuit. If any component of the ignition circuit goes malfunctioning, then you would face troubles starting your car engine and be late for work again.
Let’s see what could be the possible causes for your car to fail on you.
Faulty ignition switch:
Imagine your ignition circuit with six components arranged linearly. The first component being the battery and the last one being the starter motor. Now the ignition switch forms the second component of this linear arrangement. It indicates the battery to start the engine. If your ignition switch has gone malfunctioning, then this signal will fail to take place thus preventing your car from starting.
Problem with the starter:
Still have the picture of the ignition circuit in your head? Ok, so the last component of the circuit was a starter motor. If your motor is flawed, you can expect a defective car. The starter basically takes the electric current from the battery to start the engine. Well if it can’t do that, it is no good to you. Consider replacing your starter or check if the connection isn’t too flimsy.
No supply of fuel:
Of course, everything requires energy to function. If your car isn’t getting its nutrients, then it is not going to run to its full potential. For the engine to start the fuel must be supplied smoothly into the ignition chamber. If you fail to do proper maintenance of your fuel pump filter, and other components which allow the fuel to be transmitted to the engine effortlessly then, your car might fail to start.
The spark is gone!
Relationships are as good as dead when there is no spark. It’s the same with cars. For your engine to start a spark has to be ignited via the spark plug. If the spark plug has gone dysfunctional due to over-heating, dirt, or any other reason, then your car will not start.
Did you check the gas bar?
Well well, did you check if your car has any fuel at all before deciding to take your girlfriend on a date?
Is your anti-theft system on?
Sometimes when your anti-theft system is on you will be unable to turn the key after inserting it in the keyhole. You can try fidgeting the steering wheel and simultaneously turn the key.
Wires form an integral part of any electrical circuit. And for a circuit to come alive all the wires must be in working condition. Considering checking your ground wire, connecting cables, and other wires if your car doesn’t start.
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!
‘Feeling the heat’ has become quite a literal phrase nowadays with temperatures skyrocketing to 40 degree Celsius effortlessly. As we take care of our physical well-being by switching according to the climatic conditions, maintenance of one of the most important mechanical contraptions – the cars and bikes – becomes a necessity rather than a luxury.
Whenever the term ‘heat’ is uttered in mechanical jargon, ‘friction’ automatically comes into play. Got the drift? Yeah, this exactly is about the TYRES. There are simple yet effective ways to prevent tyres from blowing out easily. As we see in even the simple vehicles like bicycles, the tyres tend to protrude a bit on the outwards when the pressure becomes less. This will induce uneven load distribution in the tyres causing wobbling; continuous operation of the cars and bikes in this condition would result in a tyre tear. High pressures would mean improper response to the control inputs (braking, acceleration, etc.). Don’t tire the tyres until the tyres tear themselves.
Like we recharge ourselves with jars of juices and tumblers of water, it is important to maintain the liquid levels of the vehicles too. Guess what? LUBRICATION. Since all the oils that are used in the systems tend to be volatile, it is significant to replace them by keeping track every now and then, particularly during high temperatures. Standard vehicle techniques say that it is better to replace oils after every 5,000 kilometers or 3 months (whichever comes first), and the oil filters after every 12,000 kilometers for cars, and the engine oil be changed after 3,000 kilometers for their two wheeler counterparts.
BATTERY is one significant part that always aids in the proper functioning of numerous accessories. Similar to the checking of the liquid levels in the battery of our UPS systems in houses, it becomes mandatory to follow the same in case of car batteries also. Yo6u don’t want your wiper or headlights to just not work when you need them badly. Make sure you take good care of your battery.
With the amount of pollution we are facing particularly in a densely-populated country like India, it becomes noteworthy to stress a bit on cleanliness. Oh man, the AIR FILTER! This part may get clogged particularly after long drives in highways due to the amount of dry dust that fills in the cavity of it. Make it a point to dust them out, or else you might feel the heat of it, quite literally!
One may get bored and stressed at the never-ending signals, particularly in the city. Throttling of your vehicle in the stationary condition would result in overheating of the engine. More than being vroomed, let the automobile be groomed.
Having discussed about the driven equipment, there are also certain prerequisites for the driver. HELMETS have become mandatory for a good reason, yet there are certain precautions to be followed while wearing one. Do ensure that the head gear has adequate free space between the nostrils, mouth cavity and forehead. Suffocation problems may arise due to congested helmets. Most importantly, it is primary to have an absorbent material as a covering inside the top most layer of the inner surface; this would ensure that the sweat and liquids get absorbed well, leaving you fresh (at least in the appearance perspective, though it needn’t be mentioned that drivers will be gasping after a long drive in this summer :P).
There are also other components like radiator, air conditioner and others that require diligent care and trustworthy maintenance. More than anything, remember that ‘Every action has an equal reaction’. One general piece of mind would be to opt for short travails during noons and to make use of the span between 6 PM and 9:30 PM for huge passages. As the summer gets grimmer, enjoy your rides by taking sides as per the environment. Beat the heat and drive safe!