Help…My Battery Just Failed Without Warning!
It happens from time to time. You crank your engine over, it starts just fine and you make it on in to work with no worries. You come out at the end of the day, and that previously-fine battery no longer has enough grunt to even operate the power locks. How does this happen?
Well, it doesn’t happen often, but it does happen now and then. Sometimes it’s a defect in the battery itself that causes it, and then other times there’s some chemistry involved.
Batteries usually consist of six cells, connected in series. Each cell contains a plate of lead and lead coated with lead dioxide, then bathed in sulfuric acid. When a battery discharges, the acid electrolyte reacts with the materials of the plates to change their surfaces to lead sulfate. When the battery recharges, the lead sulfate then reverts to lead dioxide again. This chemical reaction is at the heart of how batteries work, and it’s a design that has changed little for 100 years. Here are somethings to remember:
· Heat is a primary cause for battery failure and replacement, as it speeds up corrosion within the battery’s cells.
· Extreme cold can slow down the chemical reaction inside the battery’s cells, and motor oil that’s thickened due to cold weather can make it harder to turn the engine over. It’s estimated that, at 10 degrees F, a battery can only deliver about 50 percent of its cranking power.
· Short trips can cause acid stratification, where the electrolyte stays at the bottom of the cells, causing the upper half of the cell to be short on acid. It’s much like pouring sugar into a cup of coffee, then not stirring it. Short trips where the battery never completely charges can lead to stratification, especially if, say, you’re driving a short distance and putting a demand on the battery with the wipers, heater fan, radio, heated seats, etc.
Short trips are actually pretty hard on an engine as well. When the engine can never warm up to operating temperature, the water vapor that collects in the crankcase can’t have a chance to boil off and can end up mixing with oil and carbon contaminants to form sludgy deposits.
It’s also worth remembering that discharging a battery completely, to the point where it needs a jump-start and can’t even power the radio or headlights, is pretty harmful to the battery’s life expectancy.
So why do batteries just up and die one day? Sometimes we’ll never know. The good news is, though, you can up the chances of getting the entire warranty life out of your battery with the right maintenance:
· Make sure your charging system is up to speed
· Check the condition and tension of the serpentine belt periodically
· Don’t let corrosion build up on the battery clamps, cables or posts
· Don’t let the battery completely discharge.
· Don’t be afraid to buy a battery that’s a little stronger than what your vehicle really needs.
If you’re in need of a battery replacement, you’ve come to the right place with American Tire Company in Goodlettsville, TN! We’ve got a wide selection of batteries at various price points, for whatever you’re driving. Make an appointment with us today!