Car battery problems are high on the list of breakdown call outs. But thanks to new technology, such as silver calcium, modern batteries provide much better cold starting performance and longer service life than ever before. All this despite the fact that there are far greater amounts of electronic and current consuming equipment found in today's cars.
If your car is already displaying worrying symptoms such as sluggish cold starting in the morning then the only solution may be to get your battery replaced, preferably with a silver calcium - lead acid battery, which give up to 20 per cent longer service life than conventional lead acid products. Under normal circumstances, an automotive battery lasts up to three years which means around 30% of cars need a new battery each year - a worrying statistic considering that without a working battery a driver is stranded.
"Batteries produced in South Africa are of good quality but they are often poorly maintained. A common error is to overfill or under fill a battery with distilled water, which reduces the battery's lifespan and failure inevitably occurs at the most inopportune moment," said William De Lillie, manager of AA battery and patrol fleet.
Battery failure is a common problem but with correct battery maintenance, you can ensure longer battery life. The AA offers the following tips:
- Maintain battery fluid to the correct level
- Have the charging system checked regularly
- Keep the battery clean of dirt and grease
- Defective dashboard switches for things such as the glove compartment light or rear wiper should be rectified before they drain the battery
- The condition and correct tension of the V-belt connecting the engine to the alternator should be checked to prevent any slippage
- Do not overcharge your battery
- Use a variable set rate between 3-4 amps for batteries up to 90 amps/hr and 5-7 amps for those above
- Charge your battery for 12 hours only
- You should never have to clean your battery unless you have a problem with your charging rate. In this case, mix one to two teaspoons of baking soda with two cups of water to clean any build-up from the terminals
- If your battery is not sealed, have its water checked every three to six months (especially in summer) by an approved battery supplier.