BATTERIES

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WEAK CHARGING SYSTEM? 

HERE ARE A FEW THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOUR BATTERY.

The most overlooked upgrade to your vehicle is the battery. Having a properly functioning battery under the hood will save you from having to get jump started in the middle of the night. Additionally, a properly maintained battery means your alternator doesn't have to work so hard, and you get the best performance from your charging system. This information is here to help you understand your battery and tips on maintenance.

 

AMPERAGE RATINGS

  • Cranking Amps (CA) - the rating of cranking amperage measured at 32 degrees F. Cold 
  • Cranking Amps (CCA) - the amperage rating the battery can provide at 0-degrees F for 30 seconds without dropping below 7.2 volts. This is the most important measure of a battery, and is the typical rating used for selecting the appropriate battery for a vehicle. 
  • Reserve Capacity (RC) - measured in minutes, this is how long the battery will provide 25 amps until the battery voltage drops to 10.5 volts. This is used on both starting and deep cycle batteries. 
  • Amp Hour (AH) - typically used for deep-cycle batteries, this illustrates the amperage capacity. A battery with 150 amp hours rating would provide 15 amps for 10 hours, 10 amps for 15 hours or 150 amps for 1 hour.

 

BATTERY TYPES

While most batteries are of the same age-old lead acid (LA) design, there are many ways to put them together. The main types are flooded, gel and AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat). All lead acid batteries use the same overall concept - lead plates (one is lead, the other is lead oxide) are submerged in an electrolyte solution of sulfuric acid. Each of these plate groups is called a cell; a group of individual cells is called a "battery". As the battery discharges, the lead electrodes become lead sulfate, and the electrolyte dissolves into water. This why batteries freeze during the winter, which can cause the lead plates to touch (short-circuit), effectively destroying the battery. While charging a lead acid battery, through electrolysis, the battery generates oxygen and hydrogen gas, which can be explosive, which is why batteries are typically mounted under the hood, where they dissipate and do not become condensed. When installing a battery in the trunk, a firewall must be installed to protect the passengers; the battery box must also be vented to the exterior of the vehicle.


  

BATTERY MAINTENANCE

Flooded batteries require more maintenance, but all batteries have needs. Lead acid batteries must be charged constantly to maintain that charge. Leaving a LA battery on the shelf for 6 months will degrade the battery, especially if it is in cold weather. You must protect your batteries from freezing. In severe cold weather a battery can freeze, which will short out the plates and the battery will no longer charge. When a battery freezes, the sides of the box will bulge. 

Charging - When storing a battery long term, you should consider a trickle or maintenance charger. These low-amp chargers keep the battery from discharging over time without boiling the electrolyte, which can ruin the battery. There is another side to that coin though. A dead flooded (this does not work for gel or AGM types) battery that won't hold a charge can sometimes be "jump-started" by boiling the electrolyte with a heavy high-amperage charge. This is because over time and charge/discharge cycles, the electrolyte crystallizes (Sulfation) on the plates. Boiling the electrolyte can re-absorb those crystals, making the battery useful again. This does not work for batteries that have shorted cells. The process for reviving AGM batteries is a little more complex, involving multiple batteries chained together. AGM batteries need a better quality charger than a standard flooded battery, Optima Batteries offers an AGM-specific charger that doubles as a conditioner for long-term storage. Otherwise, a good, constant potential, voltage-regulated charger with the following rates- Charge / Absorption / Equalize between 13.8 - 14.6 volts @ 77°F (25°C), Float / Standby between 13.4 - 13.6 volts @ 77°F (25°C). 

Corrosion - Corrosion is a problem with all batteries, moisture, metal and electricity cause electrolysis, the same process at work inside the battery, but in an uncontrolled manner. That fuzzy stuff on your battery terminals is bad. It is the by-product of electrolysis, which is like rust for lead. Preventing it is fairly simple and there are some methods that work better than others. You can buy the felt pads and anti-corrosion spray work, but not for very long. The key here is keeping moisture out while promoting a solid connection to the cables. A little Vaseline on the terminals goes a long way to protect against corrosion. Another solution is liquid electrical tape, which creates an airtight seal, but it has to be cut off before removing the battery cable. 

Water Level - Flooded batteries require water to function, over time, the water level decreases. While many flooded batteries are labeled "maintenance free", not all are. You should periodically check the water level in your battery. If the water is below the top of the water holes, add some distilled water. You have to be careful, the water in the battery is highly-corrosive. AGM and Gel batteries do not require water maintenance. 

Cables and Terminals - The battery can only do its job when the connections are good. Corroded cables and terminals, loose fitting terminals, etc limit the alternator's ability to charge the battery and provide juice to the car. All terminals must fit tight, if you can wiggle it by hand, it's not tight enough. You have to be careful with side-post terminals, as you can strip the threads and actually break into the case, causing electrolyte to leak out. 


Regardless of the battery you choose, there will be some decision to be made. A daily-driven economy vehicle doesn't need a high-performance lithium-ion battery, while a show car needs a battery that can sustain long periods of use without charging. Let Hill Nissan help you find the right battery for your needs.



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Directions Winter Haven, FL 33884

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