About five million batteries per year are sold in the aftermarket in this country. Now that is a huge market but one that increasingly has a number of bear traps waiting for the unwary to fall in. As little as fifteen years ago the average car consumed 1000 watts of power; some high spec models now require more than three times that amount, and hand in hand with alternator technology batteries have had to keep up. Today a third of the cost of a modern vehicle is swallowed up in electronics and electrical components, and batteries are now a sophisticated component in an integrated electrical system. This means the days of just buying something that fits in the hole are gone. Replacement batteries must match the original spec or you can be in trouble.
The traditional Lead/Acid battery is susceptible to heat damage, and with modern cars routinely having under bonnet temperatures in excess 75 degrees Centigrade. The problem of electrolyte evaporation plus the need for more power especially in the case of modern diesels meant that the vehicle manufacturers needed something that was no bigger but more powerful. It is for these reasons that most vehicles manufactured after 1998 use Calcium/Calcium batteries.
The CA/CA battery scores on two fronts. Firstly it is fully sealed and therefore evaporation is not an issue, and secondly it is capable of being charged at a higher voltage (Closer to 15volts than 13.5 for lead/acid)
Battery prices have risen considerably over the last year, mainly because of increased costs of manufacturing. These higher prices mean that it is very important that you buy the correct one. Of course Batteries are now far better than in days gone by thanks, in part, to improved technology and materials, but also because much more emphasis is placed on specifying the correct battery for the application.
Battery life expectancy averages out at about five years, but this does depend on the operating environment and, just as importantly, the use it is put to. A Life in the city with predominantly short stop/start journeys will be much shorter than that of itís country cousins. It is a myth that cold temperatures kill batteries. low temperatures reduce the operating efficiency and will highlight a problem but it is heat that is the real villain.
It cannot be stressed enough how important is now to select the correct battery modern (Post 1998) vehicles tend to charge at a higher rate, this would seriously shorten the life expectancy of a lead/acid battery. (Conversly this is not the case when fitting a CA/CA battery on to an old car)
If you're having to charge a later type battery, it is essential that you use the latest type of charger. Old models wonít recover modern batteries. The new generation of smart chargers have been developed specifically to charge and monitor CA/CA batteries, they are considerably more expensive to purchase but there really is no alternative especially when attempting to breath life back into one that has suffered a deep discharge. This means that that trickle charger you inherited from your grand father is probably obsolete.
Just disconnecting the battery can cause problems because of lost radio codes etc
There is no sign that the pace of change is slowing down indeed with the advent of Advanced Glass Mat Batteries and model specific units with barcode reader in the battery tray the need for accuracy will only increase, whilst the penalties for mistakes grow ever larger
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