Tony Zeal from CTEK explains why effective battery management during servicing in warmer months is essential.
The performance and lifespan of lead- acid batteries is seriously inhibited when exposed to temperature extremes. Warmer temperatures pose a completely different set of challenges to a commercial vehicle. So, it’s easy to forget the battery during the warmer summer months because it doesn’t have to work as hard to get the vehicle started.
But did you know that the heat and the hot summer weather is the root of many winter battery problems? The battery can get damaged by high temperatures in summer, heat generated under the bonnet, or, in the case of trucks, because the battery is too close to the exhaust. During the summer, however, the warmth in the surrounding air can help the battery function well, so any reduction in condition isn’t picked up. It’s not until the cold weather strikes that you realize you have a problem.
Don’t forget there are still high power demands from the vehicle during the summer. Parasitic loads such as tracking devices and alarms, along with air conditioning and electric windows, mean that the battery is still being put through its paces. So, it’s really important that you regularly check the state of the battery all year round.
In the UK, around one in four commercial vehicles arriving in the workshop have a battery related problem – whatever the time of year. Battery maintenance is just as essential during the warmer months, but you need to consider a slightly different set of challenges.
Modern ‘maintenance-free’ batteries can easily dry out and/or the plates can become damaged. This is a common problem with batteries that are left attached to an old technology trickle-type charger or that are connected to a charger that is too powerful for the battery.
Delivering an uncontrolled charge risks fluid loss through overheating or ‘boiling’, the battery will become unusable due to dried-out cells. If ambient temperature goes above 25 ̊C, batteries should be charged at a lower voltage to avoid this.
This can still happen in the summer! It occurs when the battery is left undercharged, something that many only address during the winter. Don’t leave the battery purely in the hands of the alternator that will likely charge the battery to 80% capacity. Factor in alarms or trackers and, even during regular summer use, there is a risk that the battery could become discharged.
Simply by charging and conditioning batteries during a regular service, you can ensure that your fleet of vehicles is protected against flat batteries and other battery-related breakdowns. CTEK has a fast, safe, and effective solution that will enable workshops to charge batteries without the removing of the battery from the vehicle or interfering with vehicle servicing procedures.
CTEK chargers are powerful, fully automatic switched mode battery chargers designed to offer outstanding levels of reliability, safety, and efficiency. They are fully automatic with temperature sensors, easy to use, and require no specialist knowledge or monitoring – simply connect, forget, and carry on with a normal service without worrying about the risk of overcharging and drying out.
Regularly charging vehicle batteries, even during the summer months, will maximise battery performance, extend battery life, and, most importantly, ensure that vehicles don’t fall victim to battery failure when the colder weather strikes.