Fleets have been in demand during lockdown, with households relying on them for deliveries. VARTA explains how this has affected fleet batteries.
During the recent lockdown period, nearly all households have relied on purchasing online and getting items delivered to their front doors. This isn’t only electronic goods and items for the home, as even doing the weekly food shop online has become the norm for many.
It has been reported that this has put a strain on many delivery companies, with extended service times being advised due to demand outstripping capacity. This has impacted many fleets, as additional vehicles have been put into action and additional routes are being used; but often at the cost of vehicle maintenance schedules being adhered to.
In addition, some fleet maintenance staff have been either furloughed or working limited schedules to avoid too many being in the workshop all at once, in order to adhere to the social distancing guidelines that the Government put in place.
What this means is, many delivery vehicles have not had the care and maintenance they would usually do, and jobs like carrying out regular battery maintenance and testing have been skipped.
VARTA recommends that, as businesses return to work and get back on track, battery maintenance should be routinely carried out on their fleets; particularly on those that might not have been serviced for some time. For a full list of what should be undertaken, to ensure the best performance from your batteries, the following procedures are suggested:
- Test batteries and check voltage at least every four weeks
- Keep record of battery maintenance history to ensure maintenance intervals are not missed
- Check batteries individually and recharge immediately if the voltage is at or below 12.4V
- Both batteries should be at the same voltage. If not, balance charge with a smart charger
- The charger should have a capacity of at least 10% of each battery’s capacity, e.g. a 200Ah battery requires at least a 20A charger
Replace as a pair
- If your battery tester recommends exchanging one of the two batteries fitted, both should be replaced as a set
- To ensure the longest potential lifetime of batteries in pairs, it is recommended to fit only batteries from the same production batch and submit them to frequent checks
- A degree of ‘unbalancing’ of a pair of batteries is inevitable during normal usage. This minor degree of unbalancing can cause gradual deep discharging. Batteries, which are fitted as a pair, are typically unlikely to fail at the same time.
- If testing a battery in-vehicle, make sure all vehicle loads (lights, etc.) are switched off and the key is removed
- Always visually check the battery case and do not test a battery if there are any signs of damage or incorrect polarity
- A battery tester with a printer, leads in good condition (no repairs) and capable of testing conventional SLI, EFB & AGM is recommended
- Connect the tester clamps to the battery: red to positive (+) and black to negative (–)
- Rock each clamp back and forth to ensure a good connection
- Follow the steps the tester proposes: add the Ah/CCA ratings displayed on the batteries and make sure that you always test Varta batteries against EN norm.
- Follow the recommendations made by the tester in order to ensure that batteries are being maintained appropriately
Faulty electrical components
- Always run a full vehicle system check alongside battery checks
- Check for consumers draining the battery with the key off
- Know how to test for parasitic drain on an electrical system
- Know how to test for excessive cranking amps
- Know how to test alternator output
- Understand volt drop on electrical circuits
- Only three cranking attempts should be carried out. The cranking attempts should follow a pattern of three seconds of cranking and a minimum pause of two seconds
- Extremely high currents can be drawn by faulty components such as starter motors, which can cause internal issues not visible to the naked eye
- Excessive and repeated cranking attempts should be avoided
- Never jump start batteries if electrical components on the vehicle are known or believed to be faulty