We have seen a lot of changes with the evolution of cars throughout the years, yet there are also still elements that remain very much the same, like the importance of the car battery. Next to the alternator, the battery is the most important component that gets your car started and keeps you running by stabilizing the electric current in your engine. The battery also keeps all your other electronic gadgets running, even when the car isn’t.
The battery and alternator work together best when the battery can maintain a good charge under normal operating procedures. As the reserve energy from the battery gets drained from running the headlights, playing the radio, using the dome light, supporting the car’s GPS system, and more, the alternator can recharge the battery while the engine is operating. As you drive for longer periods of time at higher RPMs, the more efficient the alternator will be at recharging your battery.
One thing that has changed is the type of battery being used. Manufacturers are gradually switching from lead acid batteries to glass-mat batteries which recharge more quickly and have more reserve power. This additional reserve power is critical since the increase in electrical components in newer cars means more items drawing from the battery. The drawback is that they also cost more.
It will be more difficult for your battery to maintain a good charge during extreme temperatures, as well as when lights and gadgets are left on for long periods of time when the car isn’t running. The alternator is not made to charge a dead battery, so if you’re not careful, you could be left with a dead battery and car that won’t start.
Know the Signs of a Failing Car Battery
- Dashboard lights: When your battery’s power is weak, it could trigger the check engine light, and possibly the low coolant It’s better to check it out and know for sure.
- Sluggish start: When you crank your engine, if it takes longer to start than normal, it may be the beginning signs of a weakening battery.
- Visual checks: Make it a habit to periodically check your battery. If it looks bloated, or the fluid levels (visible through a clear part of the battery’s casing) have dropped below the energy conductor (lead plates) inside the battery, it’s time to get it tested.
- Bad smell: If you begin to notice a smell that resembles rotten eggs when you approach your vehicle, the culprit could be a leaking battery.
Batteries typically stay in good working order for two to four years in Texas under normal operating conditions. Driving conditions, battery usage when the car is not running, exposure to extreme weather elements (like our Texas heat), and frequent short-distance driving (less than 20 minutes) can shorten the life of your battery.
To help our Kwik Kar customers get the most out of their driving experience, we do a battery check every time you come in for your regular maintenance and oil change. We’ll let you know if your battery is doing what it’s supposed to, or if it’s not.