• Make Your Battery Last

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    Today’s report from Bob & Dave’s Garage is on car batteries, why they die and what we can do to lengthen their life. Most of us have had a dead battery at one time or another. In fact, it would be very unusual if you hadn’t. You may be surprised to learn that only 30 percent of Wyoming vehicle batteries last for 48 months.

    Now that’s an average. How long a battery lasts depends on many factors. You may not know that one of the biggest factors is the temperature where you live and drive around Wyoming. You might suppose that cold weather was harder on batteries because it takes more power to crank a cold engine, but the opposite is actually true.

    For more information on your battery, please visit us:
    Bob & Dave’s Garage
    2863 Byron Center Ave
    Wyoming, Michigan 49519
    616-532-7209

    Batteries in very cold climates have a life expectancy of 51 months as opposed to 30 months in very warm climates. The reason is simple: batteries are chemically more active when they’re hot than when they’re cold.

    A car battery will actually start to discharge on its own within 24 hours in hot weather. It takes several days in cold weather. When batteries are left too long in a state of partial discharge, the discharged portion of the battery plates actually, for the lack of a better word, ‘die’. Recharging the battery will not restore the dead part of the battery plate.

    One of the big problems for the way most of us drive in the Wyoming area, is that our batteries are often partially discharged. The biggest job the battery does is to start the car. It takes some time for the alternator to recharge the battery after starting. If you’re driving short distances, especially if there are several starts and stops, your battery may not fully recharge.

    Another issue is that vehicles are coming equipped with more and more electricity hungry accessories like navigation systems, DVD players, CD and MP3 players, heated seats, heated steering wheels and so on. And we often plug in cell phones, computers and other gadgets. Combine that with short trips and it’s no wonder that our batteries are partially discharged.

    Experts say we can extend our battery life by topping off the charge periodically using a good quality battery charger. You may’ve heard these chargers referred to as ‘trickle chargers’. They’re attached to the battery and plugged into a wall outlet to slowly bring the battery up to full charge.

    Now there’s some science involved with how fast a battery should be recharged. If you buy a cheap manual charger, you’ll have to tend it. Frankly a learning curve on how to do it right and requires much attention. A computer controlled charger – or smart charger – monitors the process and determines the appropriate rate of charge. And it even stops charging when it’s fully charged. It costs more than the manual charger, but the automatic model is worth it.

    The suggestion is to charge once a month in warm weather and once every three months in cold weather.

    Another thing to avoid is deeply discharging your battery. Something like running the headlights and stereo with the engine turned off. That’ll take months off the battery life every time you do it.

    Now, as we discussed, heat is hard on a battery. A dirty, greasy battery holds more heat. You can wipe off excess dirt with a paper towel or ask your service advisor at Bob & Dave’s Garage to clean it for you. Bob & Dave’s Garage can even test your battery and tell you if it’s time to replace it.

    Batteries are fairly expensive, so taking a few steps to make them last longer is well worth it. Of course, the battery will eventually need to be replaced. Always make sure you get a new battery that meets the factory specifications for your vehicle. If you feel you need more battery capacity than what came with your vehicle, talk with your service advisor at Bob & Dave’s Garage about appropriate upgrades.

    If you have a dead battery, be careful to inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire. And deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.

  • Battery Replacement At Bob & Dave’s Garage In Wyoming

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    Hello, welcome to Bob & Dave’s Garage. Today’s focus is batteries. It seems like everything in Wyoming runs on batteries. Of course, the batteries we’re most concerned with here at Bob & Dave’s Garage are those in our customer’s vehicles. Just like the batteries in our smoke detectors or TV remote, car batteries wear out and need to be replaced. There are a couple of things Wyoming drivers should know when looking for a new battery.

    Look for two measurements that come into play: cold cranking amps and reserve capacity.

    Let’s start with cold cranking amps. Battery Replacement At Bob & Dave's Garage This can be thought of as the power output used to start a cold vehicle engine. The number of cold cranking amps you need depends on your vehicle and where you live in Michigan, specifically how cold it is. (Many Michigan auto owners have first-hand experience trying to start their car on a cold winter morning.) The two factors are that the colder your vehicle’s engine is, the more power it takes to turn the engine over to get it started. It has all that cold, sluggish oil to contend with.

    The other factor is that the chemical reaction in the battery that creates electrical energy is less efficient when the temperature dips. At Bob & Dave’s Garage, we consult the table shown below. Let’s say it’s eighty degrees Fahrenheit in Wyoming. At that temperature, 100% of the battery’s power is available. At freezing, only 65% of battery power is available, but it requires 155% as much power to start the engine as it did at eighty degrees.

    As you can see from the chart, the colder it gets, more power’s needed, but the available power drops.

    Percent of Power Available Celsius Fahrenheit Power Required  
    100 27 80 100  
    65 0 32 155  
    40 -22 0 210  
    25 -32 20 350  

    So if you live where it’s cold in Michigan, you need a battery with more cold cranking amps than you do where it’s moderate or hot. The battery that originally came with your vehicle was based on averages. At Bob & Dave’s Garage, we like to remind Wyoming car owners that they should always get at least as many cold cranking amps as their car makers recommend, but may want to upgrade if they live where it gets real cold.

    And the type of engine you have will impact the battery you need: A six-cylinder engine requires more cold cranking amps than a four. An eight cylinder needs even more. And diesel vehicles require more than a gasoline engine with the same number of cylinders.

    Now on to reserve capacity: It’s a measurement of the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has at a given load. The number is more important to Wyoming motorists these days because of parasitic drain. Parasitic drain is the battery energy that’s used when the key is off in your vehicle. So, the power drawn by the security system, the remote start system, even the power the computers require to maintain their memory.

    Reserves are also needed when you make very short trips around Wyoming. You’re not driving long enough for the battery to recover the energy it used to start the engine. So go with the minimum recommended by your manufacturer or Bob & Dave’s Garage and upgrade if you need more.

    Talk with us at Bob & Dave’s Garage about your options. If you need more from your battery, a larger, heavy-duty battery may be called for. At Bob & Dave’s Garage in Wyoming, we remind our customers that it’s very important that the new battery fits your vehicle: the terminals can’t be touching other parts.

    Batteries are a big ticket item for most Michigan auto owners, so the warranty gives piece of mind. There’re two kinds of car battery warranties: pro-rated and free replacement. With the pro-rated, you get a credit for a portion of the battery if it fails during the warranty period. With a free replacement warranty, you get just that, a free replacement. Be sure to ask us at Bob & Dave’s Garage about the warranty so you know what you’re getting.

  • Charge It In Wyoming For Extended Battery Life

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    Here’s an interesting statistic for our friends in Wyoming Michigan: Only thirty percent of car batteries make it to forty-eight months. And the life expectancy varies by where you live. It ranges from fifty-one months in extremely cold areas to just thirty months in extremely hot climates.

    Why is that? It turns out that it’s our modern cars with all their electric accessories that are to blame. Things like, GPS, DVDs, and entertainment computers are keeping car batteries from maintaining a full charge. The longer a battery goes with a low charge, the sooner it’ll die.

    So you must recharge your battery. This is the job of the alternator. The problem comes when the car’s demand for electricity is high and we are driving in stop and go conditions or short trips around Wyoming or Wyoming. The alternator just can’t keep up.

    The result is shortened battery life. So what can we do to improve our battery’s health?

    We need to keep the battery as close to a full charge as possible. That can be hard because sitting for just twenty-four hours in hot weather between charges can be too long. When the weather’s cold, sitting for several days will cause discharge.

    So some highway driving between Wyoming or Wyoming will help keep a full charge if the battery has not been deeply depleted. Car batteries are not designed to be run down really low, or deep cycled, as it’s called. So using your headlights or other power accessories when the car is off can deeply deplete your battery. Using the alternator to recharge from a deeply depleted state is very hard on your battery because it charges too fast. In fact, on average, your battery would only last for ten recharges like that.

    If you do find yourself with a dead battery or very low battery, use a good quality battery charger to slowly bring the battery up to full charge. Follow the instructions on the charger.

    Because our batteries are so often at less than a full charge, experts suggest that we use a battery charger from time to time to keep the charge up. They recommend once a month during hot weather and once every three months during colder times.

    Now, a word on safety. Batteries contain sulfuric acid that can severely burn your skin and could blind you. If you find yourself with a dead battery, carefully inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire.

    Deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.

    Ask us about auto repair, too.