Batteries and bad weather

More than any other season, winter takes its toll on the performance of a vehicle's battery

Published:  06 March, 2015

Many motorists find themselves inconvenienced and stranded as old and unfit batteries fail as the temperature drops. New vehicle technologies now in the market, such as Start/Stop systems, place greater demands on the battery. To meet the energy demands needed to deliver the multitude of comfort, safety and system functions, while at the same time providing reliable starting power, a car's battery needs to be in full working order during the coldest months.

The start of the winter season is an ideal time for a garage to alert its customers to the issues around batteries and offer advice and guidance on avoiding problems. Many motorists don't understand modern battery technology and the rise in its complexity means that, increasingly, batteries need to be fitted using specialist test equipment.

Battery testing

When it comes to replacing a vehicle's battery, like-for-like is strongly recommended. If a technician has taken an EFB or AGM battery off a vehicle, they will need to ensure the same technology is put back into the vehicle. A lead acid battery may not cycle enough to cope with the harsh strain that a Start/Stop system places on the battery.

If the vehicle has a battery management system (BMS), an electronic system that manages a rechargeable battery, when a new battery is installed it needs to be coded to the vehicle. It only takes a technician a few minutes to tell the ECU a new battery has been fitted simply by entering the first ten digits of the thirteen digit battery bar code into a Bosch KTS machine. If the battery isn't coded correctly then this could result in the battery not being charged and the vehicle not starting, as well causing damage to the battery's cells and shortening the life of the battery.

John Rawlins, Bosch Product Specialist for Batteries, "On a vehicle with BMS, it is essential that a battery is coded to a vehicle when being replaced. If coding is not done correctly the worst case scenario is the vehicle will not start. This means that, increasingly a battery replacement cannot be carried out without diagnostic equipment. If a motorist is ever in doubt they should consult a workshop technician."

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