Vehicle batteries can be challenged during cold and damp months. Why is this – and exactly what should I look out for as a driver? Dr. Eberhard Meissner from Johnson Controls, the world’s largest manufacturer of lead-acid automotive batteries, answers four frequently asked questions, so that both you and your car can get through the winter without problems.
Four questions for Dr. Eberhard Meissner, battery expert at Johnson Controls
1. Why is it harder to start your vehicle in the winter?
Because of low temperatures, batteries charge more slowly and deliver less power in winter. Engines also require more power to start in cold temperatures- especially those run on diesel.
Rear window heaters, seat heating and fans use most of the power generated by the alternator, therefore, there is less power available to charge the battery, particularly during stop and go traffic.
2. How do I maintain and care for my vehicle battery?
If you have a maintenance-free battery, such as the VARTA® brand batteries, you do not need to add any water. There are also some preventative measures you should take to maintain your battery, such as:
· Clean your battery’s cover and terminals with an antistatic cloth. This will prevent unintended electrical discharge through residue in contact with the terminals.
· Make sure you have a solid electrical connection by inspecting your terminal clamps and tightening if necessary.
3. If I do have a breakdown, what is the correct way to jump start a vehicle?
Three things are particularly important when jump starting a vehicle:
· The batteries in both the working vehicle, and the vehicle which is to be started, must have the same voltage levels, so be sure to check the label. DO NOT try to jump start a vehicle with a standard 12V electrical system from a truck with a 24V electrical system, or vice versa.
· The jumper cables must be connected in the correct order.
· The engine of the working vehicle must be running before the ignition is switched on in the vehicle which is to be started, to avoid discharging the working battery.
How to jump start a vehicle:
· The ignition must be switched off in both vehicles.
1. Start by connecting the red jumper cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
2. Then connect the other end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal of the working battery.
3. The black cable must first be connected to the negative terminal of the booster battery
4. The other end must be connected to an unpainted area of the vehicle frame in the engine compartment of the vehicle which is to be started.
· Start the engine of the working vehicle.
· It is important to take care that the cables do not come anywhere near the fan or the fan belt.
· Do not start the engine of the broken down vehicle until the engine of the working vehicle is running.
· Once the vehicle has started, disconnect the cables in the reverse order that they were hooked up.
It’s important to note: You should follow the advice from the vehicle manufacturer, which can be found in the operator’s manual. If a manufacturer provides a special positive or negative service terminal post in the vehicle, this needs to be used.
4. How do I get my car ready for the winter?
· In addition to annual service checks for lights or tire changes, your vehicle’s battery should also be inspected.
· Many workshops, parts dealers and automobile clubs offer battery checks – sometimes free of charge.
· If you need to replace your battery, there are resources that make the process easy. Just visit: www.varta-automotive.com to find the right battery for your vehicle by entering just a few details. Independent workshops, authorized workshops, parts dealers and automobile clubs can also help you to find the right battery.
Johnson Controls Power Solutions, the global leader in lead-acid automotive batteries and advanced batteries for Start-Stop, hybrid and electric vehicles. In fact, our 50 manufacturing, recycling and distribution centers supply more than one third of the world’s lead-acid batteries to major automakers and aftermarket retailers. And through our innovations, we are building the advanced battery industry for hybrid and electric vehicles too: we were the first company in the world to produce lithium-ion batteries for mass-production hybrid vehicles. Our commitment to sustainability is also evidenced by our world-class technology, manufacturing and recycling capabilities.