An automotive battery is a rechargeable battery that supplies electrical energy to a motor vehicle. It is also known as an SLI battery (abbreviation of starting-lighting-ignition) and its main purpose is to start the engine. Once the engine is running, power for the car is supplied by the alternator.
Main Functions of Car Batteries
Car batteries are required by every car owner & each car needs several batteries in their lifetimes. Though a car is run mainly by fuel, several of its electrical & electronic parts are run by a car battery. The battery of a car is mainly responsible for the start of its engine. When the car keys are inserted and twisted, it is the car battery which generates sparks into the engine. These sparks ignite the fuel and all the time that the car is running, the car battery generates sparks. Such a battery also contains an alternator which recharges the car as it runs on wheels.
Besides powering the car and running several electronic appliances on (like woofers, GPS navigations or DVD) on it, it also powers the lights, both inside and outside the car. The headlights, which show the way ahead in the dark & the indicators, which often prevent road accidents are also powered by the car’s battery. Thus, it is very important part of any car and must be purchased with caution.
The wrong or improper choice of your vehicle’s battery can therefore not only be a waste of money but also cause you additional hassles. Moreover, there are myriad varieties of car batteries available in the market today & they are a highly perishable commodity. Hence, before you buy your car battery online or offline, it is mandatory that you know about the battery needs of your car and its specifications to make the right choice.
Car batteries are rated in cranking amperes(CA) or cold cranking amperes(CCA). Cranking amperes are rated for hotter countries while cold cranking amperes are meant to be used for colder climates. Battery ratings are important factor in determining car battery price & performance. Buying a car battery with lesser rating than recommended can dramatically shorten its overall lifespan.
Car batteries can chiefly be of two types:
1. Wet Cell Starting Battery– They have thin battery plates that can provide high emission rage during cranking.
2. Deep Cycle Battery– They are designed for lower but constant discharge of electricity. Deep cycle car batteries require longer times for recharging at low amp settings and have lesser CCA. They are rated in amp-hours. Thus by knowing a few basics, you too can make the right battery choice for your car.
By having regular battery and starting / charging system checks every six months, you can identify many potential problems before a failure occurs. During this test your technician should check battery condition, connections and alternator output. It is also important to regularly inspect the condition of the alternator drive belt and replace if necessary. An alternator drive belt that is slipping can damage the battery.
Without a properly functioning battery and charging system, your vehicle’s performance will be affected. Most modern vehicles are outfitted with computer controlled fuel delivery, ignition systems, transmissions, sensors and microprocessors that require a steady supply of controlled electricity to function properly.
WHAT IS A STARTER MOTOR?
The starter motor is a powerful electric motor, with a small gear (pinion) attached to the end. When activated, the gear meshes with a larger gear (ring), which is attached to the engine. The starter motor the engine over to start the engine. When the engine starts to spin faster than the starter, the starter automatically disengages.
Important Consumer Information
WHAT ELSE IS AFFECTED?
If the battery in your car is bad or near the end of its useful life, the alternator may not supply the required amount of alternating current (AC) to keep the vehicle operating properly. If any other components in the charging system are malfunctioning, the entire system will suffer from poor performance or system failure.
Batteries almost never fail at a good time. To prolong battery life, battery, terminals and cable ends should be kept clean and free from corrosion. The battery and starting/charging system should be periodically tested for proper performance. Many testers utilized today are able to predict when a battery is near the end of its useful life.
Things to watch for
- Make sure the battery rating meets at least the minimum cranking amperage (CA or CCA)requirement for your vehicle
- Even today maintenance free batteries need periodic inspection & cleaning to ensure proper operation
- The fan/alternator or serpentine belt on your vehicle is an integral part of the charging system. Belts should be inspected for signs of wear and proper adjustment
- Loose or corroded cable ends may prevent your battery from maintaining a full state of charge
- Heat causes more damage to batteries than cold weather, but starting a vehicle in cold winter weather puts more strain on it