Charged up and ready

Charged up and ready

Ensuring your vehicle’s battery is in top condition is paramount to keeping other components in good working order and reducing downtime

The battery is one of those components no one ever thinks about until the day it gives trouble. Corrosion or leaked acid around the terminals, dim lights, hard starting in the morning and a swollen or bloated battery case can all signal its time for a battery test.

While a well-maintained battery could easily last three years or longer, a poorly functioning battery can put stress on other healthy components – and cost more money than it should.

Nonetheless, a common reason for trucks to spend time on the shop floor is electrical failure, which often includes dead batteries.    

To make selection easier, most battery manufacturers and specialist outlets offer a battery selection guide on their websites. This allows users to find the exact type of battery that will provide optimum performance for their vehicle’s make, model and year.

With more than 50 years of experience in distributing and providing aftermarket support for many international brands, Probe serves the heavy- and light-duty automotive, mining and construction equipment industries. According to the company, not all batteries are created equal.

“To gain the optimal performance from a battery requires correctly choosing one that will complement the purpose of the vehicle and the environment in which the vehicle must operate,” the company notes.

“For instance, Probe’s heavy-duty batteries differ for mining and construction equipment, farm or heavy-duty trucks, and marine or stationary vehicles. In particular, Probe has developed a range of batteries to allow for various amp-per-hour ratings required for each application. This ensures that users have a suitable choice of battery for their individual applications.”

Once the correct battery has been installed, what’s the best way to keep it in top condition?

It is advised to avoid overcharging a battery (a symptom of a faulty regulator in the alternator) as this causes corrosion of the positive grids and damage to the positive active material in the battery. This reduces the battery’s ability to carry the starting current.

While not necessarily a problem for those in the transport industry, continual short trips can also affect battery life; as it is not given enough time to fully recharge on each trip.

It’s also worth noting that batteries are particularly susceptible to cold temperatures, which can
cause a drop in voltage as well as shorten the battery’s life.

When handling a battery, it’s worth remembering some basic safety advice. Batteries contain flammable chemicals and gasses, so naked flames or sparks should be kept away – they can explode. Similarly, a battery should never be “tested” by shorting the terminals with wire or tools.

The earth lead should always be disconnected first and replaced last when removing or replacing batteries. This will minimise the risk of a short circuit between tools and vehicle frame. Batteries should be charged in a well-ventilated area.

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