If the car battery makes a “click” on startup, that’s not a good sign. Because then the power storage is either discharged or defective. This is not a rarity, says Heiko Wolfram of the ADAC. The employee of the ADAC Technik Center in Landsberg am Lech knows the statistics of the past decades: the battery was always the cause of breakdown number one.
As in 2014: Overall, the breakdown helpers of the ADAC moved almost four million times between January and December, over 700 000 times were the cause of battery failure. Winter is especially troubling for the batteries: “They are particularly challenged in the cold and humid seasons,” says Eberhard Meissner from the battery manufacturer Johnson Controls.
Are there any warning signals from the battery?
That’s hardly predictable: “No one hundred percent check system says: the battery is broken or not broken,” explains ADAC expert Wolfram. “You can get an idea of the voltage, but that does not say anything about the capacity.” This can only be determined by removing the power storage, discharging it with unique technology, and measuring it. A procedure that is not practical for the driver.
If the failure is imminent, the car gives with loud noises but clear evidence: “If the starter slows down, motorists should urgently recharge,” advises Wolfram. If the engine starts so straight, this can be done alternatively by moving around. If not, a jumper cable and another car driver may help.
Tip 1: No short distances
So that it does not come so far, motorists should follow a few rules of thumb. For example: avoid short distances. “If you only drive a few hundred meters to get bread every morning, then the battery breaks down faster,” said Wolfram.
Tip 2: Reload
If you park your car in the garage, the expert recommends regular reloading with a single accessory charger: “This can not hurt, especially in winter.”
Tip 3: Heating down
Winter electricity demand is significantly higher than the rest of the year: light, windshield wipers, blower, heated rear window, and heated seats – all this can consume more energy than the alternator is capable of recharging – especially on short hauls (see the section above)!
“In winter, you may still be able to set the seat heating to level one instead of setting it to six, or to turn off the rear window if the windscreen is free,” says Wolfram. But this is only worthwhile with older cars. “In modern cars, that happens automatically anyway.”
Jump-start in seven simple steps
If all the precautions have not been used and the car will not start, it only helps the jump start. And that is easier than many think. Your car will run again in just seven steps.
- Use the red wire to connect the positive terminal of the donor battery (A) to the positive terminal of the receiver battery (B)
- Connect the negative terminal of battery A to the engine block B with the black cable
- Start engine A.
- Motor B tries to start.
- Bis running. Switch on the consumer (light, rear window heating, etc.)
- Disconnect the black cable from engine block B and negative pole A.
- Remove the red cable.
Be careful when changing batteries.
If the battery keeps on giving up, only replacement is needed. But this is easier said than done: “Changing the battery used to be an easy task: disconnect the engine, disconnect the battery terminals, replace the battery, fix the terminal clamps – that’s it!” Explains Eberhard Meissner of Johnson Controls. Today, the battery is often only with the expertise to change and also not easy to find. Part hide instead of under the hood in the trunk or under the seat.
Also, the change on their own can have unpleasant side effects: “Who, for example, forget to maintain battery voltage with a backup battery, the onboard voltage can paralyze his car radio,” says ADAC technician Wolfram. Due to the interrupted power supply, the radio could “forget” the security code. If then the card with the code is not at hand, discontent is inevitable. Also, some alarm systems must be reinitialized in such cases with code numbers.
The experts, therefore, recommend replacing the battery with a specialist workshop. The experts there not only avoid such mistakes but also know the right battery type for the car. Hobby wrenches have to look it up in the manual.
Which battery is the right one?
Between the batteries, there are apparent differences, even in the size of the design: What fits in a beetle, is not necessarily suitable for a thick Mercedes. Also, in addition to the rated voltage, the capacity stated in ampere-hours (Ah) and the cold-start current indicated in ampere (A) differed. In the specialized trade, there are batteries usually cheaper than in car repair shops. Wolfram advises against the purchase of branded goods and affordable products.
“In vehicles with a start-stop system, a too-small battery can lead to the fuel economy function not being carried out correctly,” says expert Meissner, pointing to a different point. If cars have this technology on board, they need particular battery types that have abbreviations like “AGM” or “EFB.” These are batteries whose behavior has been improved for frequent switching on and off, explains ADAC-Mann Wolfram. (with DPA / cork material)