Vehicle Maintenance Videos by West Service Center, Inc.: Battery Testing

The simple fact is that 70% of car batteries fail within 4 years. They just need to be replaced when they are no longer able to hold a full charge.

Batteries are a big ticket item for most Chesapeake motorists and it’s tempting to put off buying a new one as long as possible. But a battery that cannot hold a full charge requires the alternator to work extra hard, causing it to wear out prematurely.

Your West Service Center, Inc. service professional can test your battery to see if it should be replaced. Testing is a good idea for Virginia motorists because a battery might still be good, but become dead because of a bad alternator or even a worn serpentine belt and tensioner.

Give us a call

West Service Center, Inc.
757-487-4420
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323

A New Battery In Chesapeake

Hello Chesapeake drivers, let’s talk about batteries. Car batteries are just like any rechargeable battery. They will eventually wear out and die. If you are shopping for a new battery in Chesapeake, here’s some auto advice to help you.

There are two measurements to consider when purchasing a new battery: cold cranking amps and reserve capacity. The power required to start a cold engine is measured in cold cranking amps. The number you need is determined by what kind of vehicle you drive and where you live. In general, higher-cylinder engines require more cold cranking amps than lower-cylinder engines. In other words, an eight-cylinder engine needs more cold cranking amps than a six-cylinder one. Also, diesel engines require more cold cranking amps than gasoline engines.

The Chesapeake weather also determines the number of cold cranking amps you need. The colder the van engine, the more power it takes to get it started. Also, cold Virginia weather reduces the electrical efficiency of the battery, which reduces the amount of energy available in the battery to start the engine. Thus, in freezing temperatures, you need more power to start an engine, but you have less power available to get it started.

So if you live in a cold climate, or in an area in Virginia where winters can get really chilly, it is vital to have a battery with more cold cranking amps than if you live in a more mild or warmer climate.

The battery that was installed in your van at the factory may not have the appropriate number of cold cranking amps for your area. It is vital to check the manufacturer’s recommendations and get at least that number of cold cranking amps, but you may want to upgrade if you live in a colder climate.

Reserve capacity is the number of minutes your battery can maintain essential functions in your van without being recharged. There are two things that affect reserve capacity. The first is referred to as parasitic drain. Your van has power systems that must be kept running while the engine is off. These may include the security system, the remote start systems, and any computer systems. The number and power requirements of these systems has greatly increased over the last few decades. As a result, the need for reserve capacity in vehicles’ batteries has also increased. Very short trips around Chesapeake and Portsmouth do not allow a vehicle’s battery to recover the energy that was used to start the car. So these trips require reserve capacity as well.

Again, the reserve capacity in the battery installed at the factory may not be what you need for your Chesapeake lifestyle and driving habits. Again, use the manufacturer’s recommendation as a minimum, but consider upgrading if your van has a lot of parasitic power drain or if you frequently make very short trips around Chesapeake.

Your honest service advisor at West Service Center, Inc. in Chesapeake can help you choose an appropriate battery for your vehicle and your lifestyle. If you need extra power owing to cold weather or a need for more reserve capacity, you may want to choose a heavy-duty battery. Just make sure it fits into your van. An oversized battery may give you the power you need, but it’s a serious safety hazard if the terminals come into contact with other parts of the vehicle.

Car batteries aren’t cheap in Chesapeake, so you may want to consider the warranty when purchasing. Pro-rated warranties will give you credit for a portion of the battery if the battery fails during the warranty period. The amount of credit will depend on how long the battery lasted. A free replacement warranty will replace your battery if it fails during the warranty period. Before you purchase a battery, make sure you know what you are buying.

Keep in mind that preventive maintenance and good car care can extend the life of your battery. Judicious use of electric gadgets and good driving habits is vital and can help you get the most out of your battery.

Battery Basics For Chesapeake

Chesapeake Battery Service

It’s important for Chesapeake car owners to know battery basics. First, let’s talk about which is harder on a battery – hot or cold Virginia weather. Most Chesapeake drivers think it’s cold weather because that’s when we call on our batteries to have enough power to start a cold van engine.

However, heat does more damage to a battery than cold. Truth is, our batteries start to die a little from day one. Keeping a full charge slows the process, which is hard with short Chesapeake trips because the alternator doesn’t have time to fully recharge the battery from starting the engine. Chesapeake drivers can top off the charge with a computer controlled battery charger – say, once a month in the summer and every three months during the winter.

As far as how long a battery will last, statistics show that 70% have given up the ghost within four years. By that time, they aren’t capable of taking a full charge like they used to, and your van alternator has to work overtime to keep up. This causes your alternator to wear out early.

If you’re pushing 4 to 5 years on your battery, see your honest West Service Center, Inc. technician for a battery test to see if it’s recommended to replace it. Not only can you avoid getting stranded with a dead battery, but you’ll save unnecessary wear and tear on your van alternator.

Give us a call

West Service Center, Inc.
757-487-4420
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323

Make Your Battery Last

Today’s report from West Service Center, Inc. is on car batteries, why they die and what we can do to lengthen their life. Most of us have had a dead battery at one time or another. In fact, it would be very unusual if you hadn’t. You may be surprised to learn that only 30 percent of Chesapeake vehicle batteries last for 48 months.

Now that’s an average. How long a battery lasts depends on many factors. You may not know that one of the biggest factors is the temperature where you live and drive around Chesapeake. You might suppose that cold weather was harder on batteries because it takes more power to crank a cold engine, but the opposite is actually true.

For more information on your battery, please visit us:
West Service Center, Inc.
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420

Batteries in very cold climates have a life expectancy of 51 months as opposed to 30 months in very warm climates. The reason is simple: batteries are chemically more active when they’re hot than when they’re cold.

A car battery will actually start to discharge on its own within 24 hours in hot weather. It takes several days in cold weather. When batteries are left too long in a state of partial discharge, the discharged portion of the battery plates actually, for the lack of a better word, ‘die’. Recharging the battery will not restore the dead part of the battery plate.

One of the big problems for the way most of us drive in the Chesapeake area, is that our batteries are often partially discharged. The biggest job the battery does is to start the car. It takes some time for the alternator to recharge the battery after starting. If you’re driving short distances, especially if there are several starts and stops, your battery may not fully recharge.

Another issue is that vehicles are coming equipped with more and more electricity hungry accessories like navigation systems, DVD players, CD and MP3 players, heated seats, heated steering wheels and so on. And we often plug in cell phones, computers and other gadgets. Combine that with short trips and it’s no wonder that our batteries are partially discharged.

Experts say we can extend our battery life by topping off the charge periodically using a good quality battery charger. You may’ve heard these chargers referred to as ‘trickle chargers’. They’re attached to the battery and plugged into a wall outlet to slowly bring the battery up to full charge.

Now there’s some science involved with how fast a battery should be recharged. If you buy a cheap manual charger, you’ll have to tend it. Frankly a learning curve on how to do it right and requires much attention. A computer controlled charger – or smart charger – monitors the process and determines the appropriate rate of charge. And it even stops charging when it’s fully charged. It costs more than the manual charger, but the automatic model is worth it.

The suggestion is to charge once a month in warm weather and once every three months in cold weather.

Another thing to avoid is deeply discharging your battery. Something like running the headlights and stereo with the engine turned off. That’ll take months off the battery life every time you do it.

Now, as we discussed, heat is hard on a battery. A dirty, greasy battery holds more heat. You can wipe off excess dirt with a paper towel or ask your service advisor at West Service Center, Inc. to clean it for you. West Service Center, Inc. can even test your battery and tell you if it’s time to replace it.

Batteries are fairly expensive, so taking a few steps to make them last longer is well worth it. Of course, the battery will eventually need to be replaced. Always make sure you get a new battery that meets the factory specifications for your vehicle. If you feel you need more battery capacity than what came with your vehicle, talk with your service advisor at West Service Center, Inc. about appropriate upgrades.

If you have a dead battery, be careful to inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire. And deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.