Unlike the batteries you use in your portable devices, car batteries tend to die without giving much warning. Sometimes, if you are lucky, you might get an indication that the battery is weakening but sometimes, it just dies (or goes flat) and you cannot start your engine at all. Worse, with many of today’s cars having so many electronic systems, you might not be able to lock the doors because they rely on remote control.
You would think that motorists would therefore give more attention to the condition of their batteries but according to a survey in Malaysia, 7 in 10 vehicle breakdowns were caused by battery malfunctions. The survey was conducted by Bosch to obtain insights into car battery management habits among Malaysian drivers.
After 350 drivers aged between 18 and 55 were interviewed, the survey found that other reasons for breakdowns were engine problems (20%) and wiring issues (5%). The survey which also found that around 75% of the drivers were using maintenance-free batteries while the remainder had conventional lead-acid batteries which usually require topping up of the fluid.
“A car breakdown brings about much inconvenience to its driver, and even safety risks if the vehicle is disabled in the middle of traffic. At Bosch, we urge all drivers to perform regular battery checks regardless of battery type, be it by themselves or by their mechanics with an electronic battery-tester,” said Pang Yoon Kong, Country Manager of Bosch Automotive Aftermarket in Malaysia.
“Those using conventional lead-acid batteries need to be additionally conscientious with their battery maintenance. Approximately 50% of premature lead-acid car battery failures are caused by water loss, mostly due to the lack of maintenance or evaporation from high under-bonnet heat, especially in hot tropical climates such as Malaysia’s,” he added.
Mr. Pang advised that to prolong a lead-acid battery’s lifespan, constant, regular maintenance is necessary on the driver’s part. “This goes beyond topping-up of distilled water when the battery fluid level falls. For instance, one criterion for battery longevity is to maintain a full charge, which would be difficult to achieve if the vehicle is making short city-driving trips while using power-hungry electronic devices, including navigation systems, dashboard cameras, and charging mobilephones which is common nowadays,” he explained.
Mr. Pang also warned that anyone working with batteries needs to take extra care not to have any sources of ignition nearby because gases escaping from lead-acid batteries are flammable.
Typically, maintenance-free batteries have higher cranking power and charge capacities, recharge faster, and last longer than comparable conventional lead-acid batteries, aside from not requiring any maintenance. Most are also equipped with indicators to determine whether the battery is at optimum charge or not, and also when it needs to be replaced.
Bosch maintenance-free batteries are equipped with a flame-arrestor features that enhance safety by preventing external sparks or flames from igniting battery gases. “We believe these to be the reasons why most Malaysian drivers are using maintenance-free batteries for hassle-free convenience and safety,” said Mr. Pang.