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Your Battery (accumulator) worn out? » Read more about common malfunctions • Repair • Replacement manual
Electricity storage in the car: the battery The battery is the central electricity storage unit in a vehicle. It supplies the necessary voltage for all electricity consuming systems. Furthermore, the battery is indispensable for starting the car as it supplies the electricity for the starter motor and the ignition voltage until the engine has started. Construction of the battery The battery consists of several consecutive cells. In cars and motorcycles 6-cell batteries are most commonly used. They supply voltages of 12 – 14.4 V. Trucks often have 12-cell batteries supplying a voltage of up to 24 Volt. The old 3- and 6-Volt batteries are nowadays only used for mopeds. The cell is a chamber with two ground-plate electrodes of lead with a distance of several millimetres between them. These cells are filled with a weak solution of hydrochloric acid. Charging and de-charging provokes an electrolytic reaction in the chamber. The battery receives its current from the generator and serves as a voltage equaliser for the generator, whose electricity supply depends on its rotation speed. Battery defects The battery is principally a wear part with a limited life span. Reason for this is its construction. The aggressive hydrochloric acid permanently dissolves particles from the lead electrodes. This causes the battery to lose its storage capacity. The particles coagulate on the bottom of the battery. When the lead sediment reaches the electrode plates, the battery suddenly breaks down. This will show by the battery hardly receiving any voltage in the morning. This is especially the case at temperatures below zero. When being dropped, battery casings can develop cracks, causing the hydrochloric acid to leak. A short circuit on the battery poles is very dangerous as it causes risk of explosion. Especially problematic for lead batteries is always the deep discharge. If a battery has been discharged completely by an overlooked consumer, the battery capacity is very often damaged. Under circumstances, repair is possible. Battery repair For a long time, batteries used to be irreparable. This was always both annoying and expensive in case of the earlier described deep discharge, because a battery costs between 60 (£50) and 200 euro (£170). Since several years, special chargers are available, which are able to restore the battery capacity. Prior to replacement of a new battery it is worthwhile trying this. Most garages offer a preservative capacity restoration as a service. The chargers can be bought for ca. 150 euro (£130). Before battery replacement If a car starts reluctantly and unusual display and sounds occur, this is generally no fault of the battery. More likely, the earth cable is dirty, loose or corroded. The earth cable connects the negative pole of the battery with the bodywork of the car. It can be simply loosened with a 10 mm ring spanner. The contact points of the cable and the bodywork must be cleaned thoroughly before connecting the cable again, and its connections must be tightened thoroughly. In most cases the electronics and the starting capacity of the car will now be functional again. This malfunction only occurs in old cars. Don't forget the safety cap The positive pole of the battery must always be covered with a safety cap. A missing cap constitutes a permanent danger of short circuit and consequently of explosion. Furthermore a missing safety cap will cause a 90 euro (£75) fine in case of police control and a penalty point on your driver record. Battery life A high-grade battery from a brand manufacturer can have a life span of up to 10 years. Too cheap batteries, however, will be up for replacement within a few years.