Probably, every car owner at least once faced a situation when his car refused to start due to a dead battery. And what is remarkable, it happens at the most inopportune moment. It’s good if there is someone nearby who will not refuse and give you a “light” from your car or help you push.
To prevent such troubles, it is necessary to diagnose and service the battery in a timely manner. Only in this way can you be completely sure that at the right time it will not let you down. If you suddenly notice that the battery in your car is quickly discharged, hurry to determine the cause of this phenomenon and eliminate it, especially if you are going on a long trip. Otherwise, you can get stuck for a long time somewhere far from the settlement, waiting for help. In this article, we will talk about why the car battery is draining, how to determine the cause of the discharge, and also consider ways to solve a similar problem.
Features of battery operation
The battery in the car performs two main functions: it provides engine start and protects the on-board network from sudden voltage drops that may occur when it is powered fromgenerator. In addition, it supports the operation of the lighting and alarm systems, and also supplies electricity to some devices when the engine is not running. Due to constant loads, the battery, of course, sits down. This is normal. However, when the engine starts to work, the generator turns on in the process, which switches the entire load on itself, providing the on-board circuit of the machine with the generated electricity. At the same time, the battery does not turn off, but, on the contrary, begins to charge from the supplied electricity. Thus, the battery lives in a constant discharge-charge cycle.
In this mode, a modern battery can last up to five years and longer, of course, if the car owner maintains its viability. But unfortunately, it also happens that even a new battery becomes unusable within a few months, losing its ability to hold a charge.
The reasons why the battery loses its properties
Let's take a look at the most common causes of battery drain. These include:
- long service life;
- late service;
- wrong electrical connection;
- current leakage;
- malfunction of the generator or its additional equipment that provides battery charging;
- car owner negligence.
Let's analyze these reasons in more detail and consider ways to eliminate them.
Nothing is eternal in this world. This truth also applies toaccumulators. No matter how powerful the battery is, no matter how much money it costs, no matter how often it is serviced, over time it will no longer cope with its functions. And there's nothing you can do about it. The chemical processes occurring inside the battery contribute to the oxidation and destruction of the electrodes, as a result of which they, in fact, are destroyed.
Some "specialists" undertake to restore old batteries, of course, demanding a certain fee for this. The very process of "resurrection" of the battery is a kind of shock therapy using high voltage. Indeed, after such procedures, the battery can work for some more time: a week or a month, after which it will “die” forever.
So if the battery is running low and not holding a charge, but it has served faithfully for 4-5 years, it is better to send it to a well-deserved rest, replacing it with a new battery.
Most modern batteries are maintenance free. Due to the hermetic case, the evaporation of the electrolyte in such batteries is reduced to zero. However, even a maintenance-free battery will lose its charge if it is not recharged in time.
As for the serviced batteries that are more familiar to us, without timely topping up of electrolyte, they are unlikely to last long. It is recommended at least twice a year to check its level in jars, measure the density and, based on the results obtained, add liquid and charge.
Battery maintenance is notlimited to this. It is also necessary to monitor her condition. Oxidized terminals, dirt and moisture on the surface - all this leads to the fact that the battery is discharged.
Incorrect electrical connection
The reason for the discharge can also be the inept work of an auto electrician. In practice, it often happens that when installing a car radio, unfortunate craftsmen confuse wires, which leads to the fact that the device functions fully, bringing pleasure to the driver, however, an extra load occurs in the electrical circuit of the car. As a result, the radio works, the battery is discharged, and all other electrical equipment is endangered.
This doesn't just apply to tape recorders. Today, when the market is full of various gadgets and gadgets for cars, individual motorists, without hesitation, install them in their cars, and the more the better. Few people understand that all these DVRs, radar detectors, rear-view cameras, navigators, speakerphone, video players, daytime running lights, threshold lights, being connected to the on-board circuit of the car, create an additional load on the generator. You ask, why then the battery is discharged? Yes, because when the generator stops coping, the battery helps it.
If you have checked and refuted all the previous options, but the battery is discharging, the cause may lie in the current leakage. This phenomenon is an uncontrolled consumption of battery power by appliances,which we usually leave on when leaving the car: ECM, anti-theft alarm, clock, radio, etc.
All of them continue to eat even when the ignition is off. Permissible leakage, at which the battery is not subjected to a deep (critical) discharge, is 50-80 mA. But if this indicator is exceeded, the battery may lose its properties prematurely. For example, a medium-capacity battery will drain overnight if it leaks 1-2 A.
Uncontrolled power consumption can also be the result of broken wiring insulation or exposure to moisture on electrical contacts. In this case, a short circuit will occur, due to which the battery will be discharged even faster.
How to spot a leak
To set the amount of current leakage, you will need an ordinary car tester or a multimeter, turned on in ammeter mode and in the range of 0-20 A. Measurements are made by connecting the probes of the device in series to the battery terminal and the corresponding wire. One probe (polarity does not matter) is connected to the "-" battery, and the second - to the ground wire disconnected from the battery. Similarly, you can double-check the amount of leakage by connecting the ammeter contacts to the positive terminal and the positive bus. Attention: in no case do not connect a multimeter or a tester turned on in voltmeter mode in this way - it will simply burn out!
Another reason why the battery is draining quickly may be a broken generator. At the same time, it either stops supplying electricity to the battery, or the electricity generated by it is not enough for a full charge. It is not difficult to determine such a malfunction. It is enough to pay attention to the instrument panel. On all vehicles without exception, it is equipped with appropriate indicators. A red lit battery icon indicates that the battery is not being recharged, and a scale with the corresponding designation indicates the voltage supplied to the battery. In case of problems with the generator, it is recommended to immediately contact an auto electrician, because there can be any number of reasons, ranging from an incorrectly tensioned belt to a burned out voltage regulation relay.
Car Owner Negligence
Often the owner of the car or the driver, without knowing it, becomes the culprit of the rapid discharge of the battery. A radio tape recorder or light signaling devices left overnight can drain the battery in a few hours. Oxidation of the battery terminals, moisture and dirt around them, or a long idle time in severe frost can lead to this result.
Some useful tips
In fact, there are many more reasons for battery discharge, and it is impossible to foresee all possible options. But still try to follow these tips:
- when buying a new battery, select a model whose capacity and starting current would correspondvehicle parameters;
- timely diagnose and maintain the battery (adding electrolyte, recharging, removing dirt and moisture from the surface);
- don't leave electrical appliances on overnight;
- avoid malfunctions in the car's power supply system;
- don't trust homegrown auto electricians to service your car.