All you need to know about car batteries - the different types, how to choose the right battery and when to change your battery.
These days, the only conversations people have about vehicle batteries are those found on an electric vehicle. It feels like people are getting more familiar with EV batteries rather than those currently sitting underneath their bonnet in their ICEV's.
Well, till EVs take over because they eventually will, the battery underneath your bonnet is still the heart of internal combustion cars because, without it, there's just no way that the car will start.
But what do you know about your car's battery? Is it always working all the time, and how do you really care for it? If you know the answers to it, then great, but if you don't, don't worry, because this fun piece of information about car batteries is about to get you up to speed.
How do car batteries work?
Powering your car is a complex affair, but here's a simple little fact for you: you need a functioning battery to get it to come alive. Your car battery provides the much-needed bolt of electricity to put electrical components to work, so a car battery is quite essential if you think about it.
The car battery is designed to only supply a short burst of high power, just enough to get the engine to move a couple of hundred RPMs through the electric starter. Once it has ticked over, the electric starter disengages, which by then would have drained a few percentage points off the car battery's state of charge.
With the engine running, an electric generator or more commonly known as an alternator, takes over from the battery, where it will generate electricity for the rest of the vehicle, usually between 13.5 V and 14.5 V.
If the battery itself tried to power a vehicle's electrical systems such as the ignition and fuel system, engine and transmission controls, audio and climate control, it would probably only be able to do it a few minutes before killing itself.
Three main things kill car batteries; heat, vibration, and discharging.
Heat basically accelerates corrosion and electrolyte evaporation, which shortens the life and kills a car's battery. This is why most cars have air dams or tubes to direct air at them, as it will help keep the battery nice and cool.
Vibration on the other hand works just like an earthquake as it'll shake everything around, including a battery's internal plates and loosen internal connections. A properly fitted battery will be safe from excessive vibration which is why sometimes you see some braces on top of the battery so that it doesn't move around.
Accidental discharge is possibly the worst thing for lead-acid batteries. Leaving the lights on for long periods or leaving things charged in a car all day will drain the battery, and this may require it to be jump-started if power is low, but the battery will never fully recover.
Short trips will also help kill a battery as the alternator doesn't have enough time to charge the battery up after many startups.
What types of batteries are there?
There are three main different battery types; AGM, EFB and Lead Acid.
Their high performance characterizes AGM and EFB batteries, while Lead Acid is more your run off the mill battery.
Lead Acid batteries - The Conventional battery for the conventional car
Conventional batteries such as lead-acid batteries are the most common types of battery. This technology is often referred to as SLI, which relates to the main functions of a vehicle battery: Starting, Lighting, and Ignition. They are suitable for vehicles without start-stop technology and a moderate number of electrical consumers.
Battery Example: Amaron NS40, Varta NS40ZL, Century NS40
Used on: Proton Iriz, Persona, Perodua Bezza, Axia
EFB batteries – Good for vehicles that have start-stop
EFB batteries are an optimized, higher performance version of wet battery (original type of rechargeable batteries). The abbreviation "EFB" stands for "Enhanced Flooded Battery.
Without going all too technical, EFB batteries have many possible charging cycles and provide more than double the partial and deep discharge performance compared to conventional batteries, thanks to some unique materials used between the plates inside a battery.
EFB batteries are often installed in vehicles with simple automatic start-stop systems. Due to their superior performance, batteries with EFB technology are also increasingly used as replacements for conventional lead-acid batteries.
Battey Examples: Varta Silver Dynamic, Amaron M42, Bosch ST Hightec
Used on: Any Mazda, BMW, Mercedes, Renault, Honda with start-stop feature
AGM batteries – If your car has start-stop, regen braking, and the whole nine yards.
AGM batteries are versatile, have high performance and are designed for high demands. In principle, the structure of an AGM battery is the same as that of a wet cell battery. However, in an AGM, the electrolyte is no longer free-floating but is bound in a special glass fibre separator – hence the name "Absorbent Glass Mat".
The large contact area contributes to the power output and also makes the battery leak-proof. Due to its construction, the battery is sealed airtight. This feature enables internal recombination of oxygen and hydrogen so that there is no water loss.
An AGM battery can withstand three times more cycle life than a conventional starter battery. AGM batteries are ideal for vehicles with automatic start-stop systems with braking energy recovery (recuperation). A conventional starter battery cannot handle the high power demands of these systems. AGM batteries are also the right choice for cars with high energy consumption and a large number of electrical components.
Battery examples: Banner AGM, Varta Powersport AGM, Magneti Marelli AGM
Used on: Any BMW with Efficient Dynamics and Mercedes with 48V Mild Hybrid
How to know it's time to change your battery?
Today's car batteries typically last three to five years in our type of hot and humid climate. A failing car battery will give you many warning signs, such as dim headlights, strange air conditioning behavior, or slow engine cranking. If any of these things creep up, get your battery checked before anything else.
For more latest car news, reviews, car buying guides and videos visit us at Carlist.my Auto News.
Check out all the best new & used car deals in Malaysia at Carlist.my.
Sell your car fast with the best offer? Visit us at CarlistBid.my.
Get the latest new car promotions at New Car website now.