Battery tests should be part of winter checks

Johnson Controls: Role of battery is increasingly important in modern cars

As temperatures get colder, motorists get more conscious of their car’s conditions. In some instances – especially in colder European markets – this means changing to winter tyres. Meanwhile testing lights are a matter of course for drivers. However, the car battery is often neglected, although it is under even more stress during the cold season. For example, continuous use of the windshield heater or the air conditioning system takes a large amount of power and makes heavy demands on the battery. Especially in winter, the only way to avoid unpleasant surprises is to have the battery checked regularly by the workshop – something battery maker Johnson Controls is advocating. The latest ADAC statistics show that 39 per cent of all breakdowns are due to the battery.

“Drivers often have the mistaken idea that the battery does not need to supply energy when the engine is switched off”, explains Dr. Christian Rosenkranz, vice president Engineering at Johnson Controls Power Solutions. “However, systems such as alarms, door locks, keyless-go functions and navigation systems also need energy when the car is parked. Windshield heaters and ventilators are in continuous use more often in winter. All this contributes to discharge of the battery.

“Because modern batteries are maintenance-free, very few drivers have them checked by an expert“, says Rosenkranz. “Ideally, the battery should be checked at the next lighting test or tire change. If the battery needs to be changed, this should be done by a specialist”.

“Modern cars are complex systems which are equipped with extensive electronics. As the “heart” of the vehicle, the battery supplies all of the electrical components with energy – from the ignition to the entertainment systems. Therefore, it is even more important that the battery functions properly under all conditions. Special knowledge and special tools are necessary to replace the battery, for example to avoid interrupting the circuit between the battery and the onboard computer. In addition, the battery is often not easy to find and may be complicatedly installed in the trunk or in the floor space. Because of this, drivers should no longer replace the battery themselves. One false move may result in loss of data in the vehicle control units, reduced reliability of comfort functions such as seat heaters, and under certain circumstances failure of the start-stop system”.

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