Owning a car has been indispensable for many years as rapid movement from one place to another is something that we human beings appreciate very much. Cars are made up of many parts that make them work properly, but one of the most important is the battery. Have you ever wondered how do car batteries work?
The battery is one of the main parts of all vehicles, especially because it is responsible for storing chemical energy and then releasing it in the form of electrical energy to start the engine. In fact, it is the most essential part of the starting system.
Due to the importance of this part in any vehicle, it is essential to know its correct operation. That is because the good or bad condition of the battery will directly influence the vehicle’s performance. Understanding how it works will help us to maintain it properly.
How Do Car Batteries Work? Batteries convert chemical energy into electrical energy. This process is done through an electrolyte fluid and metal plates. When a circuit is complete the electrons can flow creating electricity.
As we have said before, batteries are responsible for storing electrical energy through a chemical process. That occurs when the positive and negative plates are immersed in an electrolyte fluid, which is a solution of sulfuric acid and water. Subsequently, electricity begins to flow from the battery at the moment when there is a circuit connected between the positive and negative terminals. By using this process this is how car batteries work.
How Do Car Batteries Produce Electricity?
The battery is composed of an accumulator with 9 plates (5 negative ones and 4 positive ones) which are connected alternately through a bridge. These pieces are submerged in a compartment with sulfuric acid, which acts as a catalyst, triggering a chemical reaction between them. When this solution combines with the plates, the reaction produced generates electrons producing a chemical reaction that creates an electrical current.
Once the electricity is delivered to the battery, the vehicle is started, and the process is reversed. That is, the alternator, responsible for supplying most of the electrical current to a car’s electrical systems, will recharge the battery again by converting electrical energy into chemical energy.
Main functions of Car Batteries
As mentioned above, the battery’s main function is to provide the energy necessary to start a vehicle engine through a process that involves converting chemical energy into electrical energy. However, that is not the only function.
Car batteries are also used to power any car’s electrical equipment in a state of rest when the alternator cannot supply the necessary current. Some of them are:
- Lighting system.
- Central lock system.
It is important to bear in mind that although the amount of energy consumed by these electrical elements may be low, they could discharge the battery if they are used for long periods.
A car battery also acts as a voltage stabilizer in the electrical system in order to protect this system. This part reduces the voltage variations that can occur in the electrical system.
In cases where a car requires a large amount of energy, the battery supports the alternator.
What is the Lifespan of a Car Battery?
Generally, the life of a car battery can last between 3 and 5 years. This time can be extended, but that will depend on the care and maintenance we perform. In comparison, a battery will not last the same in a vehicle of a person who travels a lot compared to one who does not travel as often. If we use our car properly, we will ensure that the battery lasts no less than three years.
A dead battery is one of the most common problems faced by people who own a vehicle. When the batteryt reaches this state, starting your car may be difficult. On many occasions, this could lead to deeper breakdowns that negatively affect the car’s starting system.
Some external reasons why a car battery reaches the end of its useful life are:
- Outside temperature.
- Long downtime.
- Excessive use either by forcing the start cycles or by supplying other electrical elements of the vehicle.
- The poor performance of the charging system, which occurs due to failures in the voltage regulator or alternator.
How to Keep a Car Battery in Good Condition?
Just as there are situations and factors that can negatively affect the health of a battery, there are also certain things we can do (and not do) to protect it and prolong it:
- Batteries contain the electrolyte, which can leak at times.
- Do not leave the car without starting for long periods. Many people do not use their vehicles very often. The batteries must be regularly charged, so it is recommended that you at least make regular trips with the car for half an hour each day. You can also invest in a smart charger to connect it for long periods without the risk of damaging the battery.
- Also, be sure to keep all electrical equipment and items off when parking the vehicle. The interior lights, headlights, and the radio are some of the things that can drain your battery when parked. In this way, we will help reduce the load on the battery.
- You should never bring the battery near a heat source as it can produce flammable gases.
- You should always keep the battery in the car. It is not recommended to remove it unless it is really necessary. However, when removing it, be sure to hold it properly by grasping it by the base or its handles.
- Always verify that when installing the battery in your vehicle, the polarity of the terminals is correct. If not, the car’s electrical system could be damaged.
- Make sure the wire connections at the terminals are not loose or covered corrosion. Always keep them clean. A recommendation to prevent the build-up of corrosive material on the terminal connectors is to coat them with petroleum jelly.