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Complete Guide To Car Batteries

16th September 2022

Whether you have a fuel-powered car, hybrid, or electric vehicle they all have one thing in common - they all need a car battery to help them run. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about car batteries including.

In a petrol or diesel car, your battery will be used to power your lights, radio, heating and air conditioning. The battery also powers your car's ignition giving it a burst of electrical energy which starts the engine. In electric and hybrid cars you’ll rely on batteries to power the electric motors that help your car run. Without a car battery, you won’t be able to get anywhere in your car!

Types of car battery

There are various different types of car battery, and it may feel like a minefield trying to figure out which car battery you need. The main types of battery used in cars include;

  • Flooded Lead Acid Battery – A flooded lead acid battery is also known as an SLI battery, this stands for Starting, Lighting and Ignition. It’s an affordable and reliable type of battery. And, it’s one of the most common types of battery you’ll find in a car, made from 6 cells and has a voltage of 12.6V. It’s worth remembering that this type of battery needs the liquid topping up inside the battery on a regular basis, and because of this needs to be installed vertically to stop any leaks or spills.
  • Enhanced Flooded Battery – An enhanced flooded battery is simply that - an enhanced version of the Flooded Lead Acid Battery. This type of battery is built to last longer than an SLI battery and it is capable of more engine starts.
  • Silver Calcium Battery – Silver calcium batteries are made in the same way as a flooded battery but use a different type of battery plate. This helps protect the battery against corrosion and is more durable in high temperatures. The battery is also sealed, which means you won't need to top up the liquid inside.
  • Gel or Dry Cell Battery – Dry cell batteries were invented with the purpose of reducing the risk of spillage that you get with flooded batteries. These batteries are sealed and also have the benefit of being more durable when exposed to movement and vibration.
  • Absorbent Glass Mat Battery – AGM batteries were developed to meet the needs of modern vehicles. In the past, cars only needed a battery to power the ignition, lights and heating. These days modern cars need more power from the battery to run air-con systems, charge your phone, run your sat-nav, electric windows and more. Although an AGM battery is much more powerful than a traditional car battery it is also one of the more expensive types of battery.
  • Lithium-Ion Battery – For electric and hybrid vehicles, you’ll find they’re usually powered by lithium-ion batteries. These are the same type of batteries used to power your mobile phone, camera and most other rechargeable batteries. This type of battery is very light because the battery has less weight to move, which means it’ll take longer for the car to lose charge. Usually, an electric vehicle will last around 100-300 miles on one charge, depending on the weather conditions and your driving habits and the battery itself should last up to 10 years before it needs to be replaced.

Here at Merityre, we stock a wide range of Yuasa car batteries, if you’re not sure which battery is best for you, you can simply fill in your car details into our battery finder to get a match.

What causes a flat battery

Car batteries can become flat for a number of reasons including.

  • Adverse weather: You’ll find that weather conditions have the biggest impact on your battery, we’ve all been in the position where you go to start your car on a cold winter's morning to find it has gone flat. This is because not only are you using your electrics more in the cold weather in the way of heating and lighting, but also because your car battery has to work harder to run in cold temperatures. The same can be said about hot weather, in hot climates you’re more likely to need to run the air-con and if your battery overheats it is more likely to leak and spill.
  • Common mistakes: One of the most common reasons for a flat battery are easy mistakes we’re all guilty of, like leaving your car headlights on overnight or forgetting to turn your internal lights off. Not securing the battery properly in the vehicle or getting the battery wet, are other reasons that can cause your battery to fail.
  • Charging faults: Loose connections or a faulty alternator are both problems which can cause a dead battery.

However, if your battery keeps dying persistently, it could mean there is a fault, and it may be time to invest in a new car battery. Book in for your free battery check at your local Merityre Specialists branch where we can diagnose your battery issues, and advise whether your battery needs repairing or replacing.

How to maintain your car battery

Just like any other car part, your car battery needs some TLC in order for it to function as it should. The best ways to maximise your car batteries life include.

  • Replace your car battery every four years: To ensure your vehicle runs properly, the general recommendation is that you change your car battery every four years. If you don’t do this, you are more likely to lose power mid-journey when you drive.
  • Check the acid level: Car battery load tests are usually carried out by mechanics, and they ensure your car battery is able to charge properly. You can book in for a battery load test today.
  • Check the water levels: If you notice the electrolyte level in your car battery is low, you should top it up with distilled water. It is important to only fill the cells which cover the plates - it is better to use a funnel bottle when adding water to control the flow of the water. After you have added water to your car battery, you should then recharge the battery.
  • Trickle charge your car battery: If you plan on not using your car battery for a long period of time, chances are that your car battery will drain. To prevent this, it is a good idea to trickle charge your car battery – as this will constantly feed your battery a low-level charge. You can trickle charge your battery by using a trickle car battery charger, all you have to do is follow manufacturer instructions.
  • Clean your car battery: Dirt is bad news for your battery - if it gets into the cells, it can cause corrosion on nearby metal, so it's important to clean the top of the battery and around the terminals.
  • Protect your car battery from extreme temperatures: Cold weather can drain your car battery - so it is important to utilise car battery heaters, not only do they keep car batteries warm, they also minimise the power your battery uses.

If your car battery is in need of repairing or replacing, do not hesitate to contact our helpful team. Better yet, find a local Merityre garage near you and pop in for a free battery health check today.

When to replace my car battery

If your car is struggling to perform tasks that use power from the battery, it’s a good time to get it checked. Signs your battery might be failing include;

  • Dashboard – if your car battery is flat, an illuminated battery symbol will appear on the dashboard of your vehicle. Familiarise yourself with the symbol (likely to be a rectangular battery with a plus and minus either side, and a lightning bolt in the middle) as this is the best indicator that your car battery has died.
  • Car won’t start – another common way to suggest your car battery has become flat is if your vehicle won’t start, or it may take longer to start. However, it’s likely you’ll only have a couple of these warnings before your car battery dies completely. If your battery is completely flat, your vehicle will not be able to start at all – and you will just hear a clicking noise instead.
  • Electric controlled elements not working in the vehicle – such as windows, radio, lights and air conditioning, as this is all controlled by the car’s battery. If your battery is failing, this may affect these elements slightly – such as causing your headlights to appear dimmer.

If your car battery has died, there are ways to boost it back to life again – such as jump starting your vehicle. However, visit our dedicated batteries page for more information on replacement or repair of your current car battery.

It’s important to get your battery checked if you notice any signs of it failing. At Merityre, our battery checks are completely free of charge and it takes just seconds to find your nearest branch. So, if you have any concerns about your battery, get it checked with our friendly team today!