Posted: Feb 12, 2014
Does my car need more than a jump-start?
My neighbor's car wasn't quite this bad off when I saw the Roadside Assistance van pull into his driveway the other day, but I had a feeling I knew what the problem was. A quick phone call confirmed they had a deeply-discharged battery on his mother-in-law's SUV and were receiving a jump-start to get it back on the road. When I asked if she needed to go somewhere right away, my neighbor told me that she had been out of town over the weekend and knew the battery was low, but didn't need the vehicle just yet.
I then quickly explained to him that jump-starting a vehicle is a good idea in an emergency situation, where someone needs to get somewhere (or off the roads) in the immediate future, but if time wasn't a concern, the battery should just be fully-charged with a battery charger. The Roadside Assistance worker suggested idling the vehicle in the driveway for 10 minutes. We know that won't put hardly any current into the battery, but it will give the vehicle's alternator quite a workout (and possibly lead to premature alternator failure). When I came over with a load tester and Digital 400 Charger and Maintainer, I found the battery was still good, but was deeply-discharged down to 5.4 volts, in spite of all that driveway idling.
I connected the Digital 400 and let it go to work and by the next morning, the battery was back to a 100% state of charge. What would've happened if he had let it idle in the driveway and called it a day? Roadside assistance probably would've been back out to his house again, this time perhaps suggesting a new battery or my neighbor asking them to bring out a replacement. It happens all the time and with the cold snap headed toward the Southeast today, we expect it will be happening to a lot of folks over the next few days.
The simple answer is a little preventative maintenance, but we often don't think about maintaining a battery until it doesn't do it's job. When was the last time you charged your battery with a battery charger? Fully-charged, most batteries, including the OPTIMA® REDTOP® will measure at least 12.6 volts. OPTIMA YELLOWTOP® batteries will measure about 13.0-13.2 volts. Keeping your battery fully-charged whenever possible will not only help maximize performance and lifespan, it will give you the best chance of having it work when you need it most!