*I know, I’m sorry.. I really must work on these Tabloid-esque titles..
When I took the Pig for its MOT earlier in the year, I have to admit I was surprised at the high number of Miles I had covered in the year since its last; some 3,500. Given the restrictive measures we have all be subjected to, it’s no surprise that second Cars haven’t made it out on to the Blacktop that frequently since the first Lockdown was enforced. Nevertheless, batteries have kept Alarms, Immobilisers and Clocks powered without any return for their efforts on the short runs, of necessity and propinquity, that were permitted.
As a result of this, my Battery died. In fact, it died so spectacularly that once it had reached its charge nadir, its Polarity reversed potentially damaging components of the car’s electrical system; solenoids, fuses and bulbs et cetera.
Batteries have kept Alarms, Immobilisers and Clocks
powered without any return for their efforts
So how does this happen..? And can it be prevented..? To answer these questions, I need to do my best Tony Hirst impersonation and enrol you all in a Crash Course on How a Battery Works..
What is a Battery..?
A Battery is a device that translates Chemical Energy into Electrical Energy.
How does it Work..?
The majority of Car Batteries use a Lead / Acid Chemical Reaction. Each of the [usually] 6 Cells in a Car Battery features two plates; one made from Lead and the other from Lead Dioxide.
These plates are submerged in Sulphuric Acid, which acts as a Catalyst triggering a Chemical Reaction between them. This Chemical Reaction produces Electrons, which generate Electricity.
This Chemical Reaction is reversible, which is why your battery recharges as your engine runs, and why you can Jump Start it when it is Flat.
Why does a Battery go Flat..?
When you use the Battery to start your Car, you put an enormous strain on it, taking out a lot of its stored Energy. Recharging it by driving is a slower process than the one that uses the Energy, hence short journeys use up more Energy than is replaced.
So how can I look after it..?
Glad you asked, the most obvious way would be to ensure that when you take your Car out, it is for a journey time of at least 30 minutes. This seems to be the time it takes to put back in what you take out.
Other tips include ensuring that, when you turn the Key to Ignition:
- No other Electrical Components are turned on e.g. Stereo, Lights, Windscreen Wipers, Heater Fans etc.
- Depressing the Clutch Pedal can reduce the strain on the Starter Motor, hence Battery.
Battery maintenance can play a part in longevity too, by ensuring the Terminals Connections are tight, and that the Battery Terminals themselves are clean of debris and dirt. Or dirt and debris, whichever.
Sounds good, so why did yours die..??
Okay, I will admit that perhaps I didn’t heed the Warning Signs that my Battery was dying a very slow and painful Death. Ignition had started to crank over a little slower than usual, and yes, there were times [especially during 2020] when the Battery had Died and a Jump Start was required.. I invested in a Charger, the decision making process of which requires an essay of its own since the marketplace has many options, and countless more opinions.
Either way, one March morning I sat in the 968, ready to reverse it out of the Garage, turned the Key and was met with only the rapid ticking of an Ignition System suffering a Flat Battery. Again. Opening the Rear Hatch, I connected my Portable Jump Battery to the Car’s Battery Terminals, returned to the Cabin, turned the Key; nothing.
Connecting the Battery Charger up, I was greeted with an Alert notifying me that there was a Reversed Polarity detected. I disconnected the Charger immediately. Quick search of the hallowed Rennlist forum and I found a Thread about this very issue.
When a Battery reaches it’s very lowest charge, to the extent that there is no charge at all, it is possible for the Polarity to reverse. I haven’t been able to find any supporting scientific documentation, but experience of it is unquestionable. It might be a very rare occurrence, but nevertheless it can occur.
I pulled the Battery, and rather that try to revive it [dangerously] as well as seeing the year 2007 helpfully scribbled on top of it, I figured it was time for a new one.
Like for like, and at a very reasonable £83 Delivered.
Slot in, Connect up, Fire Up; Job done..
I put a thin layer of firm packing foam underneath the Battery, just to stop any potential rattling. Oh, and I scribbled the Month and Year on top too. I took the old Battery to my local Halfords who were happy to dispose of it for me, a great service.
Clock set and Stereo Code entered, I hung the Keys of the 968 on the Hook and didn’t drive it for a fortnight. Excellent..
Surfer. Biker. Coder. Yota.