Car battery myths
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Car battery myths

Everyone who has a car has a different understanding of their battery, how it works and how it can be charged. Daks Toyota explored a long list of car battery myths so you’re not left wondering what’s true and what isn’t.

Myths about flat batteries

[toggle title=”
I left my car lights on for a few hours and now the battery is totally flat. A half hour should charge it up. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.
Here’s why: Going for a drive or idling the engine for a while won’t fully recharge your battery – and it could lower the capacity of your battery over time.
What to do: When a fully discharged (flat) battery needs to be recharged, the only way to reliably restore (without shortening its life) the battery is to use a compatible multi-stage battery charger. Not only will you prolong the life of your battery, you will also save fuel by using a proper multi-stage charger to restore the battery to full charge.

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[toggle title=”I don’t drive my car that often and sometimes I go away for several weeks. My battery often goes flat – but I guess that’s normal when the car is not driven. True or false?”]
Our verdict: TRUE.

Here’s why: Your battery will naturally lose power over time. Even when you’re not using your car, a little bit of battery power will be used to keep your car’s electrical system going.

What to do: Drive your car regularly (or ask someone to) or connect to a battery charger while you’re away.
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[toggle title=”A flat battery can affect my fuel economy. True or false?”]
Our verdict: TRUE.

Here’s why: Your car’s alternator will work harder to try to recover your battery when it goes flat. This adds extra load to your engine which makes it use more fuel.

What to do: Keep your battery charged and replace it with a new one at the end of its life.
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Myths about how your car battery works

[toggle title=”I should disconnect my car battery when I go away on holidays. True or false?
“]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: On certain cars if you disconnect your battery it could damage your car’s computer systems which can lead to problems with your engine, steering, transmission and security system. There’s also a chance you won’t be able to start your car when you do reconnect it.

What to do: If your battery is fully charged, it will last several weeks without you using your car. If you’re going away for a while, use a high quality maintenance charger. You can leave these on for indefinite periods to keep your battery charged.
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[toggle title=”I’ve heard that the bigger the cold cranking amps (CCA), the better the battery. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: Your car is designed to use a certain size battery to match your starter motor and electrical system. Using a larger or smaller CCA battery than you need can lower the lifespan of your battery.

What to do: Use the right sized battery for your car.
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[toggle title=”My battery is showing a low water level and the plates are exposed. I can just top it up with normal tap water. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: Tap water could cause a build-up of minerals that could block the pores and coat the plates of your battery.

What to do: Only use distilled, deionised or demineralised water. Only use clean rainwater or good quality tap water if it’s urgent and the cell plates have been exposed for a while. If your car battery has run out of water it’s probably not covered under your warranty, so it’s a good idea to recharge and test your battery before it goes flat.
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Myths about replacing your car battery

[toggle title=” I bought and replaced my car battery. I think that might be why my car won’t idle and the radio display says ‘CODE’ and doesn’t work. True or false?”]
Our verdict: TRUE.

Here’s why: Most cars need to have power all the time. Disconnecting your battery yourself can reset the security systems and security codes in your car.

What to do: Your security code is probably on a card somewhere with your manual. If you can’t find it, you might need to contact your car dealer or have it reprogrammed. All of our RAC Battery Technicians carry the necessary tools and information to help you get back on the road quickly.

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Myths about the life of your car battery

batteries

[toggle title=”My first car had a battery that lasted 6 years. I should get the same life out of my new battery? True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: Your new car probably has a lot of technology your old car didn’t have, such as your security system, sound system, GPS, DVD players and other features. As your car gets older, the different parts of your car will age too and put more strain on your battery.

What to do: Read our tips on how to take care of your battery, keep it properly charged and have it replaced when you need it.
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[toggle title=”Batteries last longer in hot climates than cold. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: It’s actually the other way around. Car batteries last longer in cold climates because hot climates cause water loss.

What to do: Keep an eye on your car battery’s water levels, especially over WA’s hot summer months.
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[toggle title=”My battery went flat a few months ago and since then I’ve had to jump start my car a few times. My battery is less than 12 months old but must be faulty. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: Driving around won’t help to fully charge your battery after being jump-started. Chances are, it’s still in good condition but just needs to be recharged properly.

What to do: Have your battery recharged properly with a charger and you’ll probably find it will become a reliable battery again. You might also want to have your charging system checked just in case there’s something else draining your battery.
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[toggle title=”I recently got my car serviced need a new battery. My old battery is still under warranty – so I should be able to claim a refund on the cost of the new battery. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: Your old battery would need to be tested at the supplier you bought it from before you buy another one, depending on the terms of your warranty.

What to do: If your car battery stops working and is still under warranty, contact your battery supplier first. They’ll test the battery for you and if it’s faulty they’ll replace it for you according to your warranty.
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[toggle title=”It is normal for some batteries to last less than 18 months. True or false?”]
Our verdict: TRUE.

Here’s why: All batteries have a limited life. The life of your battery will depend on the weather extremes, where you drive, how often you drive and how well you look after your battery and your car.

What to do: Find out how to look after your car battery and keep your car in good condition with regular servicing.
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[toggle title=”I can’t use a calcium battery in my older car because my alternator has a lower output charge rate. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: Calcium in the positive and negative plates makes the battery more resilient and allows it to have a higher output. The calcium raises internal resistance and is suited to higher charge rates.

What to do: Calcium batteries have a higher output and can be used in all vehicles. You can use a suitable charger to maintain the battery if it’s flat or not used often.
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Myths about your maintenance-free car battery

[toggle title=”My first car had a battery that lasted 6 years. I should get the same life out of my new battery? True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: Your maintenance-free battery is sealed. It has a bigger reservoir of electrolytes and recycles these within your battery.

What to do: Protect the life of your battery and don’t use a hydrometer on your maintenance-free battery. Have your battery terminals checked and cleaned regularly.
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[toggle title=”I don’t need to do anything with my maintenance-free battery. It looks after itself. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: All batteries need to be checked regularly.

What to do: Have your battery terminals checked and cleaned to get rid of any corrosive build-up and check that your battery is secure within your vehicle. At your next service, get your alternator charge rate checked to ensure it is delivering enough charge to your battery.
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Other myths about your car battery

[toggle title=”I’ve lost the hold-down bracket for my battery but I don’t need to clamp it because it’s sitting in place and staying there. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: If your battery is left loose, engine vibrations can cause it to lose power. It could also leak and damage your engine, parts or paintwork. In some cases, your loose battery could even short out and cause a fire or explosion in your engine.

What to do: Make sure your battery is properly secured with hold-down brackets and clamps as outlined in your manufacturer’s guidelines.
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[toggle title=”My battery terminals tend to get a white powdery build-up, so my mechanic sprayed some blue stuff over them and said they won’t need any more cleaning. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: All battery terminals need to be cleaned to keep the connections strong and slow down the process of corrosion that naturally happens over time.

What to do: Keep your battery terminals clean. The best time to do this is at your next service to ensure any electrical systems are not damaged when the terminals are disconnected.
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[toggle title=”The battery light has come on, my battery must be faulty. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: The battery light is there to show you when your car is running on the power of your battery alone, without the back-up of the charging system. In older cars it was called the alternator light.

What to do: Don’t keep driving your car when the battery light comes on, because eventually you will run out of battery power. Get your car’s charging system checked as soon as possible.
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[toggle title=”I can use a car battery to run my boat. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: You need a specially designed marine battery which is designed to be used in rough conditions and in water.

What to do: Buy a marine battery for your boat and only use a car battery in your car.
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[toggle title=”I’m going camping. I can us a car battery to run the fridge in my caravan. True or false?”]
Our verdict: FALSE.

Here’s why: A car battery is designed to produce a large current in a very short time to get your car started before your alternator takes over. Using a car battery to run a fridge will ruin the battery.

What to do: Get a deep cycle battery to run your fridge. These are designed to produce a small amount of power over a long period of time.
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