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Image Gallery: Batteries The battery is the silent powerhouse behind your car's engine -- but it has a limited lifespan. In fact, depending on where you live and how you drive, the condition of your charging system, and a number of other factors, a battery lasts about four years on average.
While the lead-acid car battery hasn't changed much in the last 100 years, it's still a difficult part of the car to check during routine maintenance. So the rule of thumb is simple for battery replacement: You have approximately four years before the battery will theoretically begin its slide from chemical powerhouse to chemical paperweight. But due to the nature of the chemical cocktail inside any battery, it may give out before the four year mark, or maybe it will last for several more years. Any actual physical damage to the body of the battery means that you should replace the entire unit at your earliest possible opportunity. In order to make sure your battery is in good condition you should check the top of your battery for dirt and electrolyte. That’s why we always do an alternator test to be sure that the alternator is putting out enough power to keep your battery charged. Your battery provides required power to maintain the operation of accessories when the car engine is turned off. The battery also supplements the power from the charging system during periods of high demand – like when you’re stuck in traffic with your headlights, wipers and blower motor all running! The voltage regulator controls the voltage, keeping it within the proper operating range of your car’s entire electrical system. The starting system on your car includes the ignition switch, the starter relay or solenoid and the starter motor.
Like any other vital system in your vehicle, your car battery requires regular maintenance in order to remain in good working condition.
Car batteries do not last forever, and it is most likely that you will need to replace a battery on a car you own at some time. Here is a typical layout, highlighting the car battery and battery clamp along with the red and black battery terminals. Sometimes the car battery will have a cover over it so you cannot see the red and black terminals.
Most car batteries are clamped securely into place within the engine bay.  These clamps will need to be removed in order the get the battery out. You can walk into most shops and tell them the make, model and year of your car and they will be able to provide you with the correct battery. You can do the same when you buy online, choose a reputable website and enter your car details and then you should get a price back. IMPORTANT – never fit a smaller battery than was originally fitted by the manufacturer, it will not last and you will be asking for trouble.
For example, diesel engines normally need more current from the battery to start the engine than petrol engine cars.
The video below will take you through the steps of changing your car battery and show you the tools that you need. You can use normal vaseline on your battery terminals to prevent corrosion instead of lithium grease. It is always best to get your battery changed if you are in any doubt about how well it is working.  Get it changed before it completely dies and causes you loads of trouble. Tesla Motors - Model S lithium-ion battery packEnlarge PhotoYou hear both sides of the battery cost question a lot when you cover electric cars.

It's often said, "There's no Moore's Law for electric cars"--meaning that lithium-ion battery cells do not double in performance every 18 months, as processor speeds have done. Instead, the best proxy is to look to the consumer lithium-ion cell maket, now more than 20 years old. The small commodity cells in your mobile phone and portable computers are now just a fraction of the cost of the first lithium-ion cells that Sony launched in a 1989 video camera. Averaged over that time, the rate of performance increase has averaged 6 to 8 percent a year. It hasn't been linear, with improvements in both cell chemistry and process technology leading to notable declines once volume production is achieved, followed by a cost plateau.
But we've talked to half a dozen cell makers over the last 18 months, and all of them accepted a 6-to-8-percent annual performance improvement as appropriate for the large-scale automotive cells used by every plug-in carmaker except Tesla Motors. A 2010 National Academy of Sciences report estimated pack costs then at $625 to $850 per kilowatt-hour. Those numbers tie neatly to estimates by clean-tech market intelligence firm Pike Research--contained in Electric Vehicle Batteries, a very pricey report--that the installed cost of lithium-ion batteries will fall by more than one-third by the end of 2017.
Pike also projects that the market for such batteries will grow from $2.0 billion last year to almost $15 billion by 2017.
Even better, the technology magazine Tech Review (registration required) analyzed Li-ion cell cost projections through 2020 from a variety of sources, including financial institutions, industry analysts, and electrification groups.
The actual cost of lithium-ion battery packs is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the electric-car world. That's why a statement by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk that cell cost would go below $200 per kilowatt-hour "in the not-too-distant future" made such news last month. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says that for his company, it will be in 2016, when the Nissan-Renault Alliance can make up to 1 million battery electric vehicles a year.
Meanwhile, if you hear someone say that electric cars will plummet in cost just next year, raise your eyebrows. And do the same if you hear elsewhere that plug-in cars will never be practical, because batteries will cost "tens of thousands of dollars" for the next 20 years. They do their job regardless of heat, cold weather and the drivers who demand so much of them. Simple battery testers can't, at this time, muddle through the chemical complexity of what goes on in a battery. At the four year mark, start watching, and hope your mechanic will detect a problem before it's too late. Whilst a failing battery will not generally result in your car breaking down on the road, it will prevent your vehicle from being started.
Damaged batteries can leak in the engine and corrode other parts, so any sign that the battery’s casing is not in good condition should be taken seriously.
Too much electrolyte on the top of the battery is usually caused by overfilling and is not a cause for concern – rather a sign that you should be more careful next time you fill your battery.
As these batteries use a mix of water and acid in the cells to form the electrolyte the water can evaporate during the summer months. Usually you will only have to add distilled water to the battery and if you see that a cell has run completely dry then you should check the battery to make sure there are no cracks in the casing. If you constantly need to jump-start your car, especially when it’s cold, you probably need your car battery replaced.
These three components of the starting system consume more electrical power than any other system on your car.

CCA or Cold Cranking Amps is a measurement to assure that your car battery had sufficient energy to crank the engine over when it’s cold. Our Silver Spring auto repair facility offers a full range of top quality auto maintenance and repair services, and we will make sure that all of your car’s systems are in great shape. Vaseline works just as well and will keep your terminals dirt and corrosion free meaning better conduction. If we assume that the 2011 Chevrolet Volt's 16-kWh pack cost roughly $750 per kilowatt-hour (or about $12,000), then we can project the two rates of decline. We've not found a single maker willing to go on record and say what their cost per kilowatt-hour is.
In general, the pack adds another 15 to 20 percent on top of the cost of the cells themselves. While a battery that allows a car start at the first turn of the key is a joyful thing, it doesn't last forever. Instead, they provide a sort of snapshot of the battery at the time it's being tested -- without the context of the battery's chemical composition before or after the test. We’d always advise that you do a quick visual inspection of your battery any time you open the bonnet of your car to check the oil, top up brake fluid or refill the car’s water tank. Equally you should replace frayed, worn or broken cables as soon as possible as these are a vital part of the engine’s starting system, carrying the charge that’s used to start the combustion process. However, you will need to remove any dirt from the top of the battery as this can form an electrical bridge that can cause the battery to discharge when the vehicle is at a standstill.
Also never add acid to a cell that already contains electrolyte – this can damage the electrical balance of the battery and cause failure. Did you know that a bad alternator that’s not properly charging your car battery could cause this problem? Drawing on your car battery, the starter motor turns the engine over or cranks it until your car starts. If the battery charge is low, this loss of charge could be the result of low battery fluid, excessive heat, or corrosive build up on the surface the battery.
To make an appointment for your vehicle today, give us a call at (240) 450-2712 or contact us online. This way you should be able to anticipate any problems with the battery before they happen, preventing that awkward moment in the morning where your car won’t start. Finally take a look at the fixings for the battery – any looseness could allow the battery to vibrate and the connections could be dislodged. Use a screwdriver to pull of the cell cover to inspect the electrolyte levels – this should be well above the plates. To ensure that your battery is in great working order, you can clean any corrosive material off of the surface of your battery using a soft brush. You can also protect your battery from the strain of excessive heat by covering it with a specially designed insulator. If the fluid does not reach this level then you should add distilled water – not tap water due to impurities within the liquid – to bring it up to the normal required level.
When you add the water only use a plastic container or funnel as a metal one could touch the plates and cause the battery to discharge rapidly, which could injure you.

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