August 2018

Overdrive Magazine | Trucking Business News & Owner Operator Info

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38 | Overdrive | August 2018 W inter weather takes a lot of blame for battery failures, but the damage caused by hot-weather driving is often the primary culprit. Battery wear can go undetected for months, but routine checks can head off potential failures. "Generally, more damage is done to the battery during the summer," says Patrick McLaughlin, Exide Technologies product manager. "However, it may not be noticeable until the colder months, when the battery needs to work harder." Lead acid batteries, which are com- mon, have a higher discharge rate in elevated temperatures because the evaporation of electrolytes is accelerated, shortening service life. That's why many operators running trucks with auxiliary power units and other amenities have migrated to absorbed glass mat batteries, which feature both high cranking and deep-cycle power. They also are not sus- ceptible to electrolyte loss. "The electrolyte is absorbed by a very fine fiberglass mat, and the unit is sealed, eliminating the damage that can be caused from loss of electrolyte," says Alan Kohler, a marketing manager for EnerSys. "Sealed batteries don't openly vent, therefore they do not dry out." "If your cab is decked out with extra plug-ins and appliances, or if you are running AC when parked in a hot cli- mate, the AGM is probably the best choice," adds Interstate Batteries' Bob Gruenstern, a quality director. The leading cause of failure in cranking batteries is the degradation of the positive-grid current collectors inside each cell. Lead acid batteries use an oxidation-reduction reaction, which Gruenstern says oxidizes the positive grids as the battery charges. "Temperature is an accelerator to this corrosion process," he says. Even though a truck's batteries oper- ate nearly every major component on the vehicle, routine testing often is over- looked, Gruenstern says. "Optimally, you should inspect and test batteries regularly with every scheduled preven- Combating heat's toll on batteries BY JASON CANNON Testing a battery's voltage charge is the first step in assessing its health.

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