Today's challenges to the battery in the workshop
Challenges relating to batteries in the modern workshop and how to achieve 100% reliability.
Modern cars have such high energy requirements that the alternator cannot compensate for the power drained off if the vehicle is mainly used to make short journeys. The result is a negative charge balance after each journey, which can lead to battery problems down the line. At colder times of the year this can lead to problems with starting and battery failure.
If the car is not used for long periods, such as during holidays or long business trips, the battery may discharge due to consumers that are on standby.
Because of this, modern cars need a substantial top-up charge whenever they come into the workshop, allowing the vehicles to receive the maximum possible power boost within the limited time the vehicle is in for servicing. This considerably reduces starting problems and long-term damage due to sulphation and greatly increases customer satisfaction with the vehicle make and the workshop.
Most modern vehicles come into the workshop for servicing with a depleted battery. This is because today's driving patterns, frequently typified by short journeys, mean the vehicle's high energy requirements cannot be met by the alternator.
During a service, the vehicle will normally be on the lifting platform with the doors and boot open and all the interior lights on. If work needs to be carried out on the interior that involves having the ignition or electronic systems switched on, the mechanics have to deal with even higher drains on an already depleted battery.
If there is no permanent power supply during the service, the battery will become further depleted. Problems with ignition are often encountered after repair work, or the customer drives off with a depleted battery and comes back a few days later with a complaint about the battery.
These days the electrical energy drawn by the vehicle power supply during diagnostics and repair work in the workshop is very important.
When updating software in the control device's flash memory, the power requirements are particularly high and a constant system voltage is essential. Updating the flash memory in the engine management system causes emergency running conditions of the engine to be simulated. These leave many electrical components on full power for the duration of the memory update.
With large engines, a 65 A current can be flowing for more than 90 minutes, whereas 45 A for 30 minutes is standard in smaller engines. If the vehicle voltage should fall below 12 V, the flash operation is cancelled automatically and must be started again from scratch.
If this happens it frequently causes irreparable damage to the control device. This will involve costs of €300 to €3,000 for a replacement part, not to mention all the time lost. Costs that, unfortunately, the workshop has to bear if no charger or the wrong charger is used during diagnostics or software updates.
New vehicles often have to travel a long way to reach their destination from the factory and, in many cases, the battery is in a poor state by the time the vehicle reaches the dealer. Handing the new vehicle over with the battery in this condition would inevitably lead to complaints. Servicing the battery before handing the vehicle over to the customer is standard procedure in most workshops.
Some automotive manufacturers program new vehicles with a basic factory setting that is only sufficient for the needs of the journey from the plant to the local dealer. Enabling and programming the entire on-board system to commission the vehicle does not take place until it gets to the dealer. If the vehicle voltage should fall below 12 V during programming, the flash operation is cancelled automatically and must be started again from scratch. In addition to time lost, this can lead to irreparable damage to the control device.
Before a vehicle is dispatched to the customer, many manufacturers put it through a standard workshop procedure in which all the important systems are tested one last time and the vehicle is cleaned. It is important to take extra care with the battery at this final stage as it may have become partially discharged during periods of inactivity or during a service.
Storage batteries often spend long periods in storage before being used. It is normal for batteries to lose some of their charge during storage. The battery will become more and more discharged and increasingly sulphated if not recharged promptly. In the worst case, damage to the battery is so severe that the only option is replacement, with unnecessary costs arising for a new battery.