Battery myths

FALSE 

You won’t fully recharge your battery by going for a drive, idling the engine, or going for a short stop-start trip. In fact, ‘surface’ charging or continuous undercharging will lower the capacity of the battery over time and shorten its life. You could also void the battery warranty by not recharging it correctly.

The only way to reliably restore a flat battery’s charge is to use an appropriate multi-stage battery charger. The charger voltage needs to be high enough to mix the battery acid evenly in the electrolyte to prevent ‘stratification’.

TRUE 

Batteries have a natural self discharge or internal chemical leakage; and today’s cars draw a tiny amount of power from the battery when not in use to keep all the electrical systems ‘alive’. Over time, the battery will become fully discharged if not driven. 

To avoid this happening, you can connect a maintenance charger to keep your battery in good condition.

FALSE

All major battery manufacturers produce calcium batteries. They contain calcium in both the positive and negative plates, with the benefit of a longer battery and shelf life, greater overcharge acceptance and an increase in available power. 

To further improve recharging, RACQ batteries have a high tin & silver content. This, along with world leading stamped and expanded grid technology, makes RACQ batteries perfectly suited to older and modern vehicles. 

Note: If your car has a low alternator charge rate, there may be a problem with the charging system. Get this checked by an RACQ approved auto electrician.

FALSE 

Most cars have on-board computers that run the electrics, steering, transmission and security systems. These systems require a continuous amount of power to operate. If you disconnect the battery, you might find that these systems don’t work even when you reconnect the battery. 

The best way to maintain a battery on extended holidays is to use a maintenance charger. It can be left connected for an indefinite period, ensuring your car battery remains fully charged while you are away.

TRUE

When a battery goes flat, the car’s alternator will try its hardest to recharge the battery. This added load on the engine uses more fuel.

FALSE

The only way to reliably check a maintenance free battery is to use an electronic tester. This reads the internal conductance of the plates and cells. RACQ Roadside Assistance patrols and RACQ battery stockists have these testers available.

TRUE

To prevent self-discharge, a maintenance free battery will benefit from servicing. A service should include: 
  • the terminals checked and cleaned
  • the alternator charge rate checked 
  • any corrosive build up on the outside of the battery removed and the terminals cleaned. 
Once discharged (flattened), maintenance free batteries should be recharged using an appropriate multi-stage battery charger.

FALSE

To replace lost water in batteries use distilled, deionised or demineralised water. In an urgent situation, use rain water from a clean container – this has less impurities than tap water.  Tap water can produce mineral build up that blocks the pores and coats the plates of the battery. 

If the cell plates have been exposed, they can dry out and fail. So, if you’re having to top up water, it’s a good idea to recharge and test the battery at the same time. 

Note: batteries that have run out of water are not covered under the battery warranty.

FALSE 

Most cars’ electrical systems are designed around a specific size battery; and the vehicle computer systems regulate the power required for normal operation. Generally, the electrical system will only use a fixed amount of power from the battery based on the requirements of the starter motor and electrical system. A larger CCA battery supplies only what is required. 

While it won’t damage your car, using batteries with a higher or lower capacity can affect the performance of the car.

TRUE

Most cars need battery power at all times. By disconnecting the battery, the computer which controls the idle speed can lose its memory and will need to be reset by your mechanic. Likewise, if the car radio loses power it may trigger the security function and you’ll need to re-enter the security code. 

When replacing a battery, you need to use a ‘memory minder’ to ensure power is maintained. RACQ patrols use memory minders when replacing batteries.

FALSE

Batteries disintegrate over time as the acid causes the components to decay. How long a battery lasts depends on:
  • proper installation 
  • the climate in which the car operates
  • how often the car is used 
  • how regularly the battery and car are maintained. 
All RACQ batteries are guaranteed for the term of the warranty, providing you properly maintain your battery and regularly use your vehicle. Read our battery terms & conditions.

FALSE

Hot climates kill car batteries faster due to water loss, heat distortion and an increase in corrosion. If you have a low maintenance battery, it is important to ensure it is topped up with electrolyte, heat shields are replaced and batteries are kept in full state of charge.

All RACQ batteries are maintenance free batteries, with a larger electrolyte reservoir to combat water loss. They are ideal for Queensland’s hot climate

FALSE

Unsecured batteries can cause damage to themselves and other parts of the engine. At worst, they can ‘short out’ on metal under the bonnet and cause a fire or explosion – so it is very important to secure them using proper brackets and clamps. It is important for your safety to ensure the battery is properly secured at all times.

TRUE

All battery terminals corrode over time due to electrolysis. This occurs when current is passed through the dissimilar metals used in the battery posts and terminals. Poor battery connections can lead to a vehicle breakdown – so it is important to have the terminals cleaned at every service. Remember, when disconnecting terminals always use a ‘memory minder’ to keep the car’s electrical system powered up.

FALSE

The battery or ‘power’ light comes on when there is a problem with the car’s charging system, and tells you that the car is running on battery power alone. If you keep driving with the battery light on, the car will eventually breakdown – and you could cause costly damage to the car’s electrical system. It’s likely you’ll need a new alternator, which RACQ Car Electrics can help with.

FALSE

By connecting them the wrong way, you affected the polarity of the electric current – causing the current to flow in ‘reverse’ polarity. This can damage sensitive electrical components, destroy fuses and potentially cause an explosion from the battery. It is important for your safety to ensure the battery is connected the right way at all times.

FALSE

You should always buy a battery for the application it’s being used for. A marine battery is designed to handle the conditions of a vessel operating in rough conditions over water. They also have a semi deep cycle feature, which allows them to run accessories and safety devices for a period of time and then be recharged. It is important for your safety to use a marine battery on marine vessels.

FALSE 

Using a car battery to run a fridge will reduce the life of the battery and it will eventually fail. A car battery is designed to produce a large amount of current over a very short period of time to start a vehicle. Once started, the alternator tops up the battery power used. 

To run a fridge, use a deep cycle battery. It’s designed to produce a small amount of power over a long period of time. Usually rated in Amp Hours, it can be drained and then recharged.