You’d be hard-pressed to find many motorists excited at the prospect of winter driving. Poor traction and freezing temperatures can spell disaster for the ignorant or unprepared. And while many of us pat ourselves on the back for upgrading to winter tires, buying new wipers, or replacing car fluids, there’s one realm we almost always ignore until it’s too late: the car battery. Oh, we’re not talking about those cheapie jumper cables you tossed in your car survival kit. Those are a last-ditch resort and won’t help when you’re stranded on the side of a desolate back road. We’re talking about the proper routine maintenance and charging of your car battery, and a portable battery charger that will help you weather even the toughest winter storms.
To better explain this often-overlooked necessity, we consulted Bobbie DuMelle, Executive VP of CTEK North America. As a leading manufacturer of high-tech battery chargers, the company is qualified to discuss the importance of external chargers, as well as what separates CTEK and its revolutionary MXS 5.0 Smart Charger from the competition.
First Things First
Before we explore exactly what keeps CTEK at the forefront of battery technology, it’s important to understand some of the challenges that motorists face in car battery management. Especially, those issues they may not even realize they’re combating.
“Our research suggests that as many as 1 in 3 vehicles arriving in service centers and workshops have a battery that requires attention,” says DuMelle. “That’s a lot of vehicles on the road with a battery that could fail at any time. So, it’s no surprise that in the US, battery-related breakdowns are one of the biggest reasons people call for roadside assistance.”
Aside from age and poor maintenance, seasonal temperatures are obviously an enormous factor in the longevity of car battery life. “Battery performance can reduce by 35% when temperatures hit freezing and fall by as much as 50% if temperatures go even colder,” says DuMelle. Additionally, “at freezing temperatures an engine’s starting power requirement can increase by as much as 250% when compared to that of a summer’s day. [And] with additional drains on the battery—e.g. heated screens and seats, headlights, and an increase in short journeys during the winter, the battery is being placed under a huge amount of strain. It’s no wonder the roadside assistance companies are busy,” she adds.
But DuMelle points out a fact that may come as a surprise to most car owners. “If you live in a hotter climate state, your battery actually has a lower life expectancy! Surprising isn’t it? While freezing weather brings out the weaknesses in a battery, it’s actually hot weather that causes a significant reduction in battery life. In fact, a battery in Florida can expect to have about one half of the service life of a comparable battery in a cold climate like Illinois.”
Simply put, heat facilitates evaporation. And as battery fluid dries out, so does power output. Additionally, DuMelle explained to us that summer temperatures can also hide car battery problems. Problems that will then arise on a frigid January morning when you’re already running late for work. While high temperatures can damage a battery, the warmth in the surrounding air can keep it functioning well enough that there is no noticeable drop in capability. “So it’s not until the cold weather strikes that you realize you have a problem,” she says. “It’s important therefore to regularly check the state of the battery all year round.”
The Answer? A CTEK MXS 5.0 Portable Charger
This is where a product like the MXS 5.0 comes in handy. Offering a unique eight-step approach to battery care, the MXS 5.0 tests car battery condition and then charges it according to a built-in automatic temperature sensor. This means that “the charger will continually adjust the charge rate depending on ambient temperature to achieve maximum charge levels, without risk of over-charging or ‘cooking’ the battery that would reduce battery life even further,” explains DuMelle. So whether you live in the sunny south or chilly north, you can rest assured that your vehicle is receiving the proper charge.
The important thing to remember, however, is that a CTEK portable car battery charger does more than simply bail you out when the snowball hits the fan. These products provide routine charging maintenance. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Isn’t that my alternator’s job?” Well, yes, essentially. But every day production cars get more complex and more connected, and all those gizmos and gadgets put some serious strain on your battery. Your alternator can only provide so much juice when its combating heated seats, windshield wipers, radio play, a navigation system, phone charging, high beams, and a cushy dual climate control—in addition to all the other electrical functions necessary to actually move the car.
Routine Car Battery Maintenance is Key
Utilizing a product like the MXS 5.0. charger will not only ensure that your car battery is in tip top shape, it will keep it there. Monitoring the battery throughout charging, the CTEK MXS 5.0 automatically adjusts based on the battery’s condition. Additionally, “included in the eight steps are desulphation and reconditioning phases that can restore discharged batteries to peak condition. Each stage ensures that any lead-acid battery is optimally conditioned, charged and maintained,” says CTEK’s website.
CTEK understands that car battery maintenance can be intimidating. That’s why the MXS 5.0 (and indeed most of the CTEK product lineup) offer a simple Connect and Forget plug and play operation. “For us, the ‘voice of the customer’ strongly drives what we do,” says DuMelle. “We work really hard to understand the needs of the end-user whether that’s undertaking face-to-face interviews, spending time with technicians in the workshop or reading reviews, forums or blog posts online. This invaluable insight drives our research and development – we are an enabler and our mission is to make life simpler for our customers and ensure they are never out of power.”
“CTEK products supply private label chargers to over 40 of the biggest and most prestigious vehicle manufacturers in the world,” adds DuMelle, who asserts that such success is owed to a consumer-oriented emphasis on quality, safety, and performance.
So, don’t let winter get the best of you this year. Plan ahead and check out CTEK’s website for more information on tips to keep your car battery living longer and healthier in all seasons.