Since the early 1980s, with the introduction of envelope separators and improved grid plate designs, studies of waste batteries have shown average battery life in non-cyclic engine starting applications in northern climates such as Canada to be approximately 59 months in new vehicles. This number has remained fairly constant over the past 25 years, with some studies showing that the average age of “old batteries” is as high as 64 months in the same climates.
This longer life may be due to the introduction of smaller engines, geared starters, and fuel injection systems that reduce the demands placed on engine starting batteries. However, this trend of increasing life has come to an end.
With the introduction of start-stop battery systems in vehicles over the past few years, we have seen a dramatic decrease in battery life in all climates, with the average battery life in these cars with start-stop systems being only 24 months.
The problem with this app is that the average starter battery now has to do double duty: not only does it provide engine start, but it now has to power the entire electrical load of the car when the engine is off, which means it’s not running. longer starting battery, but also a deep cycle battery.
To remedy this, manufacturers have introduced AGM (Absorbed Glass Material) batteries, which are designed to withstand increased cycling requirements. AGM batteries are also maintenance-free, which means they eliminate the need to maintain battery electrolyte levels, which is helpful since batteries are often located deep in the engine or in the cabin that is difficult to access.
Another new technology on the market today is the introduction of EFBs, or advanced flooded batteries, which are designed to provide engine starting functions and are also able to withstand hundreds of cycles to meet the demands of start-stop systems.
To ensure maximum battery life in such applications, batteries should be replaced with the correct type as soon as they fail. Automotive industry experts report that up to 38% of replacement batteries in start-stop vehicles today are replaced with the wrong type of battery. In many cases, consumers choose to replace AGM or EFB batteries with traditional standard batteries due to cost, hence these traditional starter batteries will not work in these applications further shortening life and increasing battery replacement costs over the life of the vehicle.
To ensure that start-stop vehicles will operate as designed, users and installers should be aware that these start-stop applications require a replacement battery manufactured using the same technology recommended by the manufacturer, to make the car perform the way it was designed.