Good Practices for Commercial Vehicle Battery Maintenance

As many as 80% of roadside breakdowns are caused by battery-related issues, such as discharged batteries. To help commercial vehicle workshop managers improve their battery management processes to reduce this statistic, we’ve put together our top three best practice tips to for maintaining the battery in a commercial vehicle.

These practices help to ensure vehicles leave the workshop with charged batteries, prepared for the road and journey ahead. The following practices also make sure batteries are tested correctly and free from defects.

1. Understand the battery type

Understanding which type of battery a commercial vehicle has is imperative to make sure battery test results accurately diagnose a potential defect. Modern vehicles typically have the following battery types:

Absorbent Glass Matt Batteries (AGM) – A lead acid battery that is suitable for large vehicles that experience higher consumer loads (including appliances and electronics), start/stop functions or tail lifts.

Flooded Batteries – The standard “wet-cell” technology allows for deep cycling applications, meaning the battery is designed to discharge slowly over a long period of time. They operate through the use of a liquid electrolyte that covers internal plates, allowing electrical charges to pass within the battery.  

Enhanced Flooded Batteries (EFB) – Designed for stop/start applications, EFB batteries are common in commercial vehicles as they are suitable for heavy-use applications. EFB batteries have improved charge acceptance in comparison to standard Flooded technology.

To avoid battery misdiagnosis, which cost workshops time, money, and reputations, make sure the battery tester you buy is capable of testing and charging the correct battery type within a chosen vehicle or fleet.

We recommend the Midtronics EXP1000FHD battery tester for commercial workshops, due to its ability to charge 24v battery sets or two 12v batteries at once. We also recommend the Midtronics CXPRO 50/2 charger, as it can charge two 12v batteries at the same time and is suitable for AGM and Flooded battery types.

2. Test and charge batteries on entering the workshop

A commercial workshop with a good battery maintenance process will test and charge a battery upon entering to a workshop, with the most up-to-date, correct battery equipment.

By avoiding or skipping testing, vehicles could leave the workshop with undetected defects that cause roadside breakdowns and non-starts during the day to day operations.  As many as 80% of roadside breakdowns are caused by battery related issues, such as discharged batteries.  

Battery testers and chargers should be readily available for technicians to make sure they are able to test and charge every vehicle entering the workshop. The number of testers and chargers needed is dependent on the size of the workshop, but as a general rule, we recommend chargers should be available in each bay, and testers should be reasonably spaced out amongst technicians.

Just like a vehicle, battery maintenance equipment should also be serviced regularly. We recommend Midtronics and CTEK battery testers and chargers are calibrated annually, to make sure the equipment is undamaged and is operating with the most up-to-date software. If battery equipment is faulty, it may fall underneath a manufacturer’s warranty, and an up to date service and calibration will support workshop’s with warranty claims. Learn more about battery servicing.

3. Keep 24v battery sets balanced

Balancing the 12v batteries within a 24v battery set is crucial to make sure commercial vehicles remain on the road and at a lower risk of potential non-starts or breakdowns.

There's simply no other way to make sure that a battery set is balanced other than by regular testing and charging.

If an unbalanced battery is left undiagnosed, the life span can be reduced by up to 50%, increasing commercial workshop battery replacement costs.

Typically, a battery set can become unbalanced in as little as six months. If each battery is exhibiting different voltages and cranking amps, they will work inefficiently as a pair.

The Rotronics team are able to support commercial workshops interested in a bespoke battery management programme designed with specific battery types and problems in mind.

Simply call 0121 514 0605, or visit our other battery tips here.  

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