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9 Common Mistakes New Kenyan Drivers Make When Replacing Car Batteries

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Being a first-time car owner in Kenya comes with a lot of responsibilities, especially for non-car enthusiasts. It takes a lot of learning and understanding the details of what each part does and how to take care of the car.

For any fossil fuel vehicle, a battery is an essential component that the driver must take care of and understand its dimensions and capacity, especially when replacement is required.

One of the most dreaded moments is when a new driver jumps into a ready-to-drive car only to turn the ignition key but the engine won’t start.

When a jumpstart doesn’t provide the immediate solution, it’s time to buy a new battery. But, if you’re a new driver who doesn’t understand the process, you probably won’t be able to master the basics of battery replacement.

File photo of a car owner replacing a car battery

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Here are the common costly mistakes that new car owners always make.

Choosing the wrong type of battery

Most new drivers don’t understand that there are eight types of car batteries. Types include flooded lead-acid battery (wet cell), silver-calcium battery, enhanced flooded battery (EFB), gel battery (dry cell), lithium-ion battery (Li-Ion), and nickel battery – metal hydride.

To avoid making the mistake, new drivers are advised to consult the manual. It will be a complete waste if you buy the wrong battery for your vehicle.

The manual indicates which type your car needs.

Choosing the wrong battery size

Another key factor a new driver should consider is battery size. Batteries are divided into group sizes which indicate the length, width and height of the battery. You can find out the size of battery required by checking your owner’s manual or consulting your mechanic and then comparing the available options.

The right size battery is one that fits snugly into the battery holder securing the battery and preventing vibration damage.

Not understanding his spare capacity

This is how long the battery can run on its own without the motor and before discharging. Not choosing a battery with a high reserve capacity is detrimental to the car.

The importance of choosing a car with a high reserve capacity helps the car through difficult situations such as a non-compliant engine, alternator failure and accidentally leaving lights on.

Type and position of terminals

Most new drivers find it difficult to determine the terminal positions correctly, which is essential when replacing a battery. This process is essential because the position of the positive terminal affects the polarity of the car and there is a risk of a short circuit if the positive terminal comes into contact with the metal shell of the car.

It is therefore important for new car owners to check and understand which side the positive terminal is on whether it is on the right or on the left depending on the type of car.

Not checking warranties

A file image of parked luxury cars

A file image of parked luxury cars

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Without checking the right warranties and being a costly mistake for any car owner. It is advisable to consider warranties and choose a battery with a long free replacement period.

Warranty periods are measured by a figure combining the free replacement period and the prorated period. The pro-rated period allows for a partial refund of the purchase price of the battery for a limited time.

Failure to check the freshness of the battery before replacing it

Battery freshness is key in determining if you are choosing the right one for your car. Freshness is indicated by a code on the battery which consists of a letter and a number.

The letter represents the month while the number represents the year of manufacture. It is not recommended to purchase a battery older than six months from the date of its manufacture.

Choosing a battery with a bad power requirement

This point requires an understanding of some basic physical principles. Battery power requirements refer to cold cranking amps (CCA) and cranking amps (CA).

Cranking amperage is the energy required to start a vehicle in temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit, while cold cranking amperage indicates the battery’s ability to start a car at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. CCA applies to cold climates and batteries with a higher CCA are recommended.

Not understanding battery maintenance

Understanding battery maintenance is also a basic knowledge that every new driver lacks. To be aware of what is required, a new driver or car owner must understand two scenarios; low maintenance type and maintenance free type.

The maintenance-free car battery is usually sealed and the liquid electrolyte can work for the life of the battery without the need to replace it. Low maintenance batteries are unsealed with caps that allow you to occasionally add distilled water.

Battery life and Amp-hour (Ah)

You can check the life of your current battery at an auto parts store or battery specialist. This will help you know if you need a new battery or just a maintenance procedure.

Battery life also requires understanding ampere hours (Ah). This is the amount of electricity the battery can store (capacity). Higher Ah means the battery can hold a charge for a long time, reducing the chance of battery drain.

Knowing all the requirements before replacing a battery requires a new driver or car owner to properly go through the manual and make regular visits to a mechanic.

A newly imported Toyota Vitz

A newly imported Toyota Vitz.

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