Beach Benz

Servicing Mercedes Benz Exclusively for over 20 years

Make Your Battery Last

Today’s report from Beach Benz is on car batteries, why they die and what we can do to lengthen their life. Most of us have had a dead battery at one time or another. In fact, it would be very unusual if you hadn’t. You may be surprised to learn that only 30 percent of Huntington Beach vehicle batteries last for 48 months.

Now that’s an average. How long a battery lasts depends on many factors. You may not know that one of the biggest factors is the temperature where you live and drive around Huntington Beach. You might suppose that cold weather was harder on batteries because it takes more power to crank a cold engine, but the opposite is actually true.

For more information on your battery, please visit us:
Beach Benz
7492 Slater Ave
Huntington Beach, California 92647
714 842-9816

Batteries in very cold climates have a life expectancy of 51 months as opposed to 30 months in very warm climates. The reason is simple: batteries are chemically more active when they’re hot than when they’re cold.

A car battery will actually start to discharge on its own within 24 hours in hot weather. It takes several days in cold weather. When batteries are left too long in a state of partial discharge, the discharged portion of the battery plates actually, for the lack of a better word, ‘die’. Recharging the battery will not restore the dead part of the battery plate.

One of the big problems for the way most of us drive in the Huntington Beach area, is that our batteries are often partially discharged. The biggest job the battery does is to start the car. It takes some time for the alternator to recharge the battery after starting. If you’re driving short distances, especially if there are several starts and stops, your battery may not fully recharge.

Another issue is that vehicles are coming equipped with more and more electricity hungry accessories like navigation systems, DVD players, CD and MP3 players, heated seats, heated steering wheels and so on. And we often plug in cell phones, computers and other gadgets. Combine that with short trips and it’s no wonder that our batteries are partially discharged.

Experts say we can extend our battery life by topping off the charge periodically using a good quality battery charger. You may’ve heard these chargers referred to as ‘trickle chargers’. They’re attached to the battery and plugged into a wall outlet to slowly bring the battery up to full charge.

Now there’s some science involved with how fast a battery should be recharged. If you buy a cheap manual charger, you’ll have to tend it. Frankly a learning curve on how to do it right and requires much attention. A computer controlled charger – or smart charger – monitors the process and determines the appropriate rate of charge. And it even stops charging when it’s fully charged. It costs more than the manual charger, but the automatic model is worth it.

The suggestion is to charge once a month in warm weather and once every three months in cold weather.

Another thing to avoid is deeply discharging your battery. Something like running the headlights and stereo with the engine turned off. That’ll take months off the battery life every time you do it.

Now, as we discussed, heat is hard on a battery. A dirty, greasy battery holds more heat. You can wipe off excess dirt with a paper towel or ask your service advisor at Beach Benz to clean it for you. Beach Benz can even test your battery and tell you if it’s time to replace it.

Batteries are fairly expensive, so taking a few steps to make them last longer is well worth it. Of course, the battery will eventually need to be replaced. Always make sure you get a new battery that meets the factory specifications for your vehicle. If you feel you need more battery capacity than what came with your vehicle, talk with your service advisor at Beach Benz about appropriate upgrades.

If you have a dead battery, be careful to inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire. And deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles In Huntington Beach, California

Let’s talk about alternative fuel vehicles. In their quest to reduce the use of fossil fuels and harmful exhaust emissions in our Huntington Beach environment, automakers will have a number of alternatives for Huntington Beach auto owners very soon.

For instance, Flex Fuel vehicles are already available in the Fountain Valley area. Flex Fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on E85 fuel. E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The ethanol is made from corn.  The benefits to Huntington Beach motorists are in using less petroleum and reduced pollution. The drawbacks are that E85 gets lower fuel efficiency and that when gas prices are low, E85 can be more pricey than straight gasoline.

Huntington Beach drivers should only use E85 if they have a Flex Fuel compatible engine. Flex Fuel vehicles have special seals and gaskets that can stand up to the high alcohol content of E85. Using E85 in a regular engine can lead to gas leaks and fires.

Diesel engines have been around the Fountain Valley area for a long, long time. Modern diesels are very refined and fuel efficient. Diesel fuel can be made from renewable sources like vegetable oil, too. Diesel fuel from algae and sunlight is reported to be pretty close to being commercially viable.

There are also a number of natural gas vehicles on our Huntington Beach roads. Gasoline engines are adapted to run on compressed natural gas. It’s less expensive than gasoline and burns very cleanly. You can even refill it with a special pump from your gas line at home.

Natural gas engines don’t make as much power and don’t get as good gas mileage, but they cost Huntington Beach car owners less per mile to run. The big inconvenience is that the tank that holds the compressed natural gas takes up a lot of room; even your whole trunk! And there may not be places to refuel on a road trip from Huntington Beach to Fountain Valley.

Plug-in electric vehicles are now available in our Huntington Beach area. Battery technology is the limiting factor right now. Electric cars have a limited range and are really best for use close to home. As battery technology advances, electric cars will perform closer and closer to conventional power plants.

That brings us to hybrids. There are a bunch of hybrids on our California roads, with more to come. Hybrid technology combines internal combustion engines with electric motors.

A mild hybrid has a regular gas or diesel engine that’s assisted by the electric motor. The electric motor can propel the vehicle by itself up to a certain speed under gentle acceleration. There are mild hybrids in full-sized pickups and SUVs. They deliver fuel economy similar to their highway ratings.

A full hybrid will rely primarily on the electric motor for power. It’ll have a small gas or diesel engine that generates electricity for the batteries.

Another breakthrough technology from auto makers is hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to generate electricity. Several global car makers have prototypes on the road. The appeal is that the only thing that comes out of the tail pipe is water vapor. It’ll take some time to build a national infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations before there’s widespread use in California.

A quick word from Beach Benz about safety around hybrid and electric vehicles. Unlike the battery in your current family car, these carry enough voltage to kill you. Never mess around under the hood or with the batteries or electrical wiring. Your Fountain Valley service technician at  Beach Benz is trained to safely disable the flow of electricity before performing maintenance or repairs on the vehicle.

Hybrids are really not do-it-yourself vehicles unless you’re specifically trained on hybrid systems.

TPMS: Tire Pressure Monitoring For Your Huntington Beach Auto

Huntington Beach drivers may know that all 2008 model year and newer cars, mini-vans and light trucks in Huntington Beach come with a tire pressure monitoring system. Many slightly older vehicles around Fountain Valley have these systems as well. A tire pressure monitoring system – called TPMS – consists of sensors on each wheel that measure tire pressure.

If tire pressure drops 25 percent below the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure, the sensor sends a signal to a monitoring unit that causes a warning to light up on the dashboard. When Fountain Valley drivers see the warning light, they know it’s time to put some air in the tires.

There are many benefits to driving with properly inflated tires around Huntington Beach. First is cost savings. Running at the correct air pressure improves gas mileage. Driving on under-inflated tires is like driving through sand – it drags down your fuel fuel efficiency. You’ll also see longer, more even tread wear so your tires’ll last longer.

Another important benefit of properly inflated tires is increased safety. Under-inflated tires become hotter and that heat can actually lead to tire failure – possibly resulting in an accident. Your car and the tires themselves will just perform better and more safely around Huntington Beach with properly inflated tires.

Local Huntington Beach consumer groups, law-makers and manufacturers advocate TPMS systems hoping that they will save lives, property damage and inconvenience. While you can’t put a value on saving a life, Huntington Beach drivers should keep in mind that TPMS systems aren’t free.

The systems themselves are added into the price of the car. The batteries in the sensors will have to be replaced from time to time. Parts will break and need to be replaced. In colder climates around California, ice and salt are frequent causes of failure.

In addition, there are other behind-the-scenes costs to be aware of. Every time a tire is replaced, repaired, rotated or balanced, the tire technician has to deal with the TPMS system.

Huntington Beach service centers such as Beach Benz must purchase equipment used to scan and reactivate the TPMS system after every tire service. Because older tire change equipment can damage TPMS sensors, your Fountain Valley service center may need to buy expensive, new tire changers.

Since there is no uniformity among automobile manufacturers, service specialists need to be trained on several TPMS systems. These behind-the-scenes costs are very real to Huntington Beach service center managers like Mike Nott at Beach Benz.

That’s why the team at Beach Benz is anxious for Fountain Valley auto owners to understand the financial impact of TPMS systems. In the past, we’ve been able to quickly and cheaply provide tire services, and then pass the low cost on to Fountain Valley customers as an expression of our good will. But now even these simple jobs take much longer and require pricey equipment.

Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. Even a tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed.

So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up in California, please keep in mind that it’s because of this new safety equipment. The team at Beach Benz just wants to keep you safely on the road – and we’re committed to doing it at a fair price.

It’s important to remember that the TPMS warning only comes on when a tire is severely under-inflated. You’ll still want to check your tire pressure regularly. At every fill-up is best, but you should check pressure at least once a month. Here’s wishing you safe travels.

Contact Beach Benz for more information about Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.