car battery rip off

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Eric The Red

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prompted by neils post about the AA , im not sure which it was, the AA or RAC but caught something on the TV in our canteen at work couldnt hear it properly but it was basically they were telling people their battery's were goosed and they needed a new one, which then they proceeded to sell them a battery for 100, now i was fishing in scotland 130 mile from my home over christmas and had to take my 10 year old daughter or not go , she was happy to come but spent most of the time in the car on her new phone with the interior light on .now the car was only 5 mtrs from me fishing , but when i went to start the car to come home, nothing it wouldnt start , i called the AA and i was a bit wary i knew it was just the battery , but i was sure just a jump start would do it , the AA guy did tell me it was the battery and did i want it testing or just a jump start,i told him just the jump start as i was traveling 130 miles home and this would put the charge back in the battery ,he put a battery pack on at first and this didnt start it and then said my battery was the original and was probably goosed , he then plugged it into a socket in the grill of the AA van and this still didnt start it until he upped the revs and then it started , the car started the next day and i got it tested at a local garage and he said its fine and it was the interior light which had drained it.but i got the impression he was trying to sell me a new battery. it reminded me when you buy a pair of shoes and they allways try and sell you some polish at the same time.
 

pole addict

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This scam was covered on a consumer programme several years ago.
The breakdown companies make a fortune and engineers were paid an incentive for numbers sold.
 

Northantslad

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When it comes to car Batteries, the trouble is that people, not necessarily the customer, more may be the 'specialist', don't always understand them, it's a case of plug this on and take what it says as fact. True enough, that during the colder months Batteries do struggle to function, due to the thickening of the acid and this slowing the process that needs it to move onto the plates when being used/drawn upon.

A battery, used largely to operate the starter motor and any other electrical consumers that are required when the engine is off, is simply the source of electrical pressure to push current around a circuit. Electrical pressure is measured in volts and a fully charged battery would initially read 13.2v (6 cells x 2.2v per cell). A Battery at 12.6v and up will generally start a vehicle. This is however where the lack of understanding sometimes comes in, too often someone will put a voltmeter on a battery and base the decision, as to the batteries condition purely on the outcome of this test, ok if all the cells are healthy, but imagine if one cell was defective:

Cell 1 2.2v Cell 2 2.2v Cell 3 1.6v Cell 4 2.2v Cell 5 2.2v Cell 6 2.2v.

The above however would result in a misdiagnosis of the battery being ok, when tested just with a voltmeter.

A state of charge test however, otherwise known as a specific gravity or relative density test (testing the strength of the acid in each cell) will identify healthiness of each cell. If you can get a hydrometer and your battery allows access to each cell, it is a test you can yourself, some Hydrometers will display a basic traffic light colour coding, green good, orange charge and retest, red bad, other hydrometers using a number rating, whereby 1.280 sg/rd represents a charged cell.

Some of the specialists do use a hand held device that basically will state the starting capability as a percentage and the voltage, ok on batteries where access to cells cannot be gained-'maintenance free' (only option to be fair), but on batteries that the cells can be accessed-maintenance type, I would much prefer to do the full range of tests. Word of note, some batteries will be stated as maintenance free, when in reality access to cells can be gained. For me, batteries where cells can be accessed are best, as you can do the following: Test the cells, top up the cells if acid low and leave them open when charging (produces hydrogen and must only be done in a ventilated space). On this latter matter, I would say that there are numerous batteries that are thrown away as 'defective', when in reality they just need a good charge up off the vehicle. To be fair on the specialists at the roadside, most customers I would think just want to get going, which at the moment in time means a new battery, not sure if the specialists have chargers on board, but fairly sure anyway a customer wouldn't want to wait half a day.

Note of caution though, battery acid is of course very dangerous and you should only access cells if confident AND wearing skin and eye protection. Also if taking the battery off to test it/charge it is relevant, you are now getting into an area where although simple disconnection and reconnection rules apply, you would be best with someone who knows exactly what they are doing to avoid damaging the electrical system.
 
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