Supplying batteries since 1952

GARAGE WIRE

Written on May 21, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Garage Message Series One

20th May – Nationwide battery distributor Manbat is on a mission to help technicians get their heads around the challenges they are beginning to face as an increasing number of the vehicles that come into the workshop are fitted with a Start-Stop system.

The primary objective behind Manbat exhibiting at the MECHANEX Manchester show at Event City on 20th & 21st May is to engage with technicians and ensure that they are fully aware of the changing shape of the battery market and how that will affect them in the workshop.

It’s also important for those technicians and workshop managers who have the responsibility to interact with customers understand the reasons behind the growth in micro-hybrid vehicles, which is the official name for those that incorporate a Start-Stop system.

Globally, the vehicle manufacturers are having to comply with legislation that forces them to reduce the average level of exhaust emissions that their model range produces. The only current technology that allows them to reach these fleet average requirements is to fit more of their vehicles with a Start-Stop system.

Despite the complicated nature of the systems themselves and the alternative routes with which manufacturers have approached the restarting mechanism, all a Start-Stop system does is to switch off the engine whenever possible and therefore prevent it from producing exhaust emissions.

Providing there is sufficient power in the battery to restart the engine, the system will switch off the engine when the driver comes to a halt and puts the gearbox into natural, whether at traffic lights, junctions or even in a queue of traffic. Once the clutch pedal is depressed and first gear engaged, the system will automatically restart the engine so the driver can pull away as normal.

3rd June – Nationwide battery distributor Manbat is on a mission to help technicians get their heads around the challenges they are beginning to face as an increasing number of the vehicles that come into the workshop are fitted with a Start-Stop system.

Although visually the battery used in a modern micro-hybrid vehicle (one fitted with Start-Stop technology) will look no different to a traditional lead-acid battery from a vehicle with older technology, they are in fact very different.

It is imperative that technicians are aware of the performance, operational and installation differences between the two batteries, otherwise they are in danger of fitting the wrong battery, which will have negative consequences for both the workshop and the vehicle owner.

Whereas in the past, fitting the wrong amperage battery may not have caused an immediate problem, nowadays, fitting a traditional battery into a vehicle with a Start-Stop system is a far more serious issue. Such a mistake is now likely to result in a roadside failure, that’s if it even starts the engine without an array of the vehicle’s dashboard warning lights being set ablaze!

It is therefore imperative to reach the technicians that are at the coalface having to install these new batteries and pass on the message that gone are the days of simply disconnecting the leads from the terminals, changing the battery and reconnecting it.

The battery fitted to a Start-Stop vehicle is integrated into the engine management system and uses complicated battery management technology to ensure that the vehicle doesn’t allow the battery to discharge beyond a predetermined minimum.

17th June – Nationwide battery distributor Manbat is on a mission to help technicians get their heads around the challenges they are beginning to face as an increasing number of the vehicles that come into the workshop are fitted with a Start-Stop system.

In the previous two editions we’ve set out the reason why vehicle manufacturers have chosen to incorporate Start-Stop technology into their vehicles and why that decision means fitting the correct battery to these vehicles is now so crucial. We now need to address the fitting process itself.

One of the first issues that technicians could well face is the location of the battery, as in many applications it’s not in its traditional position under the bonnet! Therefore, they need to have access to technical information such as TecRMI, or similar workshop related technical data, to pinpoint the exact location of the battery, be it in the boot floor or, as it is in at least one application, beneath the front passenger seat!

As the battery is intrinsically linked to the vehicle’s on-board electronics via a battery management system (BMS) or intelligent battery sensor (IBS), so a replacement has to be integrated into the system and paired with the BMS/IBS, which requires specialist equipment.

Manbat recommends that technicians use a service tool such as the VARTA® VSSP 2.1 because without the equipment to assist the technician and introduce the battery into the system, the vehicle will at best illuminate error messages on the dash or fail to charge the battery, at worst, simply not start at all.

To prevent these error messages and other installation related problems, quality Start-Stop batteries should be the first thought when being replaced, as these will have the necessary 2D codes to ensure the battery is a ‘match’ for the vehicle and be ‘accepted’ by the vehicle’s BMS/ECU.

1st July – Nationwide battery distributor Manbat is on a mission to help technicians get their heads around the challenges they are beginning to face as an increasing number of the vehicles that come into the workshop are fitted with a Start-Stop system.

The following step-by-step guide allows technicians to appreciate the key features of the VARTA® VSSP 2.1 tool and how it helps lead them through the installation process.

The device is connected to the vehicle via the central EOBD interface and the Start-Stop diagnosis function is selected from a choice of four functions on the on-screen menu. The vehicle is then identified through the VIN number either automatically or manually to ensure the exact vehicle match. VSSP then runs through the Start-Stop system via the vehicle’s ECU and the error codes selected.

The battery is then tested following a series of on-screen instructions and the comprehensive test results, which include the status of the battery, alternator and starter motor, are then printed out to provide the technician with a report that contains all the details required to ensure the correct resolution. It is also able to demonstrate the legitimacy of the diagnosis to the customer and as a quotation for the replacement battery should one be required.

If this is the case, the VSSP 2.1 will then delete the vehicle’s error codes and using the camera built into the back of the device, the technician can scan the 2D code on the battery. The code is then verified to ensure the battery is the exact match for the vehicle.

As the battery in a Start-Stop vehicle can often be positioned in an unconventional location, the VSSP 2.1 first directs the technician to the correct location and then clearly explains the process for the removal, replacement and reconnection of the battery. Once installed, the exchange is confirmed on the VSSP 2.1 and the battery is then confirmed by the vehicle’s electric systems, after which, a final battery test should be undertaken. These results can also be printed to confirm the successful installation.

15th July – Nationwide battery distributor Manbat is on a mission to help technicians get their heads around the challenges they are beginning to face as an increasing number of the vehicles that come into the workshop are fitted with a Start-Stop system.

In the concluding edition of the series, it is time to look at the positive side of the Start-Stop revolution and explain the profit making opportunities that come with this latest development in battery technology.

Traditionally, many workshops have not charged their customers for the fitting when replacing the battery. However, as the previous editions have made clear, installation of a Start-Stop battery is a far more complicated and time consuming process and as workshops in essence sell time, the fitting time must be charged to the customer.

In addition to the entirely legitimate charge for the time spent removing the old battery and installing the replacement, workshops can also benefit from the cost of the battery itself, as they are more expensive than their traditional flooded lead-acid cousins and should therefore yield a greater margin as well as having a greater list price.

A traditional lead-acid ‘starter’ battery is not suitable for a Start-Stop application and therefore cannot be used. Instead it requires a battery that can deliver the starting power of a traditional automotive battery, with the cyclic (charge, discharge, charge etc.) capacity of a specialist battery like those use for mobility vehicles.

The result is the absorbent glass mat (AGM) battery, which was first developed by VARTA® for whom Manbat is the UK’s largest supply partner. Another alternative is the enhanced flooded battery (EFB), which has similar characteristics to an AGM battery, but is designed for entry-level Start-Stop vehicles that require less electrical capacity.

Within the VARTA range these two specifications are represented by the entry level BLUE DYNAMIC EFB and the top of the range SILVER DYNAMIC AGM. However, in addition to VARTA, Manbat also distribute high quality alternatives in the Lucas and Numax brands.

For more information, please call Manbat customer services on 01743 218500 or visit: www.manbat.co.uk

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