Written on July 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm
Members Get To Grips With Start-Stop Technology
Manbat, the UK’s largest automotive battery distributor, was at Stoneleigh Park for the recent AutoCare Trade Show and Conference, where the team were able to catch up with those actually tasked with fitting the batteries it supplies through GROUPAUTO members nationwide.
As well as taking visiting technicians through the products in the VARTA®, Lucas and Numax ranges, which are Manbat’s approved brands to GROUPAUTO members, the show also provided the team with the perfect opportunity to raise the question of battery technology and how it will affect them in the workshop over the next few years.
Start-Stop, otherwise known as micro hybrid, engines have become the preferred route for most of the vehicle manufacturers to follow in order for them to reduce the fuel consumption of their vehicles and achieve the European Union requirement for fleet average vehicle emissions. It is therefore, the introduction of Start-Stop vehicles that has driven the major change in battery technology.
The traditional lead-acid ‘starter’ battery is not suitable for this type of engine 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 mobility battery. 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.
With a Start-Stop vehicle fitted with an AGM battery, technicians cannot just replace the battery in the same way as a traditional battery. Instead as the battery is directly linked to the vehicle’s on-board electronics via a battery management system (BMS), it has to be integrated into the system and paired with the BMS, which requires specialist equipment. Without the equipment to assist the technician and introduce the battery into the system, the vehicle will not function correctly and is at risk of running in ‘limp’ mode or may 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 BMS/ECU.
Training is particularly important because the number of potential faults in a Start-Stop system is far greater than for a traditional electrical system. Because the engine is switched off as frequently as possible and only restarts when the vehicle needs to move off or when the state of charge of the battery drops to a predetermined level, the BMS is extremely complicated. Therefore the correct testing procedure and fault diagnosis is vital, and this is why Manbat has joined forces with eXponentia via its association with VARTA.