As the leaves begin to change color and the temperatures start to drop, car repair shop owners and dealership service management know that it’s time to gear up for the fall season. Drivers are keen to make sure their cars won’t break down during the cold, icy season when it’s even more inconvenient to be stuck at the side of the road.
One critical aspect of vehicle maintenance during this time is checking and diagnosing car batteries. With the colder weather ahead, batteries can face additional challenges that may lead to unexpected breakdowns and frustrated customers. Let’s explore seven essential tips to help you prepare for fall battery checks and ensure vehicle reliability in your shop.
Why Do Seasonal Battery Tests?
The changing weather conditions and environmental factors play a significant role in battery health. As the seasons change, little inconsistencies in how a battery performs can become magnified.
- Batteries are temperature sensitive. As the weather gets colder in the fall and winter, the chemical reactions within the battery slow down. This reduces the battery’s ability to generate electrical energy, making it harder for the engine to start. In extreme cold, a weak battery may become so sluggish that it can’t supply enough power to turn the engine over, resulting in a no-start situation.
- Cold weather tends to have higher electrical demands. During colder months, drivers tend to use more electrical accessories, such as heaters, defrosters, and headlights, to combat the cold and darker days. These added electrical demands put extra stress on the battery, potentially accelerating its wear and reducing its lifespan.
- Batteries age, plain and simple. Batteries naturally degrade over time, and the process can be exacerbated by temperature extremes. Fall is a critical time to assess the battery’s overall health, as it’s better to replace a weak battery before the harsh winter conditions arrive, preventing unexpected breakdowns in freezing weather.
- Moisture leads to corrosion. Fall often brings increased moisture levels, which can lead to corrosion on battery terminals and cables. Corrosion disrupts the flow of electricity between the battery and the vehicle’s electrical system, resulting in poor battery performance and charging that can deteriorate its condition.
- Car batteries might’ve gone all summer untested. In many cases, drivers may not be aware of their battery’s condition until they experience difficulties starting their vehicle in cold weather. By proactively checking and testing batteries in the fall, you can identify weak or failing batteries and replace them before they leave customers stranded.
Tip 1: Schedule Regular Battery Tests
Regular battery testing should be a cornerstone of your shop’s maintenance routine. Consider implementing a schedule that includes battery checks for every vehicle that comes in for service.
By doing this, you can identify weak batteries before they become a problem and address them proactively. And perhaps even more importantly, vehicle owners get peace of mind, knowing they’re entering winter with a battery that’s in good shape. That instills confidence in your shop.
Tip 2: Use Advanced Diagnostic Equipment
Investing in state-of-the-art battery diagnostic and testing equipment is crucial for accurate assessments. Modern vehicles come equipped with increasingly complex electrical systems, and using advanced equipment allows you to pinpoint battery issues with precision. Not all battery testers can handle the nuances of EFB and AGM batteries, as well as Li-Ion batteries.
Your equipment should provide detailed data on voltage, current, and overall battery health, ensuring you can diagnose problems quickly and accurately. And complete testing should also incorporate starting and charging system data.
Tip 3: Educate Your Technicians
Your technicians are the frontline when it comes to identifying and diagnosing battery issues. Providing ongoing training and education is essential to ensure they are up to date with the latest battery technologies and diagnostic techniques.
Encourage them to attend workshops and seminars to enhance their skills and knowledge, particularly in the fast-paced world of electronics and diagnostics. Newer vehicles often require more stable battery power.
Tip 4: Check for Corrosion
Corrosion on battery terminals can lead to poor electrical connections and reduced battery performance. As part of your fall battery checks, instruct your technicians to inspect battery terminals for any signs of corrosion. If present, clean the terminals thoroughly and apply a protective coating to prevent future corrosion. It’s a quick and easy service to complete, and it’s a way of increasing your average work order hours.
Tip 5: Check Vehicles in Sales Inventory
While customer-focused servicing is the primary focus, the sales department’s inventory shouldn’t take a backseat. Develop a plan to test all of the batteries for in-stock new and pre-owned vehicles as part of your fall battery checks.
One of the worst first impressions a car shopper can get is when their potential new vehicle won’t start at the dealership, so avoid this scenario at all costs.
Tip 6: Inspect Battery Hold-Downs and Cables
During your fall battery checks, take a moment to inspect the battery hold-downs and cables. Ensure that the battery is securely fastened in place, as loose batteries can vibrate and potentially suffer damage.
Additionally, inspect battery cables for signs of wear, fraying, or corrosion. Damaged cables can lead to electrical issues and poor battery performance, so replacing or repairing them as necessary is essential.
Tip 7: Offer Different Grades of Battery Replacements
Sometimes, no matter how diligent your checks and maintenance, batteries will reach the end of their lifespan. Be prepared to offer battery replacement services to your customers. Keep a variety of high-quality batteries in stock and provide options that suit different budgets and vehicle requirements. Offering this service can not only increase revenue but also enhance customer satisfaction.
Preparing your shop or dealership for fall battery checks is essential to ensure vehicle reliability and customer satisfaction during autumn. By implementing these seven tips, you can establish a comprehensive battery maintenance program that identifies and addresses battery issues proactively.
Remember that investing in advanced diagnostic equipment, ongoing technician education, and offering battery replacement services are key components of a successful fall battery check strategy. As you embrace these practices, you’ll not only reduce the likelihood of battery-related breakdowns but also position your shop as a trusted partner in vehicle maintenance for your customers.