Three Battery Tips for Fleets During COVID-19
By Alan Kohler, Marketing Manager, ODYSSEY Battery at EnerSys
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the absence of fleet drivers when exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and quarantined. When fleet vehicles are idle during driver absence, proper maintenance ensures their performance when they are active again.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many drivers in commercial and government fleets have been considered essential workers who ensure timely deliveries of food, medical supplies and other critical goods. Nevertheless, they are required by the CDC to quarantine in accordance with the guidelines.
When a driver is quarantined, fleet vehicles are often idle, which could lead to problems with starting the engine when the driver returns to work. As the pandemic continues and the risk that drivers may be quarantined from work persists, it has become more important to properly maintain the vehicle’s battery to ensure its function after prolonged inactivity.
Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries with advanced Thin Plate Pure Lead (TPPL) technology feature pure lead plates that are not subject to galvanic corrosion, which increases expected life and reliability. AGM batteries contain fiberglass separators between each plate to absorb the electrolyte, leading to a leakproof battery and eliminating the need for additional watering. TPPL technology also has a significantly lower self-discharge rate, provides deep-cycle reserve power that can tolerate repeated draining and maintains cranking power, even at lower states of charge.
Low-maintenance batteries, however, still need proper care. Even though they do not require the monthly electrolyte level checks that flooded lead acid batteries do, they must be properly installed, cleaned and charged for reliable service and long life.
Following are three tips to ensure that batteries will operate when the vehicle is driven after extended inactivity.
1.Inspect and Maintain the Battery’s Condition
Disconnect the battery before cleaning and neutralize acid residue with diluted ammonia or a paste of one-part water to three parts baking soda. Rinse with water to remove residue and dry the area thoroughly. Clean the powdery deposits on the terminals with a battery terminal brush. Remove grime from the battery’s exterior and cable clamps with water. After reconnecting the battery, cover the terminals with grease or petroleum jelly to minimize further accumulation.
In addition to keeping the battery and its terminals clean, make sure the battery is mounted securely and properly into position.
2. Disconnecting the Battery or Using a Trickle Charger
When the vehicle is idle for more than a few weeks, the battery should either be disconnected from any electrical loads or connected to a trickle charger. A trickle charger will keep the battery charged and ready for use. This will help ensure that onboard accessories, such as the radio and other electronic components, don’t drain the battery. The trickle charger must be of sufficient size to deliver at least 7.5A of current, as lower currents will not adequately maintain TPPL batteries.
The battery must be connected to the appropriate charger that is designed for the particular chemistry of the battery. Flooded and AGM batteries have different charge settings. Connection to a charger that is properly set for the battery in question to keep the battery at a full state of charge helps ensure that the vehicle will crank over when it is in use again.
3. Knowing the Battery’s Age
All batteries, regardless of their chemistry and age, have a finite service life and will eventually expire. If the battery does not pass electrical testing after being properly charged, it has reached the end of its service life and will likely need to be replaced. Batteries typically last between three and five years, depending on the application. Some chemistries provide a longer service life. For example, the TPPL technology incorporated in the ODYSSEY® battery helps contribute to a design life of 8 to 12 years in float applications and 3 to 10 years in non-float application at 77ºF (25ºC).
Always be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for battery care and handling, and direct any questions to your battery professional.
The ongoing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult to predict when anyone, including essential drivers and their vehicles, can expect to return to a familiar work schedule. If drivers find that they must avoid working, it is important that their vehicles, and especially the batteries, be properly maintained to be ready to return to duty. Advanced TPPL technology, however, provides drivers with premium-quality batteries that can tolerate extended inactivity much better than conventional batteries can.
Learn More About How ODYSSEY® Batteries Deliver Greater Reliability and Value:
Technicians may refer to the ODYSSEY® Battery Technical Manual as a good source of information about how ODYSSEY® batteries work. A copy may be downloaded here: