January 2012

BMW Battery Care

A critically important, but often overlooked part of every BMW is the battery, and it only takes a little bit of attention to keep yours in top working order.
 
Fortunately, the battery is easy and inexpensive to maintain. First, a bit of background. Most vehicles use a 12-volt battery to provide the power necessary to crank the engine when the driver turns the key or presses the start button. When fully charged, the battery should have plenty of power, even at temperatures down to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Starting the engine will drain some of the power from the battery.
 
Once the engine starts, a belt drives the alternator, which provides electricity for the ignition system, all of the vehicle’s accessories – such as the audio, climate control, headlights and more – and, of course, recharging the battery.
 
If your BMW is consistently only driven for distances of less than 10 miles, the battery may not get fully recharged. Over time, the battery will get fully drained to the point where it won’t be able to start the engine and the car will then need a boost. BMW provides four years of complimentary roadside assistance to get you back on your way, but it’s better if you don’t have to wait around for a service vehicle.
 
If the battery is repeatedly drained in this way, it will prematurely wear out and won’t be able to hold a charge. If this happens, it will have to be replaced.
 
The easiest way to avoid running the battery down is to periodically take longer trips, particularly at highway speeds, to ensure the battery gets fully charged. If this isn’t practical, drivers can consider using a trickle charger (also known as a battery tender) to replenish the battery while the vehicle is parked.
 
A trickle charger is relatively inexpensive. When connected either to the battery terminals or through one of the 12-volt power outlets in the car, the trickle charger will slowly charge the battery, continuously monitoring the state of charge. When the battery is full, the charger will automatically switch off.
 
If your BMW is going to be parked for an extended period of time, such as over the winter months, your BMW service technician may recommend that the battery be removed from the vehicle and stored separately. The battery contains a mixture of water and sulphuric acid for the electrolyte. When the battery is in storage, it should be kept somewhere cool and dry to keep it from freezing and being damaged. Even when stored, the battery should still be charged every three months to prevent it from being damaged. 
 
Expert BMW service advisors and technicians can help with advice on routine battery maintenance, removal and storage of the battery, or replacement if the battery has already been damaged. With a little bit of attention and basic care, the battery in your BMW will provide years of carefree service.


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