Battery Chargers & Testers – Keeping the Charge Alive

Battery Chargers & Testers – Keeping the Charge Alive

Keeping a vehicle’s battery charged and ready to go is more important than ever.

BatteryChargersAs vehicle manufacturers steadily increase the amount of electronic entertainment and convenience features on vehicles, the more electrical power is needed to operate them. That means keeping the vehicle’s battery – the main reservoir of electrical power – always charged and ready to go. Although a battery is built to last a couple of years, once in a while, it may “die,” due to extreme cold weather, or prolonged lack of use, the latter being the most common reason, said one shop owner. This may not always mean that something is wrong with the battery or that it needs to be replaced; it might just be “depleted.”

Most shops, therefore, keep a battery charger on hand that can recharge a dead battery, thereby extending its service life. Battery chargers for automotive use are designed to work with 12V standard, gel, AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) and deep cycle batteries utilizing a manual or automated process.

If you are looking to purchase a battery charger for your shop, select one that is based on the types of batteries you will be charging, the features you will need and your budget. Features may include the charge rate you are looking for (slow or fast), engine start option (jump start capability) and compatibility with the battery types you will use. You may also want a charger that includes reverse hook-up protection, which means that the charger will not operate if the clamps are reversed.

The faster the charge capability you need, the more expensive the unit will be. Non-portable chargers, though more bulky to move around, are less expensive and have more features. For instance, wheeled battery chargers that are combined with engine starters are easy to use and will start the engine right away. They feature color-coded clamps, an easy-to-read meter, and come with a warranty.

For safety reasons, it is better to use an automated charger over a manual charger. The automatic charger switches off when the battery is fully charged, and is available with insulated or spark-resistant clamps to avoid any accidental shock.

Battery chargers that are combined with maintainers are designed to keep a battery charged and maintained even if the vehicle is not used regularly.

The automatic charger will deliver a small current when the battery charge goes below a certain preset level. Once the level is reached, it goes back into maintenance mode (also referred to as float-mode monitoring). The voltage is maintained according to the battery type selected. However, manufacturers recommend monitoring the battery and charging process because problems associated with the battery itself, electrical problems on the vehicle or other unanticipated issues may cause excessive voltage draws.

A fully automated portable battery charger and maintainer is a very handy tool during emergencies. Perfect for 12V or 6V lead acetate batteries on cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, etc., it keeps them fully charged and ready to use.

Modern chargers that come with diagnostic capabilities are designed to test the battery while the charging is taking place. If the battery is “bad” and not worth charging, the screen will say “replace.” This saves both time and expense and helps the shop advise customers if they need to get a new battery or have the existing one serviced. Hence the combined diagnostic charger and tester helps control warranty expense, creates customer satisfaction and builds customer retention. Diagnostic chargers can be used on more than one vehicle at the same time.

Leading manufacturers currently offer highly advanced electrical diagnostic tools that are well-suited to today’s modern automotive service environment. These tools combine the features of a conventional battery charger and tester and, as a result, help technicians make better decisions about electrical system issues. Capabilities of these tools include battery testing, starter testing, charging system testing and advanced electrical system diagnostics. A large graphical screen and a complete alpha numerical keypad help drive the use of the product.

Battery testers are also available for testing-only purposes. However they come both as a smart tester and as a conventional tester. The app for the smart tester can be downloaded to an iOS or Android smart device. In less than two minutes, it can test the vehicle’s battery and the health of the charging system and display a comprehensive graphical summary on the screen of the smart device. This information can then be shared with the customer via email or print. Another advantage of a smart battery tester is that the report it generates can also be electronically linked to the vehicle’s history.

The conventional, more affordable battery testers available for testing only use state-of-the-art conductance technology to provide quick and accurate load-free testing of 12V batteries including standard, AGM and maintenance-free batteries.

“When I was looking to purchase a battery charger for my shop,” said shop owner Frank Montgomery, Paoli Auto Repair in Paoli, PA, “I talked first to my guys that would be using it, then I checked with some of my colleagues in the industry to see what they would recommend and, of course, considered the pricing. Finally, I went with a unit that that would keep the battery voltage steady while charging it, and would also help with programming.”

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Nylon Fuel Line Repair

Quality should be number one when making decisions.

Many jobs require special tools. Sometimes you absolutely need them, and sometimes you can get away without. The buying decision involves multiple factors: How expensive is the tool, how often will you do the job, how hard is it without the special tools and is quality affected adversely if you don’t use them?Often the question is answered by doing a job once, maybe getting it done successfully, but deciding you won’t do it again without the special tools. One of those jobs for me is fuel line repair, either repairing nylon lines or replacing rusted metal lines with nylon.There are only a few special tools that come into play, but they work so well they almost make the job fun. The first one you’ll always use is a special cutter for the nylon tube. It’s like a custom-made razor knife, but it makes a clean cut, leaving no pinching or burrs.Any work with nylon fuel lines is simple in nature and comes down to measuring the line, cutting it, and installing the end fittings, but installing the end fittings can be the tough part. Without the proper tools, way too many times I’ve found myself warming the end of the nylon tube in hot water, then trying to push a fitting in by hand. It works, almost, but it’s not easy. I say almost because I’ve kinked plenty of lines and had to start over, and the best I’ve ever done is getting a fitting in 80% of the way, but not having the strength or grip on the line to go the rest of the way.Now I have all the special tools, and I love this work. My favorite tool for this job is called a hose press or a hose assembly press, and there are multiple different ones available. These are designed for bench operation for installing any type of hose fitting into hose. What makes them work so efficiently for nylon fuel lines is adapters that allow you to clamp the nylon line in the vise on one end and use multiple jaw options to hold the fitting you are working with in the other. With both pieces clamped in place, rotating a screw between the two vises draws them together, and the nylon line is effortlessly pushed onto the fitting.Of course, sometimes you’re doing a repair on the car, but there’s a variation that makes this just as easy. There’s a handheld tool that performs the same job as a hose press but works similar to a caulking gun. It’s not as convenient overall as the press, but it allows you to do a repair on the vehicle.Finally, there’s a special tool for the mini crimp-clamps that finish the installation. For fuel line repair, I answered the questions easily. The tools weren’t that expensive, and even though I don’t do it all the time, it’s absolutely no fun without them and quality can be adversely affected. Quality is number one with me. Bring on the fuel lines. TS

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