9 Common Mistakes Kenyan First Time Drivers Make While Replacing Car Batteries

File photo of a car battery
A photo of a motorist removing a car battery from a vehicle for a checkup.
One Stop Garage

Being a first time car owner in Kenya comes with a lot of responsibilities, especially for non-car enthusiasts. It requires a lot of learning and understanding details of what every part does and how to care for the car.

For any fossil fuel-powered vehicle, a battery is one essential the driver should take care of and understand its dimensions and capacity, especially when a replacement is required.

One of the most dreaded moments is when a new driver hops into a car ready to drive only to turn the ignition key but the engine refuses to crank up.

When a jumpstart fails to give the immediate solution, it is time to purchase a new battery. But, if you are a new driver who does not understand the process, you will most likely fail in getting the basics right in the replacement of the battery.

File photo of a car owner replacing a car battery
File photo of a car owner replacing a car battery

Here are the common costly mistakes first time car owners always make.

Picking the wrong battery type

Most new drivers fail to understand that there are eight types of car batteries. The types include Flooded Lead Acid Battery (Wet Cell), Silver Calcium Battery, Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB), Gel Cell Battery (Dry Cell), Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) Battery, and Nickel Metal Hydride Battery.

To avoid making the mistake, new drivers are advised to check the manual. It will be a complete waste if you buy the wrong battery for your vehicle.

The manual entails what type your car requires.

Picking Wrong Battery Size

Another key factor a new driver should consider is the size of the battery. The batteries are divided into group sizes which indicate the length, width, and height of the battery. You can find out the battery size required by checking the owner’s manual or consulting with your mechanic and then making a comparison between the available options.

The right battery size is the one that fits perfectly in the battery tray securing the battery and preventing damage arising from vibrations.

Not Understanding its Reserve Capacity

This refers to the amount of time the battery can run on its own power without the engine and before discharge. Failure to pick a battery with high reserve capacity is detrimental to the car.

The importance of picking a car with high reserve capacity helps the car through tough situations such as a non-compliant engine, alternator failure and accidentally leaving lights on.

Type and Position of Terminals

Most new drivers find it difficult to correctly tell the positions of the terminals which is critical in replacing a battery. This process is essential as the position of the positive terminal affects the polarity of the car and there is a risk of a short circuit if the positive terminal contacts with the metal shell of the car.

It is, therefore, important for new car owners to check and comprehend what side the positive terminal is located whether right or left depending on the type of car.

Not checking warranties

A file image of parked Luxury cars
A file image of parked Luxury cars

Without checking the right warranties and be a costly mistake to any car owner. It is advisable to consider warranties and choose a battery with a long period of free replacement. 

Warranty periods are measured by a figure combining the free replacement period and the prorated period. The prorated period allows for partial reimbursement of the purchase sum of the battery for a limited period of time.

Failure to Check Battery Freshness Before Replacing 

Battery freshness is essential in determining if you are picking the right one for your car. The freshness is indicated by a code on the battery which consists of a letter and a number.

The letter stands for the month whereas the number stands for the year of manufacture. It is advised not to buy a battery that is older than six months from the date of its manufacture.

Picking a battery with Wrong Power Requirement

This point requires understanding some basic physic principles. The power requirement of a battery refers to Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) and Cranking Amps (CA).

Cranking Amps is the energy required to start a vehicle at temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit while Cold Cranking Amp points to the ability of the battery to start a car at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. CCA applies for cold climates and batteries with higher CCA are recommended.

Not Understanding Batteries Maintenance

Understanding a batteries maintenance is also basic knowledge any new driver lack. To be abreast with what is required, a new driver or car owner needs to understand two scenarios; the low maintenance and the maintenance-free type.

The maintenance-free car battery is usually sealed and the liquid electrolyte can run throughout the battery life with no need for replacement. Low maintenance batteries are unsealed with caps that allow you to add distilled water occasionally.

Battery Life and Ampere Hour (Ah)

You can check the battery life of your current battery at an auto parts store or battery specialist. This will help you know if you need a new battery or just a maintenance procedure.

Battery life also requires understanding the Ampere Hour (Ah). This refers to how much electricity the battery can store (capacity). A higher Ah means that the battery can maintain a load for a long time thus chances of the battery running out are less.

Learning all the requirements before replacing a battery compels a new driver or a car owner to properly go through the manual and make regular visits to a mechanic.

A newly imported Toyota Vitz
A newly imported Toyota Vitz.
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