It wasn’t long ago that we raised the hood on a vehicle and there was only a standard “wet” sealed lead acid battery. Today, many batteries are located in the trunk or under the seats to save space in the engine compartment. Additionally, a more reliable battery was necessary to handle the increased duty-cycle of the vehicle’s electrical system, due to integration of more and more accessories into vehicles. Now, there are more than 2,200 makes and models that come standard with a newer, different battery type.

The first newer technology was the Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) battery, becoming popular as far back as 1999, for ‘specialty’ vehicles like Corvettes and the Prius.  Twenty years later, AGM batteries are the dominant battery type specified for vehicles.

Now, we are seeing Enhanced Flooded Batteries (EFB), often referred to as the “Stop-Start” battery, which maintains the vehicle’s electrical system when the vehicle alternator stops generating current.

Lithium-Ion batteries started appearing in 2014 and are typically found in higher-end European and Asian vehicles. Lithium-Ion batteries will likely gain popularity in other vehicles as cost decreases.

Each type of battery requires specific algorithms and voltages to safely charge – in order to not damage or destroy the battery during charging. Typically, a standard conventional battery charger will charge at a rate of 16.5V or higher.  Sealed acid batteries are often charged in the 15-15.6V range.

Not long ago we were charging AGM batteries at a lower rate, around 14.8V.Yet today, various vehicle manufacturers and battery manufacturers recommend charging at only 14.4V MAX.  EFB batteries or “Start-Stop” batteries, require much less amperage than a conventional charger’s typical output.

Lithium-Ion batteries are extremely sensitive to charge voltage and typically are charged between only 12.6-14.6V, depending on the chemistry.

Current technology makes what used to be simply ‘charging a battery’ into a much more refined and highly-controlled process.

So, what is the solution? Firstly, you have to know what TYPE of battery you have before ever hooking up the charger.  You must use a battery charger that can charge by selected battery type and allows adjustable charging voltages for each type of battery. And, when in doubt – or if you are unsure of the battery type – always charge at a lower voltage setting.

You can extend the life of these new technology batteries by knowing how to identify and charge them. However, if a conventional automatic charger is used on any of these new technology batteries, the battery will be damaged in less than 30 minutes.

Stay tuned for more changes in the evolving battery world.

More new battery info

s of the printing of this article, there are over 2200 vehicles that come straight from the assembly line with something other than a wet, standard lead-acid battery.  Obviously, the list of vehicles is far too long to print on these pages. 

To assist you in identifying vehicles with new technology batteries, this article will be re-printed in our upcoming issue of Undercar Digest Digital Update magazine.  In our digital format, we will provide a link to a .pdf and an Excel spreadsheet of that list for you to view or download.
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