Tech Tip: How to Avoid No-Starts this Winter
February 27, 2017 | Jeff Brakley, Sr. Marketing & BDM — Truck, Heavy Transportation, Military & Aerospace
Winter is upon us and temperatures are cold enough to affect truck starting. Are you seeing an increase in no-start situations? Here at Maxwell Technologies, we review all the major trucking publications regularly, and no-starts seems to be a recurring theme in the colder winter months.
The main culprit for increased no-starts is the battery system. It is well-known that batteries may lose 30% to 50% of their capacity at 0°F. This can get even worse if the batteries are not maintained at a good state of health (SOH) and good state of charge (SOC) as recommended by battery manufacturers.
Most heavy-duty commercial vehicles also require additional cranking power in colder temperatures. As the temperature drops, the engine oil viscosity (consistency) becomes thicker, which means it will take longer to crank the engine. This is like putting a bottle of maple syrup in the freezer overnight and then trying to pour some on your pancakes in the morning. It’s going to take a lot more power to squeeze the syrup out of the bottle!
The Maxwell Engine Start Module (ESM) compensates for the colder temperatures in your starting system. The Maxwell ESM has internal temperature sensors, a computer, and a DC-to-DC converter that automatically increases the charge voltage to the internal ultracapacitors up to 16.2 volts when the temperature drops below 32°F. This additional cranking power is actually better for your starter motor compared to a low-voltage start from depleted batteries.
Even if you have a Maxwell ESM installed in your truck, you should check and maintain your batteries at every preventive maintenance (PM) cycle. In between PM cycles it’s also a good idea to check all the electrical connections in the battery box to make sure they are clean and tight. Maxwell recommends 18 ft-lbs of torque on all three Maxwell ESM connections to ensure reliable connections.
For fleets and service providers, make sure your technicians have the following:
· Proper test equipment required to test vehicle electrical systems
· Proper training to ensure they are conducting the correct tests to get accurate results
· Industry standard processes and procedures in place to ensure the results are consistent from vehicle to vehicle
For additional technical tips related to batteries, starting and charging system cabling, and alternator sizing, read The Three Things Every Driver Should Check to Prepare for Winter from our 2016 Truck Starting Newsletter fall issue.
Jeff Brakley, Sr. Marketing & Business Development Manager — Truck, Heavy Transportation, Military & Aerospace
About this author
Jeff Brakley has contributed to the development of the Engine Start Module (ESM) from its inception. He is a member of SAE International and an Associate Corporate member of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC). Jeff serves on the S.1 Electrical & Instruments Task Force, and recently contributed to the SAE J3053 Task Force to develop the Heavy Duty Truck Electrical Circuit Performance Requirement for 12/24 Volt Electric Start Motors Recommended Practice.
Throughout his 30-year career, Jeff has held both engineering management and program management positions for several leading national defense contractors and commercial companies, including General Dynamics, Martin Marietta, L3 Communications and Ametek Programmable Power. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Purdue University and an MBA in technology management from the University of Phoenix.
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