Tech Tip: How to Avoid No-Starts this Winter By Jeff Brakley, Sr. Marketing & Business Development Manager
Truck, Heavy Transportation, Military & Aerospace
Winter is upon us again and the temperatures are dropping. 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:
a. Proper test equipment required to test vehicle electrical systems
b. Proper training to ensure they are conducting the correct tests to get accurate results
c. Industry standard processes and procedures in place to ensure the results are consistent from vehicle to vehicle
Fleet Manager Says Goodbye to 4+ Jump-Starts Per Month
BACKGROUND POINTS Customer: Justin Donnay, fleet maintenance manager Location: Shakopee, Minnesota Fleet: Q Carriers, Inc. is a family-owned long-haul trucking company comprised of late-model trucks and trailers delivering goods across the continental U.S. and Canada. Q Carriers considers its professional drivers "the backbone of our business."
Fleet Maintenance Manager Justin Donnay had to call for road service four to five times per month for a fleet driver who would get stranded in the mornings after using several electronic devices in the truck overnight. Donnay tried different tactics to help the driver avoid morning jump-starts, including having the driver run the truck for a few hours before going to sleep so that the batteries could recharge. Despite this effort, "the next morning the truck would still die," Donnay said.
The frustrating problem was so pervasive that Donnay decided to try the Maxwell Engine Start Module (ESM) to see if it could help his driver get the truck started in the mornings.
Donnay installed the Maxwell ESM in the driver’s truck, a Peterbilt. The ultracapacitor module connects directly to the starter and completely takes over the starting function, freeing the batteries to power all other onboard electronic loads. "Within the first month, I had saved at least four jump-starts," Donnay said. The driver continued to use the same electronic devices overnight, but the difference was that, in the morning, Donnay didn’t have to call out for a jump-start. As long as the batteries can power up the ECM and the ECM has the power it needs, the Maxwell ESM will start the truck even if the batteries are low on voltage.
"This is a long-haul operation where there’s constantly a draw and a lot of starting and stopping," Donnay said. "Even when the Maxwell ESM is drained down or it dies cranking, you can let it sit for a few minutes, have the other batteries in the unit charge the ultracapacitors back up, and turn it over again. It’s almost like a jump-start of its own."
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Ever since he installed the Maxwell ESM on the driver’s truck, Donnay said, with regard to batteries, "It’s been a maintenance-free truck. Within four months we figured we had the Maxwell ESM paid off."
What made him decide to try the Maxwell ESM? "My breaking point was a $740 service call to get the unit started. That’s when I decided that in and of itself paid off the Maxwell ESM. If the batteries are junk, you have to put in a set of batteries on the side of the road. A couple of times I’ve had an $800 to $900 service call just for a jump-start."
Donnay added that the Maxwell ESM has saved him on other costs associated with no-starts, including an average of two to three hours of downtime and the time and money spent on replacing bad batteries.
"The Maxwell ESM has over and over again paid itself off and proven its worth to this fleet," he said.
How Much Will You Idle This Winter?
Idling is a deeply entrenched problem that stems from unreliable starting with batteries, especially in cold weather. This video shows how our payback calculator can help you determine how many dollars you’re burning on idling.
Note: No audio
The payback calculator is an excellent tool for fleet management and owner operators. Under the "Idling Fuel Cost" section, you can input your business’ numbers for cost of fuel per gallon, average hours per day spent idling, number of days per week the truck is in use, and more to determine your total idling cost. Other sections of the calculator help you determine your totals on factors such as jump-starts per year and lead-acid battery costs.
January 23 – 26, 2017 | Las Vegas, NV
Visit Maxwell at booth #1227! The Annual Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) is the largest North American gathering of independent heavy-duty aftermarket industry leaders.
To locate a Maxwell ESM distributor near you, visit our "Where to Buy" page and enter your city or zip code. Or, you can give us a call or shoot us an email at (877) 511- 4324 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to serving you.
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