When you think car maintenance, you no doubt think of all the usual stuff like changing oil, cleaning/changing air filters, changing spark plugs, etc. These are all great to maintain and will keep your car running well, but sometimes we neglect a very important part of our car: the battery. Batteries have a rough life: they are expected to always work, are constantly being drained by alarm systems and other peripherals, and they are rarely maintained except by the car’s alternator. This is where CTEK and their Smart Battery Chargers come in.
Don’t be this guy
CTEK is a technology company based in Sweden that understands the importance of a healthy battery for your vehicle. They specialize in producing the very best battery chargers for a multitude of different applications. They understand what makes a battery fail and have developed their chargers to not only keep batteries charged, but to do so in a way that preserves and even improves the health of the battery.
Charging a battery isn’t as simple as pumping electricity into it, that would lead to excessive heat and could lead to early battery failure. This is fine when you’re jumping a dead battery because you are just getting enough current in the battery to be able to start the car, after which the cables should be disconnected and the alternator will slowly recharge the battery to full.
This should never be a regular occurrence
Now, there are several reasons a battery can fail. You could accidentally leave your lights on all night, the alternator might be going out so your battery isn’t being recharged properly, or the car might sit for a weeks and lose charge. This loss of charge (often referred to as parasitic loss) is caused by normal accessories on the car such as the ECU, the clock, and the alarm if your car is equipped with one. It can also be aggravated by many common mods such as: upgraded alarms, remote start systems, dash cams, upgraded audio systems, etc. Normal trickle chargers can get your battery back up and running or help it keep charge while sitting for a while, but the only thing they do is charge the battery slowly with a very low current. This is much better than trying to fast charge the battery to full, but it still does not help with any degradation that has already occurred which might effect max charge level/battery health. It can also negatively affect your battery if left on too long by overcharging it.
An overcharged battery can be dangerous
This is where you see the CTEK difference. CTEK develops “smart” chargers with a lot of impressive technology packed into them. They take the charging process and separate it into multiple stages to preserve and improve the overall health of your battery. Both of the CTEK Smart Chargers we offer utilize 8 steps of charging to give your battery a safe and stable full charge without damaging it. This technology will obviously be most useful to people who live in a colder climate who maybe keep their sporty car garaged during the winter. When storing a car for that long without driving it around it is absolutely essential that you keep it on a good charger to maintain the health of its battery, otherwise your battery will be losing literally years off of its life.
Even if you do not live in a colder climate, if you have a daily driver separate from your weekend warrior it’s still a good idea to keep a battery charger on your fun car in case of bad weather or unexpected absence. The last thing you want is to have that perfect day for driving come along and then have to deal with a flat battery. Same deal if you have a show car you only bring out for meets and events, CTEK is perfect for garage queens. Jay Leno, king of car enthusiasts, uses CTEK chargers on his warehouse full of vehicles (see video below). If you’re worried about CTEK chargers being too fancy to figure out then fear not, CTEK chargers are completely plug and play and even include reverse polarity detection (if you accidentally put the connectors on the wrong battery terminals) so there’s no way you could harm your car.
Jay Leno uses CTEK Chargers on his collection of 200+ vehicles
The CTEK Multi US 4.3:
The CTEK Multi US 4.3 is designed for charging of standard 12V Lead-Acid batteries (including premium AGM batteries). The 8-Step charging process for this model is as follows: 1. Desulfation > 2. Soft Start > 3. Bulk Charging > 4. Absorption > Analysis > Recondition > Float Charge > Pulse Charge. Stages 1 and 2 work to remove sulfate buildup and to verify the battery’s capacity before fully charging it. The Next two steps are the main charging phases where the battery is first charged quickly up to 80% and then slowly charged up to full so the battery is uniformly charged. Next, the Analysis phase will monitor that the battery is holding a charge. The recondition phase pulses the battery with high voltage to stir up the fluids and keep them from settling. If the car is sitting for an extended period of time the Float Charge will maintain maximum capacity for about a week and a half. Any longer and the charger goes into pulse charge mode, which periodically charges the battery to just under 100% charge to help maintain the capacity but without overcharging it. Throughout these phases the battery is constantly monitored to ensure that the proper current is being applied at all times.
The CTEK Lithium US:
If you have a newer BMW (most notably an M3/M4) with a Lithium Ion/Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePo4) battery then CTEK has you covered. If you haven’t looked into it yet, you may be shocked to find that replacing one of these batteries can run you upwards of $1000, which is about triple what it costs to replace a normal lead-acid battery. Because of this high cost of replacement it would be a great idea to make sure you are taking good care for your existing battery so you don’t have to worry about spending $1000 just to get your car running again.
The CTEK Lithium US uses 8 charging stages similar to the Multi US 4.3 to keep your Lithium battery topped up and healthy. The stages are: Test > Bulk Charge > Absorption > Analysis > Completion > Maximization > Float Charge > Pulse Charge. As the final two stages are identical to the Multi US we will only cover what the first six stages do. In the Test phase, or “Accept” phase as CTEK calls it, the battery is first tested to make sure it will accept a charge. In the event of a defect charging is halted. In the Bulk and Absorption stages the battery is charged up to 90% and then 95% with a lower current. In the Analysis phase the battery is tested to ensure that it can hold a charge (different from the Test phase which tests if the battery will accept a charge at all). The Completion and Maximization phases are where the final 5% of the battery is filled, first with a low current, then a high voltage current to top it off completely and fill any gaps.
The CTEK Battery Sense is an amazing tool if you want to be able to monitor your battery levels from your phone. This little device wires directly onto your battery and connects to your smartphone to give you the real-time status of your battery. It will even send you notifications if your battery is getting low and maybe you forgot to plug it into a charger. If you have more than one vehicle you want to monitor then no sweat, the app can support multiple vehicles and even stores battery history and graphs for each vehicle so you can see how your battery has been holding up.
Why this is important to you:
If you’re in the type of position where you have one of your vehicles sitting for extended periods of time you should already know you need a battery charger of some sort. If you need one anyways, why not go for the best you can get? CTEK chargers are trusted by some of the top car manufacturers in the world: Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, BMW, Audi, and many more. Sure it may cost a little bit more upfront (although neither version is particularly expensive) but isn’t that worth the peace of mind? Battery Failure is one of the biggest causes for breakdowns, so taking good care of your battery can save you time, towing costs, repair costs, and replacement cost. Plus, with a CTEK charger you get an early warning if your battery is having trouble holding a charge, so you can get a replacement before you need it, not while you’re stuck on the side of the road.
Just a few of the many brands for which CTEK produces OEM Battery Chargers