Every car has an on-board battery that stores the charge needed to start the engine and power the car's electronic features, such as the power windows, headlights, fans, heaters and sound system. In many cars, this battery is a 12-volt lead-acid battery. However, some car manufacturers are starting to equip cars with lithium-ion batteries instead. Car owners can also replace their car's lead-acid battery with a lithium-ion battery.
Why Use Lithium-Ion Batteries in Cars?
Lithium-ion batteries have many advantages compared to lead-acid batteries. They are much lighter, which is why they are almost always used as the main batteries in electric cars. The lower the overall weight of a car, the less fuel is needed to make it move. Therefore, replacing the lead-acid 12-volt battery in a car could offer a slight improvement in fuel efficiency. Lithium-ion batteries also last longer than lead-acid batteries, which means they need replacing less often.
Drawbacks of Lithium-Ion Batteries in Cars
Lithium-ion batteries are not used universally in cars because they are more expensive than lead-acid alternatives. The price of lithium-ion batteries is falling, however, which could lead to more car manufacturers using this type of battery.
Should Car Owners Install Lithium-Ion Batteries?
Car owners can replace their existing lead-acid batteries with lithium-ion batteries to increase the fuel efficiency of their vehicles. However, as this replacement only marginally decreases the total weight of the car, it could take several years to recoup the cost of the new battery through savings on fuel. The small decrease in weight is more likely to be important to owners of high-performance cars, whose aim is to refine every detail of their car in order to improve its speed and acceleration.
Car owners whose battery has broken might want to replace it with a lithium-ion battery for environmental reasons. Whereas lead is a highly toxic environmental pollutant, lithium-ion batteries are safer and cleaner to produce. They also pose much less of an environmental hazard when they reach the end of their lifespan and require disposal.
How to Install a Lithium-Ion Car Battery
Installing a lithium-ion car battery is relatively straightforward. The first step is to disconnect the cables from the old battery and remove it. The car owner then needs to slide the new lithium-ion battery into place and reconnect the cables. It's a good idea to make a note of which cable attaches to which terminal of the old battery, so that it is easy to match up each one with the correct terminal on the new battery.
Although lithium-ion car batteries are more expensive than lead-acid batteries, they offer environmental benefits. They are also much lighter than the alternatives, which could improve the car's acceleration and fuel efficiency.