NOTE: I took this post from my friend over at CorvetteNewsBlog.com I asked his permission because I thought the information presented was pretty good for any car owner to know.
Corvette C6 Z06 Engine Catches Fire as Result of Battery Charger
Multiple Engine Fires Have Been Linked to Improper Battery Charging or Use of Bargain Battery Chargers in Recent Months
The images are gruesome for any automotive enthusiast: a show quality C6 Z06 Corvette with the engine bay engulfed in flames, the body panels of a Porsche 911 melting under the heat of a battery fire, people’s automobiles destroyed in their driveways and garages. Recently the internet has been buzzing with people reporting battery fires causing costly damage to their car or home. The issue was so large that CTEK, one of the world’s leading battery charger manufacturers, felt the need to warn motorists of the dangers of using a battery charger that lacked what they call “smart functionality”.
Older or lower cost automotive battery chargers, the sort that many people have purchased from places like Wal-Mart and EBay, have begun to be clearly a dangerous investment. Battery chargers are meant to help maintain the life of a vehicle’s battery, but, those lacking “smart functionality” will continue pumping voltage in to the battery after it has reached maximum charge. This can result in shorts to the vehicle’s electrical systems, battery overheating, complete destruction of the battery’s ability to hold a charge, and in a few extreme cases recently reported even a battery fire.
One easy way to avoid this sort of damage is to invest in a smart battery charger. CTEK has become the world’s leading producer of these, although companies such as GENIUS have begun manufacturing comparable smart chargers as well. A “smart” charger functions in much the same way as a classic or standard battery charger, but with one large change: smart chargers are able to sense the level of charge that a battery has and, once it reaches full charge, they shut off the flow of voltage in to the battery. These smart chargers then go in to what is referred to as “trickle charging” mode, wherein they allow the battery to self drain down to 90 or 95% capacity before giving it another surge. This keeps the battery at full or near full charge without risk of ever overcharging it, and as result, the dangers that are associated with overcharging. Trickle charging works to keep the vehicle safe, and also to extend the life of the battery well beyond standard expectations.
If you’re still concerned with directly connecting to the battery as well, another solution exists—specifically for Corvette vehicles. Companies like SouthernCarParts.com sell both the CTEK and GENIUS battery chargers, as well as aviation style push-pull adapters for Corvettes. These push-pull Corvette charger adapters, deemed StealthLink, utilize smart charger connections and communicate the same information that the smart charger would see, but they go a step further. The StealthLink push-pull adapter uses a single pin plug—similar to a standard television cable wire—that connects the battery charger to the vehicle through a different port. This provides a buffer point between the voltage of the charger and the battery itself. Another benefit of these StealthLink aviation style charger adapters is the ease of use. Once installed, plugging the battery charger in no longer requires opening the hood or trunk to access the battery. This helps prevent sparking in the engine bay, where fires can easily be started.
For this reason, airplane manufacturers have been utilizing this form of battery maintenance connection point long before smart chargers were even available. The chargers themselves still function perfectly well, and should be invested in and used whenever possible, but now they have an easier and safer connection point than directly to the battery’s terminal points.
Jan-ulf Soderberg, the Head of Brand at CTEK said in his safety release, of the use of smart chargers, “With proper battery maintenance and care, motorists can ensure that their vehicles start first time as well as extending the lives of their batteries quite dramatically. CTEK smart chargers are particularly useful for cars that are used infrequently or left standing for long periods of time (i.e. over the winter), although everyday maintenance is advisable.”
It’s a shame to see beautiful vehicles destroyed by owners actively trying to take care of and maintain their vehicles. For this reason, CTEK and other companies have begun attempts to raise awareness of the dangers of bargain battery chargers, and applications such as the Corvette StealthLink have been developed. Use of these forms of battery charging is especially important for vehicles that are not driven every day. Cars which are stored, or which sit in garages for multiple weeks between drives, require smart charging to keep their vehicle functional and to extend the life of their automobile’s electrical components, as well as for the safety of them and their property.