- Rating ★★★★★
- Price (RRP) £79.99
- Buy one at Amazon (price at time of publishing: £58.45)
WHEN IT comes to looking after our cars, most drivers think that a yearly service, monthly wash and the odd check of the oil and tyre pressures is all it takes to keep motors in tip top condition. But at the heart of any car is its battery, and if drivers don’t care for it then the chances are it will let them down when they were counting on their car the most.
Not using a vehicle very often is one way that batteries can lose their vim. To keep it healthy, you may need to invest in a battery charger.
The latest examples are sophisticated things, able to give your battery something akin to a health check before deciding how best to recharge, maintain and protect them over time. They are also easy to connect, automatic and deliver a precisely measured voltage that prevents unwelcome current surge that can fry a car’s many electronic systems.
One of the market leaders in this field is CTEK. A Swedish company, which began in 1997, it says that by caring for a car battery, it is possible to extend its operating life by two to three times.
Given that even the most affordable, reputable brand car battery costs from £60, that’s an appreciable saving for those that intend to keep a car for a long time, such as car enthusiasts and their pride and joy machines.
We put CTEK’s MXS 5.0 charger to the test. Billed as a “smart charger”, the 5 amp unit is sturdy and well made (much more so than other chargers I have owned over the years) with a welded casing, a fair length lead and the ability to operate in temperatures ranging from -20C to +50C, as well as compensate its voltage according to ambient temperature.
It’s also easy to operate, with a large “mode” button and series of bright and clear indicator lamps. And when you don’t need it, a handy storage bag is included.
The clever thing about the MXS 5.0 is that it can be used for small, normal or larger batteries, so a motorbike, lawnmower, car, or even a boat or tractor can all be accommodated for.
All you have to do is attach the crocodile clips to the battery, which is left in place in the vehicle, switch on the mains supply and let CTEK’s box of tricks do the rest. It then cycles through a seven stage process that’s designed to clean, charge and maintain the battery. There’s also a separate reconditioning program, which helps bring older, worn out batteries back to life.
We put the latter to the test on a worn out battery, and it worked a treat. There’s also enough oomph from the charger to not let alarms and vehicle tracking systems drain the battery. All in all, it’s a clever piece of kit that does what it says on the tin: charge your battery and keep it in tip top condition.
It also comes with a five year warranty, which together with the generally impressive performance and robust construction make this a good investment that justifies its premium price.