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Why Is It Important to Reset Battery Registration?

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 4/19/2023

An employee using a tool to reset the battery registration

Installing a new battery is a pretty simple process. You locate the battery, disconnect and remove it and install the new battery. You're done, right? In most cases, yes, you have successfully installed a new battery. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. In some cases though, you aren't finished. If you own a newer Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and now some Chevrolet and other American brands, you may have to perform one last step for a successful installation, battery registration.

What is Battery Registration?

Stop for a moment and think about all of the electrical components in your vehicle. There's a lot, right? You've got heated seats, power windows, power locks, touchscreen infotainment systems, and systems like stop-start, Intelligent braking and much more. The electrical system in a modern vehicle is so complex, and the performance of your battery has a lot to do with those features working correctly or at all.

Some newer vehicles are equipped with a battery management system (BMS) that allows the electrical system to adapt as the battery ages so your electronics work efficiently and correctly at all stages of the car battery life cycle. The BMS also modifies the charging system to charge the battery properly as the battery degrades over time.

This is where battery registration comes into play. Skip ahead a few years to when your battery needs to be replaced. When a new battery is installed, the battery registration needs to be reset to the original parameters so the new battery is charged correctly and all of the electronic features in the car receive the appropriate electrical current to work correctly. If the registration is not reset, the BMS will continue to operate as if the old battery is still installed.

Why is Registration Only Required on Certain Vehicles?

Battery registration was initially only seen on European vehicles like Mini, BMW, Audi and more. Most of those vehicles were equipped with advanced safety features and fuel-saving features that required an advanced electrical system. Battery registration has quickly spread across the globe and almost all automakers have vehicles that have this requirement.

A good rule of thumb to determine if your vehicle requires battery registration is, if your vehicle has stop-start technology or intelligent battery sensors (IBS) to monitor the battery state, then your car or truck will probably require battery registration.

Do I Have to Register My New Battery?

In short, yes. While the car or truck will still start if you don't reset the registration, the BMS will continue to operate using the parameters of the old battery. This doesn't sound like much but this can lead to some new problems for you.

What Happens if I Don't Register My New Battery?

Installing a new battery in your vehicle that requires registration without completing the registration process can result in:

  • Overcharging - The charging system may overcharge the battery causing excess gassing. On flooded batteries that require watering, this could cause the electrolyte levels to drop, exposing the plates to essentially kill the battery. On sealed batteries, this could cause the battery to burst, causing considerable damage to the vehicle or even you if you are near it when it happens.
  • Undercharging - The BMS could undercharge the new battery causing sulfation. Lead sulfite crystals will accumulate on the plates, resulting in loss of power, longer charging times and shorter life, to name just a few consequences of battery sulfation.
  • Use more fuel - If the BMS isn't reset to recognize the new battery, the start-stop system may not work properly in your car causing the engine to continue to run and use more fuel when stopped at red lights.
  • Major electrical problems - Failing to register a new battery could result in blown fuses, system failures and electrical system glitches. Many of these problems will be accompanied by warning lights on your dashboard. In some rare cases, you could even have issues with starting the vehicle.

How is Registration Completed?

Battery registration is reset by using a handheld tool that connects to the vehicle's OBD-II port under the dashboard. This device communicates with the vehicle's computer and can update the battery registration of the vehicle.

The entire process takes only about a minute once the device is connected to the car and is a foolproof way to get the most life out of your new battery in vehicles with high-tech electronics.

Where Can I Go to Have My Battery Registration Reset?

Battery registration used to only be able to be completed at dealerships and could cost a hefty amount. Sometimes adding hundreds of dollars on top of the new battery. But not anymore.

Drive on over to your local Batteries Plus, where you can purchase a new battery for your car or truck, have it expertly installed on most vehicles, and at some locations have the registration reset without having to step foot into a car dealership. As a bonus, you can have it all done at a fraction of the cost of going to a dealership.

It's important to note that this service is not yet available at all Batteries Plus locations. Please contact your store ahead of time to see if it is available near you.

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