A few basic battery checks will help ensure your car engine starts when you need it, says GEM Motoring Assist.
During the current period of lockdown, only essential journeys are permitted, so many drivers will be using their cars much less and mostly just for local journeys. Others will have decided not to drive at all.
A period of cold weather potentially causes difficulty for cars, batteries and the drivers who rely on them.
GEM chief executive Neil Worth says every battery is potentially at risk if it’s not being used. “Our recovery agents attend more calls to flat batteries than any other car breakdown.
“If your car battery is getting old, you may find it’s simply not strong enough to start the engine. However, new batteries may let you down if they have been unused for a long period of time.
“Cold weather slows everything down – including the chemical reactions that take place inside car batteries. It’s estimated that when the temperature is at 0 degrees Celsius, a battery loses 35% of its effectiveness.
“Yet so much of the equipment on your car demands electricity – meaning it’s more important than ever to ensure your battery is ready to cope with the increased demands placed on it in cold weather.
It’s important to remember that a battery doesn’t last forever – in fact its average life is five years, so be ready to replace it as a matter of routine when the time comes; don’t wait for it to let you down.
Signs of battery trouble
- If the engine won’t start, but you hear a slight noise from under the bonnet, the chances are your battery is flat.
- If you hear nothing at all, it’s likely to be either a loose connection on the battery, or the battery has no charge left at all.
- If your car has remote central locking (via a button on the key fob), then this won’t work if the battery is flat.
What to do about it
- Check when your car battery was last replaced. Car service centres and garages are allowed to remain open during the current lockdown, so you should be able to book your car in for a battery check and replacement.
- If you have a second vehicle available – and a set of good quality jump leads – then it may be possible to jump start the car. Just remember to leave the engine of both vehicles running for several minutes after you’ve successfully started your car. Also, switch off both engines before removing the jump leads.
- If you plan not to drive for the foreseeable future, it may be worth considering a trickle charger you can attach to the battery. Trickle chargers work by releasing a small amount of current to match your car battery’s natural discharge rate.