As a result of lockdown measures, thousands of people have parked their cars up for the foreseeable future, only venturing out to buy essentials. With the number of journeys dropping, it means that vehicles simply aren’t being used as much – and that’s bad news for batteries.
You see, batteries don’t like sitting idle. Think of all of the things a car requires energy for, even when it’s switched off – the alarm system, immobiliser and even the clock requires power. Though during normal use these don’t cause much of a drain on a battery, over time they will have an effect on how easily a battery can get your car going.
And with people only making short journeys at most, batteries aren’t getting as much charge as normal. In fact, Kwik Fit recently announced that over the last four weeks its requests for new batteries have been close to double the usual rate for this time of year. Battery failures have soared to levels usually seen in January, in fact. So how do you look after your battery?
Fortunately, we’ve got some tips. Plus, if you’d like some advice on how to thoroughly look after your car during lockdown, then take a look at our guide on how to do this here.
Start and run your car two times a week
If you’re not using your car at all, then it’s a good idea to start it up once or twice a week and let it run for at least 15 minutes. Make sure you’re staying in the car while you’re doing this too. Monitor the temperature of the car and make sure it rises up enough to hit the middle – it means you’ve warmed the engine up enough.
Run your car during the middle of the day
It might sound strange, but running your car in the middle of the day as opposed to first thing in the morning can help extend the life of the battery. Starting a car in colder temperatures requires more ‘draw’ – or energy – from the battery, essentially giving it a harder time in getting the car going.
Warmer temperatures ease the load on the battery, therefore extending its life. Easy!
Think about buying a trickle charger
Though this isn’t a viable option for those who park their cars on the street, if your vehicle is remaining static on a driveway or in a garage then a trickle charger is a wise investment. Plugged into your home electricity supply and attached to your car’s battery, it ‘trickles’ energy into the car, ensuring your battery stays topped up.
If you’re going down this route, ensure you follow all equipment and manufacturer guidelines.
Check for corrosion
Much like other parts of a car, a battery can suffer from corrosion. Check under the bonnet (or in some cars in the boot) and make sure that there’s no visible corrosion on the battery’s terminals. If there is, clean it away and make sure that there’s a good connection between vehicle and battery.
What happens if I have got a flat battery?
Of course, any number of preventative steps can’t fully stop a battery from going flat. If that happens, then here are some of the things to do.
Listen out and look
A flat battery is usually signified by clicking noises and the dashboard lights flickering or going dim. The engine will struggle to turn over too – they’re all signs of a flat battery.
Don’t keep trying
Though it might be tempting to keep trying to crank the engine, this can do more harm than good. You’ll only draw even more charge from the battery, and you could leave it completely flat.
Jump start the car if possible
Jump starting the car is the most popular way to get it going again. It requires you to attach a set of jump leads to your car’s battery terminals and then connect the opposite ends to the terminals of a running car’s battery. This transfers energy from the running car into the dead one and usually gives it enough of a boost to get the car going. This does, of course, require a running car.
Another method is through the use of a jump pack. You can purchase these online, and they’re akin to the portable batteries you use to power up a phone – albeit on a slightly more powerful scale. Doing without the need for another car, these packs are clipped on to the battery terminals and are quite effective at getting a vehicle going.
If in doubt, call the professionals
Working with batteries is a serious business and you need to be really careful when doing so. If you’re unsure about any part of the process – leave it out. It’s always better to call a professional breakdown company or a trusted mechanic to help you. It’s not worth risking your health or risk damaging the car, either.