Most people’s understanding of a car battery is that it somewhat takes care of itself; as long as the car is running, the battery is generating power. This is partly true however it doesn’t stop the 500,000 plus battery related breakdowns the RAC alone attends every year. So what’s going on?
Batteries are among the most neglected components by car owners. People think that there will always be power, so long as the engine is running. This isn’t always the case… Because of this car battery related problems rank highly as one of the most common car breakdown causes. In fact an RAC study found that battery problems came 2nd and 3rd only to punctured tires.
What causes a flat battery?
- Leaving lights/electrics on
- Very hot/cold weather – This can adversely affect the battery, limiting how much energy if can generate and can even cause damage to the battery itself
- Frequent short trips do not give your car battery long enough to fully recharge
- Not using the car for several days or weeks
- The car/battery is old. Some batteries may begin to deteriorate at around 5 years
- Alternator problems can lead to over or under charging
- Corrosion around the terminals can affect the battery’s ability to charge
So you know what can cause battery problems and potentially lead to a breakdown situation, but what can you do to help avoid this eventuality?
Tips to avoid a flat battery
- Don’t use the car often? Try to take it for a run at least once per week to keep everything working. Think of it as ‘exercise’ for your car.
- Be wary of hot weather, particularly if you know your battery is coming to the end of its life. Aim to keep your car in the shade or in a garage to prevent long exposure to the heat (which could adversely affect your battery).
- Keep a car battery charger in your car – It could get you out of a sticky situation .
- Buy a good quality battery. Always check you are purchasing the correct battery for your vehicle. Your handbook will tell you the correct battery specifications to look for.
- Make sure all electricals are turned off when switching off the engine It is best for your electrical system to have these components off when the engine is started, besides the fact that leaving them running could drain the battery.
Don’t take the risk, have a backup plan should something go wrong! If you don’t have breakdown insurance make sure you have a reputable breakdown recovery provider in your phone should you ever have the need.