Car battery failure is one of the leading causes of vehicle breakdown in the UK. Over the past year, the covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns and travel restrictions have meant that drivers across the UK have used their cars less than usual. Whilst this may offer some positives in the form of reduced mileage, fuel consumption, and less general wear and tear on tyres and other components, there are, however, negative consequences that occur as a result of infrequent use – one of which is the battery.
Using a vehicle less frequently and only for short trips can increase the likelihood of battery failure – meaning the engine will not start. It may be possible to jump-start the vehicle if there is another car nearby at your disposal or alternatively, roadside assistance can take the car to your local garage where the battery can be replaced.
Why Does A Car Battery Go Flat?
Infrequent Use and Short Trips
There are several reasons that may cause a car battery to go flat – one of which is that the vehicle is used less frequently and only for short trips. This means that the battery does not have the opportunity to sufficiently charge and may therefore have insufficient power to charge the engine. When a car is used on a regular basis, this means its battery has the chance to charge to full power.
The older the battery, the less likely it is to be able to hold its charge. The average life of a battery is between 5 and 7 years – anything older than this becomes more prone to failure. Although faults can occur with newer batteries.
Corrosion on the battery terminals can occur over time and damage the battery.
Batteries can become drained if any other equipment is on when the engine is not in use, this includes, for example, sitting in the car whilst leaving the radio and interior lights on. Or it may be whilst cleaning the car that the radio is left on. Also leaving any devices or accessories plugged in may also drain the battery.
Batteries do not function as well during cold snaps of weather – this is something that is even more likely to affect older batteries.
Preserving the Life of Your Car Battery
- If and where possible, it is a good idea to start the engine and drive the car for 20 – 30 minutes, reaching speeds of 50 mph plus, at least once a week. This will allow your battery to fully recharge to its capacity.
- Avoid starting the engine during cold snaps or early in the morning if possible, especially so if it is only for a short trip.
- Check the age of your battery – if it is reaching the 5-year mark it may be a good idea to take it for a battery health check.
- Many garages offer battery health tests – this is a helpful way of finding out the condition of the battery and identifying any issues before they cause a problem. This test not only checks the general condition of the battery, its charging rate and voltage output, but also its starting and charging systems.
For more information on our free battery check and other services, get in touch today with Longmynd Service Station.