The current restrictions have had an impact on almost everything, including your car. Cars are designed to be used, and probably just like you, they don’t like being ‘locked down’. One thing which suffers, in particular, is your battery. Your battery can drain even when you aren’t using the car. In this article, we’ll look at some top tips to keep your car battery in tip-top condition so that you’ll be able to enjoy getting out and about (eventually).
Why Your Car Battery Needs Attention
If (just like its owner) the car is sat cold and isolated, the battery can still discharge. Here are some things that need battery power to run:
- Your electric handbrake
- Your stereo
- Your wipers
- Your windows
- The lights
And not forgetting, of course, the ignition. Without battery power, you are not going to be able to start your car. The snag comes in the fact that to charge the battery, you need to run your car. If you can’t start the car, then you can’t charge the battery. It’s a never-ending loop (much like the current government ‘guidance’.)
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Why does a Car Battery Drain?
Ok, so both you and the car have been sat dormant for some time (although the car doesn’t drink quite as much midweek). So why does the battery drain? You may be surprised to know that the car still has systems that need constant battery power. Whilst none of them use a lot, this constant drain adds up. It would normally be replenished in the course of day to day use of the car... But, you know… ‘Lockdown’ (yeah, thanks Boris).
So, what’s the answer?
How to Look After Your Car Battery | Our Lockdown ‘Guidance.’
Is your battery in need of some lockdown guidance? Here are some easy steps to keep your car battery charged:
Perform a Health Check | (Look for Corrosion and use Battery Conditioner)
Battery terminals are metal, and like all metals, they can start accumulating deposits of corrosion. Keep an eye out for blue-green ‘rust’ on your battery terminals. This can affect the power going into and out of your battery. You can clean away battery connector corrosion very easily.
Your car may have been parked since lockdown began so a battery conditioner may save you from a flat battery and help restore the capacity after its performance drops. Battery conditioners dissolve sulphur deposits that build electrical resistance on the plates of batteries, the resistance stops the battery from holding a full charge making it seem as though it is dying. Make sure to check your vehicle handbook if the conditioner is applicable for your vehicle and condition your car battery in a dry environment.
Isolate! | (Disconnect your Battery)
If the battery is disconnected, it can’t discharge. Put your battery ‘in isolation’ by disconnecting the terminals. Before taking this step, be aware that some systems (such as an electric parking brake and car alarm) don’t like being disconnected. If in doubt, seek the advice of a qualified professional. (And be sure to promise your battery it will only be isolated for a few weeks)
Stay Indoors! | (Keep Your Battery Warm)
Batteries discharge quicker in the cold. If possible, keep your car somewhere that is slightly warmer. A few degrees can make the difference in how a battery holds its charge, and a garage is better than outside in the elements.
Regular Exercise! | (Run your Engine)
Now we aren’t advocating unessential travel (whatever that means). But you can charge the battery by having your engine ticking over for 15 minutes twice a week. Ensure that you do this in a well-ventilated outdoor space.
Use Your Support Bubble! | (Also Known as Jump Leads)
If your battery is flat, consider investing in a set of jump leads as a final resort. They are relatively cheap, and you can use the power of someone else’s battery to get your car going and then charge your battery. If your battery is flat, don’t keep trying to start the car. This is only going to drain your battery further and make the problem worse.
Time for a New Battery?
(Unlike Boris and his pals) sometimes it’s good to try something new. If your battery is old or you find that it is losing charge quickly, it might be time to treat yourself to a new battery. If you consider how much you’ll be (hopefully) using the car in the future, they are actually great value and aren’t expensive.
Like all car parts (and probably its owner), your car battery needs a little love and attention. Cars aren’t manufactured to sit still for large amounts of time. By caring for your battery during lockdown, you can ensure that when the time comes for that ‘long drive’ you’ve been planning, your motor will be in the best possible shape to allow you to do so.