How do you stop your car or van battery from going flat?
Your vehicle battery always seems to go flat at the most inconvenient time, you only find out when you try to open the car to go somewhere, usually in a rush, so we thought this article might help you if the battery is flat, and also give you a few tips to maintain a healthy battery.
The first thing to bear in mind is that a battery will not last forever, they usually have a serviceable life of between 4 and 6 years and you don't often get a warning to say that it is failing, it just happens.
What are the signs that the battery might be failing?
- When you go to switch the vehicle on, if it turns over slower than usual this is a sign that it is low on power.
- Your lights appear dim when the vehicle is idling and then brighten up when you rev the engine.
- Modern cars have a lot of technology in them, if your battery is low certain applications or features may not work as normal.
- A swollen battery, or mis-shapen one is a sign that it has internal damage to the electrodes.
- Warning symbols on the dashboard..
What can I do to keep my battery healthy?
- The best way to keep it healthy is to use the vehicle regularly for long trips, this will keep the charge high. Try and use it every 3 to 4 days.
- Avoid lots of stop start short journeys and if you do need to do these, then avoid using items that use high electrical load such as heated seats and the fan blower.
- Avoid leaving lights on unnecessarily or the door/boot open, even if the door looks closed the interior light can stay on.
- If you are going to leave your vehicle unused for a while, then investing in a Battery Conditioner will be a good idea, this will trickle charge your battery maintaining its condition.
- If you can keep your vehicle in a garage during the winter it will help, freezing conditions can decrease the life of a battery.
What to do if you get a flat battery?
If you are unfortunate to get a flat battery, then you have a few options, these include;
- Replacing the battery for a new one.
- Remove the battery and put it on charge, this usually takes 24 hours to do, assuming it will take a charge, but do not overcharge it.
- Use a portable jump pack, this is a 12V car battery that connects to your car battery.
- Connect to another vehicle with a set of jump leads and use the power to start yours.
If you are going to use a jump pack or jump leads to start the vehicle, then we recommend that you refer to your manufacturer’s manual beforehand. A sudden spike in voltage can cause damage to the car's electrical components such as the ECU, replacing this will end up costing more than a new battery.
How do I jump start my car?
- Locate the battery on each vehicle and ensure the jump leads can reach.
- Attach the Red lead to the positive terminal of the working battery first, then attach it to the positive terminal on the flat battery.
- Attach the Black lead to the negative terminal of the working battery first, then attach it to the earth mount or negative terminal on the flat battery.
- Start the working vehicle, then try the flat vehicle and see if it starts.
- Leave the two vehicles connected for a few minutes to allow more charge to pass, then remove the leads in reverse order.
If you are unsure about any of the above, we recommend you call your roadside assistance provider.