Car Batteries - How To Look After Them.
You might sit there and think that when you turn a key in the ignition (old school) of your car or press the start button to get the car started that it all happens by magic. However, the reality is there’s a bit more going on.
The spark of energy which gets all automobiles going, even the electric ones, is the starter / auxiliary battery which allows you to unlock and get into the vehicle and start the engine or engage the motors on electric cars.
Electric cars have a "battery" the same as a conventional car, they are used in the same way, unlocking doors or turning the ignition on etc, in this guide we're going to concentrate on petrol and diesel-powered vehicles, but do be mindful of the condition of your electric vehicles’ auxiliary battery.
So why are we talking about this now? Well, there’s several reasons. In the words of Ned Stark "Winter is Coming" and batteries notoriously do take a beating in the colder months, luckily we have a blog post all about looking after your battery in winter, worth a read, please just don’t lick the terminals to see if it's charged, it's nothing like a 9v smoke alarm battery.
The second revolves around the lack of use of the car. Not using a car can contribute to a flat battery. Without going overly, too deep into the mechanics of an internal combustion engine, but when it's running the alternator is charging the battery. If you've stopped using your vehicle to conserve fuel as comedian and co-presenter of ‘Parenting Hell’, Josh Widdicombe did during the recent fuel shortages, you run the risk of letting your battery go flat.
We understand the dilemma - you're in a catch 22 situation - do you run the vehicle (using fuel) to charge the battery or chance your arm at it holding a charge and being ok.
After listening to the Tuesday 12th October episode of "Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe's Parenting Hell" and sat crying with laughter in the M60 traffic, I don’t know if the person next to me was concerned for my welfare or praying for traffic to clear quickly, so the grown man crying next to them could move, anyways back to the point in hand - Flat batteries.
If you're not going to use your car for a while, it might be worth investing in a trickle or maintenance charger, these plug into the house electrics with a standard 3 pin plug and connect to the battery via crocodile clips, and yes, they do hurt if you catch your finger in them.
Red is Positive (+ve) and Black is Negative (-ve)
Manufactures have buried and hidden batteries in all manner of places on cars over recent years, so if it is not under the bonnet try the boot, if you're unsure speak to your garage or supplying dealer.
If you ask nicely, they might be able to accommodate fitting a special charging fly lead, which takes the mystery out of putting the crocodile clips on the battery, the leads come with a one-way fitting plug, you can't get it wrong. C-Tek make the best user-friendly chargers and have a built-in circuity to maintain the battery when it's connected and turned on, you fit and forget. Unless you're driving away, leave a note on the steering wheel it's on charge, the carnage caused by forgetting is worth the stick you'll get for having a note to remember, trust me!!
Fuel shortages aside, using the car is the best way of charging the battery, having items on such as the heater, demister, wipers and lights negate most of the charge you've placed back into the battery. Pick your time and try and use as few of the electrical items as possible. Especially on a vehicle that is low on charge, for at least the first 30mins of a long drive.
Shorter drives are pointless in charging the battery, you need a good 30mins plus to really top it up in the colder months, doing a long drive twice a month will keep you motoring during winter.
If the battery keeps going flat, ask a garage or an autofactors to check its condition. With age batteries do come to the end of their serviceable life, alternators can also fail and stop charging completely or supply a lower than required charge, they'll be able to check its output at the same time, as the battery condition.
If you're looking for somewhere to go on these drives and have fun or make a day of it. We've got a selection of the best driving roads in England, Scotland and Wales, check the weather if you decide to use one of the routes, they do tend to go to more remote places, and don’t take a car that's been completely flat on one of these routes, best to take a car that's starting fine and you're going a preventive 'top-up' drive out.
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