24th Jun, 2019
Your car battery is one of the most crucial components of your vehicle, which means there’s nothing worse than realising there might be a serious problem with it. One of the most common scenarios is finding that it repeatedly goes flat, for no clear reason. But don’t be too quick to go scrapping a car, as there might be a relatively simple explanation. Here, we’ve summed up some of the key ways you can avoid (and possibly fix) battery problems with your vehicle, so that you can ensure you’re always the one ‘in charge!’
Taking your car for a quick spin down the road to the shops might seem tempting if it’s a particularly lazy Sunday. Unfortunately though, car batteries are generally under the most strain when they’re doing short, frequent journeys. This is because although your car’s alternator charges the battery when you’re driving, short journeys don’t give it enough time to do its job properly. Over a long enough period, this leads to your battery gradually losing charge, which is why ultimately you may be surprised to find it not charging at all one rainy Monday morning.
Happily, it’s a scenario that’s avoided easily enough, just by avoiding using your car for frequent ten or fifteen minute journeys. If you can’t, it’s worth doing one or two longer journeys occasionally, just to give your alternator time to do its job.
It sounds like a simple enough check, but how many of us have walked past parked cars in the street with their headlamps still on? It’s an easy mistake which can cause a car’s battery to be drained if left long enough (say, overnight). It doesn’t have to be the headlights either – the battery can equally be drained by something plugged into a USB port, or the 12v supply. Leaving interior lights on is another equally common oversight, which can have frustrating consequences. For these reasons alone, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of thoroughly checking that all the electrics have been switched off – especially in the warmer months, where brighter sunshine can make active electrics harder to spot.
If you find that your battery is still draining even if you’re making sure to turn off all the electronics, you may have what’s called a ‘parasitic drain’. In other words, some circuits may be active and draining the battery even when the rest of the car is switched off. If you think your vehicle may be suffering from this issue, it’s always wise to get it to a professional as soon as possible!
As with most vehicle related problems, it can also help if you know how to identify the issue yourself, even if only roughly. As far as a mechanic is concerned, it could all be helpful information! Clicking noises when you turn the ignition, fading dashboard lights or the engine turning over repeatedly are all possible signs that your car battery is flatter than it should be. If you can tell that these issues might be linked to the battery, we’d advise against trying to battle through it and starting the engine anyway. This will only cause the battery even more damaged! And of course, one of the most important bits of advice we can give…
There’s no better person to tell what’s wrong with your car than a professional mechanic, so be sure that one of them gets to see your vehicle on a regular basis. They’ll be able to tell whether the issues are down to the alternator, starting systems or charging systems for the car and battery. Depending on their condition, they can end up causing the battery to be overcharged, undercharged or not even charged at all. None of those are ideal scenarios!
An overworked engine or poorly inflated tyres are more symptoms of a vehicle in poor repair, both of which can end up putting strain on the battery. When it comes right down to it, it comes down to that same timeless bit of advice – if you notice an issue, don’t wait too long to get it repaired. It could end up costing you even more money and hassle in the long run!
That’s not to say you should get your car repaired indefinitely though. Let’s be honest – there comes a time in a car’s life when the costs of repair outweigh its value. When that happens, you’ll be glad to hear that we’re right there for you here at Scrap Car Network. Just enter your car reg and postcode onto our homepage to get an instant online valuation of your car!