When you’re about to set off on a journey – or you’re in the middle of one – the last thing you want is for your car battery to let you down. So, what can you do to ensure that your car battery stays healthy?

Why it’s worth looking after your car battery

  • A bad car battery can be expensive: If your battery fails completely, then you could be looking at a costly bill to get a replacement installed as new batteries don’t come cheap.
  • A bad car battery can be inconvenient: You’re unlikely to be trying to start your car unless you’ve got somewhere specific to be. A flat battery creates an inconvenient situation, particularly if you don’t have the equipment to hand to get your car going again.
  • A bad car battery can leave you stranded: If battery failure strikes when you’re already out and about, you could end up stranded. Unless you’ve had the foresight to invest in the right equipment – or if your car battery’s completely dead – you could be looking at a long, lonely wait for the breakdown service to arrive.

Why car batteries go flat

Simply put, a component called an alternator draws power from a running engine to automatically recharge a car battery. So, if you haven’t driven your car for a while then the alternator hasn’t had chance to charge up your battery and your engine may not start.

You might be wondering why a battery would go flat in the first place, particularly if it’s not being used. Well, batteries naturally lose a small amount of charge whether they’re in use or not and higher outside temperatures can make this process worse. Cold weather can have an effect too, slowing your car battery down and reducing its capacity to hold a charge.

Electronics like your car alarm and any immobilisers also drain the battery, and the more you have of this type of equipment, the quicker it will drain. The age of your car is another factor, with older batteries more vulnerable to lack of use and newer cars putting more strain on their batteries in general.

Our article on Common Car Battery Problems provides a great overview of the various factors that can cause a battery to fail, so be sure to check it out for more info.

Car battery care tips

Invest in a smart battery charger

Smart battery chargers are a cost-effective and convenient way of keeping your battery healthy, particularly if you’re not able to take your car out for a drive that often. We’d generally recommend using a battery charger every two weeks to ensure that your battery’s charge remains topped up.

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Drive for at least 30 minutes

As we mentioned above, driving your car charges your battery. What you might not know is that you actually need to make journeys of at least 30 minutes for this to be effective. Running your engine for five minutes a day isn’t enough and could actually have an adverse effect on your battery because it takes a large amount of power to start your engine.

Monitor the appearance of your battery

This is a quick and easy one – you just need to pop your hood and have a look at your battery every so often to make sure that everything’s okay. If you spot any leaks or visible damage, then we’d recommend getting your battery checked out as soon as you can. Our Free Battery Health Check is a great starting point.

Keep an eye on the temperature

Winter can be a particularly hard season on car batteries. Cold temperatures have an adverse effect on the chemical process within batteries that produces and stores electricity, slowing the battery down and reducing its capacity to hold a charge.

Check out our article on how to keep a car battery warm in winter for some top tips on how to avoid this situation.

Be aware of the age of your battery

Batteries have a finite lifespan, so there may come a time when you need to replace your battery because it’s simply worn out. The majority of car batteries are designed to last between 5 and 7 years and you can find the date that your battery was manufactured stamped on the battery itself.

If you do need a new battery, then our online vehicle registration checker will help you to find the perfect replacement for your vehicle. We can also fit it for you for a small fee – simply select the fitting option during the checkout process.

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