Simple steps to avoid a flat battery in the face of winter lockdown double whammy

Drivers are being urged to take some simple measures to ensure they aren’t caught out by a flat car battery this winter.

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Flat batteries are particularly common during winter as colder temperatures and increased use of lighting and heating systems put additional strain on them. This year, the prospect of cars going unused for weeks at a time threatens to cause problems for even more drivers.

Drivers in England are at particular risk due to the current lockdown but motorists in other parts of the UK are still being encouraged to limit their movement if possible. And a lack of use coupled with the falling temperatures across the country could spell trouble for many drivers in coming weeks.

LV= Britannia Rescue has revealed that during the first lockdown battery-related callouts were up almost 30 per cent and, on average, battery problems jump 38 per cent in November and December compared with the period between April and October.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Henry Topham, managing director of LV= Britannia Rescue, commented: “Suffering a flat battery can happen to any car, particularly at this time of year, but it usually happens when it hasn’t been driven for a period of time, or only gone on short journeys.

"The introduction of a second lockdown, and the combination of cold days and dark afternoons and evenings, means lots of cars may end up sitting on the street or the drive for large parts of the next month. You don’t want to be in a situation where you urgently need to get somewhere and the car won’t start, so it’s really important to keep an eye on your vehicle and try to keep it ticking over.”

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Top tips to keep your battery in tip-top condition

Drive your car or turn the engine over

Short drives, especially from cold, aren’t good for the battery as they don’t allow enough time for the alternator to sufficiently charge it. If you can, take the car for a drive of at least 15 minutes to allow some charging to take place. If this isn’t possible, start the engine and let it idle for the same amount of time. Remember, if your car is on a public road, you’ll need to stay with it throughout.

Take the pressure off

Modern cars have lots of electronics that put strain on the battery. Try switching off as many of these as you can. It will reduce the risk of the battery going flat while the car’s stationary and reduce demand on the battery when you start the car. Also, depress the clutch when you start the car. This lessens the strain on the starter motor, which in turn puts less demand on the battery.

Check your battery’s age and condition

Most batteries are stamped with a production date, telling you how old a unit is. Those over five years old can be more likely to fail, especially if you are only making short or infrequent trips. You can also buy tools to check the charge status of your battery so you know if it needs charged.

Charge it

If you have a driveway or garage consider getting a trickle charger. These can be hooked up to your car’s battery and left to monitor and maintain its charge while the car isn’t in use. If your battery won’t hold a charge or goes flat quickly after charging it could be time to replace it.

If, even after following this advice you come out to find your car has a flat battery then follow our guide on how to safely jump start a car here.