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Taking care of your car battery during the lockdown

During lockdown having a flat battery, or trying to find help or replacement, is going to be difficult. With dealerships and car service outlets forced to close, it’s a true case of prevention rather than cure.
Here are some useful tips to ensure the health of your car’s battery and to keep your vehicle running smoothly.

  1. Make sure all electronics in your car are switched off: lights, radio etc.
  2. Make sure doors, boot etc are shut to ensure that the door lights and warning systems are off.
  3. Start the vehicle every day and run the engine for FIVE minutes, if it’s in a garage make sure the garage doors are open.
  4. If possible and available, it is recommended to use a smart charger to keep the battery conditioned and charged.
  5. In a recreational vehicle, if possible, disconnect the battery, but only if you are technically capable and can reinstall it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. Where possible park the car in a cool spot to prevent exposure to high ambient temperature and consequent high self-discharge.
  7. If you suspect a problem with your battery, do not try to open it, or revive it or fill it.
  8. If you can measure the voltage of the battery (with a voltmeter) and if you can easily access the battery, measure the voltage every few days. If the voltage drops below 12.6V, it will need to be recharged by running the vehicle for 10 minutes.
  9. Should the vehicle not start, follow the vehicle and battery manufacturer’s jump-starting or push-starting instructions and run the vehicle for at least 15-30 minutes to recharge. If the battery is damaged and not just discharged, this may not help.
  10. The following are signs that your battery is on its way out and will have to be replaced after the lockdown: a) You hear grinding or a clicking sound when you turn on the ignition; b) The engine does not swing at all when you turn on the ignition; c) Your vehicle cranks slowly when attempting to start.; d) Your headlights dim when idling but brighten when you rev the engine.
  11. If your battery is still under warranty and it fails during the lockdown, make sure you have your proof of purchase for replacement after the lockdown. Do not attempt to repair, top up, overcharge or tamper with the battery in any way as this will void the warranty.
  12. If you need to replace the battery yourself follow the vehicle and battery manufacturer’s instructions on fitment. As a minimum, ensure the following: a) The battery is the correct size and for you make of vehicle; b) Battery terminals are clean; c) The terminal connectors are correctly torqued – if you cannot do this, tighten so that they do not slip but do not overtighten. Do not dispose of the old battery – it must be returned to a dealer for recycling.
  13. Perform regular visual inspections of the battery (where possible) – ensuring that the battery is clean and dry and shows no signs of swelling. Wipe down the battery to remove dirt and grease – this creates an insulation that can keep the battery hot.
  14. If you can access the battery, make sure that the terminals are not loose – a loose terminal will restrict the recharging of the battery.
  15. Limit or delay any DIY work on the vehicle until after lockdown. Any damage to the battery or electrical system could leave you stranded.
  16. Do not use the vehicle battery for any other application (like removing the battery and using it to power a TV) as this could damage the battery and leave you stranded. This will also void the warranty on the battery.
  17. After lockdown, have the battery tested.
  18. After lockdown, minimise short drives. Too many short drives won’t allow the battery to fully recharge.