It’s morning, you’re in a hurry, you’ve jumped in the car, hurriedly put the key in the ignition, closed the door and turned the key to be met with silence. Zilch, Zippo, nothing. Dead Battery. Most of us have done it.
In fact, a flat battery is one of the leading causes for road side assistance call outs. But surely we’re all not leaving our headlights on?
Top Causes of A Flat Battery
The lights are on but nobody’s home
We all know leaving the headlights on over night will drain the battery. But leaving the interior light on or the glove box open (causing the light to remain on) can also drain the battery. If you find your battery has drained overnight on more than one occasion and you’re certain it’s not because you’re a dill and keep leaving your lights on, it may be due to fault with one of the electrical items in the car such as the radio, cigarette lighter or electrical seats. An auto electrician will be able to do some testing and find the problem for you.
Use it or Loose It
Yep it’s true, NOT driving a car will cause the battery to go flat. Say what? Batteries have a natural self discharge or internal chemical leakage so over time the battery will fully discharge if not driven. Disconnecting the battery terminal is not the way to get around this. Modern cars all come with on-board computers which run the electrics, steering, transmission and security systems. These all require a continuous amount of power to operate them. Disconnecting the battery may cause these systems to fail even when the battery has been reconnected.
Aside from making sure the vehicle is being driven regularly, a maintenance charger can be connected which will keep the battery in good condition.
Oldie but a goodie – Or not?
An old battery will not perform as well and may lead to faster draining and issues when trying to start the vehicle. Batteries generally have a four to six-year lifespan – although it is recommended that they are replaced earlier to avoid major problems from occurring.
‘Old faithful’ is definitely not the case when it comes to car batteries.
Believe it or not, all batteries require water to be able to work efficiently. New maintenance free batteries should come with an indicator, and will need to be replaced or taken into an auto-electrician if water levels become low. Older style batteries can be manually checked and topped up. The cell caps can be easily removed and if the plates are exposed then the cells will need to be re-filled. Note: Only distilled, deionised or demineralised water should be used to refill a battery. Normal Tap water can cause further damage.
If the battery isn’t old, nothing is being left on overnight and the battery is still draining faster than the bosses Friday knock off beer then there could be a more serious fault with the battery or the cars alternator. The vehicle will need to be seen by an auto electrician or mechanic.