When it comes to looking after your car and keeping it running in tip-top condition, battery life is one of the areas which most drivers don’t think they have any control over. If a battery dies it will be blamed on a faulty unit or electrical issues.
However, that is not the correct picture, as driving habits also have a big impact on battery life and performance and certain poor habits really can wreck your car’s battery and cause havoc under your bonnet.
It is evidenced by the fact that even brand new cars with brand new batteries suffer from battery issues, where it clearly can’t be blamed on the age of the battery or a factory defect generally.
As battery break downs cause car break downs it’s important to do everything you can in your power to work with your car and avoid the habits which create battery problems.
For this post we asked our friends from BigMotoringWorld.co.uk to give us their tips on the five bad habits which can ruin your car battery:
1. Leaving items on when the car is off
One of the most common reasons for batteries to fail is leaving anything on when the car is off. This includes lights, the radio, air conditioner and stereo. All of these things will drain the battery very quickly.
Leaving gadgets on to charge up while the car is off, like a phone or sat nav, is another sure fire way to run your battery out very quickly and result in a dead car in the morning. Make sure everything is switched off when you are not driving your car and never leave anything charging in the car overnight.
2. Only ever driving short journeys
Cars need to be driven regularly and for long periods of time to allow the battery to fully charge and then to work efficiently. If you only drive short journeys all the time, the battery will suffer and it will lead to a shorter battery life.
Driving short distances regularly is the biggest reason for battery failure leading to car break downs. If you are only driving short distances and also leaving items on when the car is not running, your battery really doesn’t stand a chance.
3. An unsecured battery
If you have changed the battery in your car it’s really important to make sure it is secured back in place properly as driving with a loose battery is another way to damage it and cause problems for your car.
If your battery is not secure or is loose, whenever your drive your car the resulting vibration will inevitably cause the battery to fail. If you are driving regularly on uneven roads it will get worse as the jolts will damage the components inside the battery and lead to corrosion and then battery failure.
4. Turning your lights on first
When you get into your car, particularly when it’s dark, it can seem natural to put the lights on first, before you start the engine, however, this is another way to reduce the life of your battery over time.
When you turn on the car lights first, without switching on the car, you are drawing power from the battery straight away. It won’t cause your battery to fail in the short term but it will drain your battery more quickly. You should always turn the engine on first.
5. Failure to maintain the car
Your car battery should be checked over routinely, every time your car goes through a maintenance check such as a service. You need to make sure your battery is at its optimum working capacity at all times.
If you can, invest in a battery where you are able to top it up and check levels yourself, in between services, that way you can see exactly what condition your battery is in and hopefully spot and deal with any issues before they turn into problems.
All sorts of things can cause problems to car batteries but these are the five key ones which sit firmly within the control of the driver. It makes sense to do everything we physically can to keep our cars on the road all year round.
So by avoiding these five bad habits, and keeping our cars in good condition, it should be completely possible to avoid battery failures and problems which lead to regular breakdowns.
You should also replace your battery according to the manufacturers’ instructions as all batteries have limited lives so when you next have your car serviced ask the garage when the battery is due to be replaced.
But simple changes to driving habits like never turning the lights on before the engine, and never leaving gadgets to charge up in the car overnight, will go a long way to helping to make your battery last the lifetime it is meant to last.
© James Burke 2019