Hundreds of thousands of motorists are taking years off the life expectancy of their car’s battery by not regularly fully charging it, says the AA Rescue, which not only costs money but also risks the inconvenience of a breakdown.
Every year, up to a fifth of cars on the road will require a new battery, estimates AA Rescue, but many of these could have been prevented by being fully charged more frequently.
The problem stems from batteries taking longer to fully charge, while being placed under greater demand by modern cars, which are being fitted with an ever increasing range of power-hungry ‘creature comforts’.
Noel Keogh, Head of AA Rescue says: “It takes a lot longer to fully charge a modern car battery than many people realise – typically 240 miles/385 kilometres of driving with no load or eight hours of continuous driving – which can unfortunately lead to problems.
“If you only make short stop-start journeys, the battery won’t have the chance to fully charge, which will considerably shorten its life. We see cases where the battery has failed after only two to three years rather than the usual five to six, as a result of only doing short journeys.
“At the same time, although battery technology has improved, they are made to work harder than ever before, as a modern car draws around three times as much electrical current as a 1970s Morris Minor. The days of cars being fitted with wind-up windows are long gone and most new cars come with an assortment of electrical driver aids.
“This demand on the battery is why they’re still our most common call-out after more than 100 years, accounting for around 30% of breakdowns.” Says Noel.
Give your battery a chance
To help prevent problems, Noel says: “Regular long runs in the car could double your battery’s life. Another simple habit drivers should do, particularly in cold weather is to make sure everything electrical is turned off to help take some load off the starter motor and, in turn, the battery. However, if your car struggles to start and your battery is more than five years old, it’s on borrowed time, so get it replaced. It’s better to be done at your convenience than as a roadside emergency.”
Last year, Ireland’s biggest breakdown organisation attended around 48,600 battery-related breakdowns and replaced around 3,500 batteries. 527 of these were during December alone, as the cold weather bit.
AA Battery Assistance
To help all motorists, the AA can now fit a battery on the spot at any time both in non-breakdown and breakdown situations for AA Members.
AA patrols are fully qualified and the AA has invested €53,000 in state-of-the-art battery testing equipment for its patrols that provides a quick and accurate diagnosis of a battery’s health. All the batteries that the AA removes at the roadside are taken back for recycling.
Note to editors;
A Morris Minor in the 1970s needed around 21A, a modern mid-size car uses as much as 65A.
Flat or faulty battery
- Most common problems are caused by terminals and clamp connections or by a loss of voltage, often caused by constant use on short journeys without regular recharging;
- At every service, check that the terminals have been cleaned and protected from corrosion with a layer of petroleum jelly or grease. Clamps and connections must be secure;
- If you seldom make a long journey, a fortnightly overnight charge prolongs battery life. Modern ‘intelligent’ chargers/battery conditioners can be left connected without risk of overcharging;
- Modern maintenance-free batteries need no top-up.
AA Battery Promise
AA patrols offer a range of quality batteries that are fitted for no additional charge to Members at the roadside 24/7, 365 days a year. They come with a three-year warranty and environmental disposal cost is included.