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On the road during lockdown

Here's what motorists should know.

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How to take care of your car battery in lockdown

2020-05-22 07:00

Ernest Simon

changing a car battery

Image: iStock

There's been loads of questions about taking care of your parked vehicle in lockdown. And, without a doubt, there'll be people who have parked their vehicles and not started it in a very long time, causing their batteries to run completely flat.

If your car is sitting in your garage or driveway during lockdown without being used much, it's essential to take care of your battery. 

Ernest Simon from battery distributor Probe provides some handy tips for helping you preserve your battery during the lockdown, and beyond.   

Batteries need action to stay in good nick, and if you're not driving your car for long periods at a time, your battery will be the first thing in your car to suffer. 

READ | Why you shouldn't just idle your car in lockdown - reader

To prevent this, start your car at least once a week and allow the engine to run for approximately 15 minutes. Alternatively, take a drive to get your essentials, which helps keep everything in good working order. It's a good idea to put your battery on a trickle charger if you have one available, and leave your car plugged into the mains while it's not in use to maintain charge.

It is worth investing in a good quality charger to charge your battery at least once every month. 



Certain battery chargers also have a useful de-sulfation function. One of the reasons your battery won't start may be sulfation, a process whereby larger lead sulfate crystals form and deposit on the negative plates, settling in a white layer around the battery's active material that restricts the flow of electrons. If you've caught it in time, reversible sulfation can often be corrected. Still, if you have permanent sulfation after the battery has been in a low state-of-charge for an extended period, you'll need to buy a new battery.

It's easy to spot a build-up of large lead sulphate crystals on batteries with a Magic Eye indicator, which all Probe batteries have, as you'll see whiteness around the eye of the battery. 

If you do find yourself with a dead battery – you'll need to jumpstart your vehicle. You can go the jumper cable route.

However, portable power packs like the multipurpose Avanty or slimline jumpstarters are now powerful enough to jumpstart a vehicle and are great to keep on hand. You no longer need to find another car to give you a jumpstart - just use your fully-charged power pack to boost your dead battery. 

Battery care

Battery life can depend on your driving conditions, habits, and the weather. Simon offers these tips to help prolong battery life. 

1. Check your battery regularly: Some batteries have a useful state-of-charge indicator (Magic Eye) which allows you to check the power status of your battery easily. 

2. Clean your battery: It is surprisingly easy to clean a battery. When the engine is off, remove the clamps and clean away grease, dirt and oxidation. A dirty battery connection will weaken the charge.

3. Ensure your battery is secure: A loose battery will negatively affect your battery's life and can damage the engine. We advise that you keep the battery tray clean and make sure the battery is correctly and securely placed. Any nationwide dealer will be able to assist you.  

4. Charge and recharge with good quality chargers: Good quality chargers at an appropriate size for your vehicle are not very expensive, and there are even solar chargers available.  

5. Ensure you have the right battery for your vehicle: There's a nifty online app which comes in as a handy tool that ensures you're using the right battery for your needs. For example, you may need to use Enhanced Flooded Batteries (EFB) if your vehicle has Start-Stop technology. 



6. Go maintenance-free! It's worth getting a sealed battery that does not require any maintenance. This can offer an extended battery life. Some batteries are maintenance-free, as they are permanently sealed and never need water. Look out for a high-performance battery which offers increased grid strength and internal plate supports making it vibration resistant, extremely durable and robust. 

Probe is a certified supplier to Registered Essential Service Businesses. 

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