A stack of drained car batteries in the VFR Motor Services workshop

Motor Maintenance Essentials: Car Battery Basics

What Your Car Battery Does

A car battery stores the energy generated by the car’s alternator and uses that power to, first and foremost, start the car. When the engine is running the car is self-sufficient in terms of electricity. The alternator puts power back into the battery while the engine is running and powers all the electrical gizmos and gadgets such as windscreen warmers, hot air blowers and even the stereo.

It takes a while for the battery to return to full charge after starting the car. Especially in the colder months when we putting additional strain on the car’s electrics by demisting windscreens, warming up the car with the blowers, using the heated seats, and using the headlights for longer periods.

How to Maintain A Car Battery For Long Life

Car batteries do have a finite lifespan. Sometimes it’s just game over. However, as always, maintenance is the key to the longevity of any part of your car.

Because modern cars have more and more electrical features which draw on battery resources, modern batteries do tend to be more powerful and last longer than their predecessors. This doesn’t mean you can neglect their maintenance. Your vehicle relies on its battery even more than every before.

Cars fitted with stop/start are especially tough on batteries. The stop/start mechanism is a real drain on battery resources. These vehicles have a much stronger battery as a result. On the downside, a replacement battery can be around double the price. All the more reason to make sure you don’t run your battery down completely.

Once a car battery starts to fail consistently, then the chances are it will need to be replaced. This can be expensive, so read on for tips on how to maintain your car’s battery. There are a couple of very simple ways that you can look after your car’s battery and prevent it from running low.

Treat Your Car to a Good Run

One thing a car battery really doesn’t like is not being used. If your car spends its life sitting on the drive, in the street, or even in a cosy garage then the battery will gradually lose power.

A really great way to rejuvenate your battery is to take it out for a good long run.

Top tip: When the battery of a vehicle with a stop/start feature gets too low, the stop/start feature will automatically stop working. It may not be a problem with the stop/start itself, it could simply be the battery preserving its resources. Again, the first thing to do is to take the car for a good run with the non-essential battery draining resources turned off, and you could find it starts working again.

How Far do I need to go to Recharge the Battery?

Our recommendation is: Far enough to be able to comfortably turn off non-essential drains on the battery such as: the heated windscreen, heated seats, warm air blowers. Headlights too, as long as it is safe to do so. In the winter months, this will probably be around 20 – 25 miles.

When the additional drains on the battery are turned off, then the battery can rejuvenate and begin to recharge.

Some modern cars will automatically turn off the rear windscreen heater once the screen is clear. If you car doesn’t do this, remember to turn off the rear windscreen heater to reduce the drain on your car’s battery.

Needless to say, always use headlights when light is low or visibility is reduced.

How Often Should I go for a Battery Recharge Drive?

Ideally, you would treat your car to a decent drive at least once or twice a month. There are lots of great places to visit around Leicestershire, Rutland and Derbyshire that don’t take long to drive to from Leicester. So why not treat yourself and your car’s battery, and take the car out for a good run and get it properly warm.

Looking for ideas? How about these lovely locations around Leicester:

Recharging your Car Battery at Home

Car battery chargers are readily available to buy. They are generally universal and not specific to your car. Modern Smart Chargers are especially good because they turn themselves off when the battery when its fully charged.

Old battery chargers kept on charging and this can “cook” the battery by constantly pumping in power it doesn’t need. If you have an old style charger, make sure you keep an eye on the ammeter to make sure it doesn’t hit zero. Best to turn it off around 1-2 amps.

If your car still won’t start after giving the battery a boost, then unfortunately you will need a new one. Similarly, if your car runs for 2-3 days and the battery fails, then a new one is in order.

How We can Help

If you’re worried about the health of your car’s battery, we offer a battery recharge service. Bring the car in and we can put it on charge overnight to give it a good boost or top it up.

For more information or to book an overnight recharge slot, contact us using the online form, call us on our landline on 0116 3190 118, or mobile on 07850 881 911.

As part of our Winter Check we will do a thorough battery review and let you know if the battery is in tip top condition, needs a boost, or completely replacing.

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