Batteries

A flat battery means your car won’t start – it’s as simple as that! Being the most common cause of a breakdown, battery failure sees 60,000 recovery callouts each year. Knowing how they work, what to look out for and what to do if something goes wrong is very important.

HOW DOES YOUR BATTERY WORK?

Your cars battery sends power to your starter motor when you turn your key, turning the engine over and sends power to the spark plugs which ignites the fuel and air mixture from the engine combustions cylinders.

STOP-START BATTERIES

An increasing number of cars are now being manufactured with ‘Start-Stop’ technology as more and more aim to reduce CO2 emissions. This technology does this by automatically turning off the engine whenever the vehicle stops.

BATTERY CARE

Most batteries don't require regular maintenance; however, it's always good to check them every now and then. Naturally you can't service your battery yourself; battery acid is highly corrosive we recommend you leave it to the experts.

When replacing your battery, make sure you use a reputable battery supplier such as your local HiQ Centre who cares about the environment and will dispose of old or dead units responsibly.

How to maintain your car battery - it only takes about 30 mins

Not something you need to do that regularly because most modern batteries are relatively maintenance free. But, when you do... here's a quick guide on what you do.

Before doing anything, ensure you've got the codes for reprogramming the stereo and other electrical systems that could be affected by loss of electrical power.

  1. If the terminals or clamps are corroded, they may need cleaning. So, using a wrench, loosen and remove the cables from the terminals. For safety, always remove the negative (-) connection first and reconnect it last.
  2. Make a solution of baking soda and water and cover the terminals with it. It will bubble and turn brown. When this stops, wash it off with water and dry the battery using paper towels.
  3. Reconnect the positive (+) terminal then the negative (-) one and, to prevent future new corrosion, coat the terminals with grease.

If you need a new battery or simply some advise, contact your local HiQ centre.

How to charge your car battery - it only takes about 10 mins

Left your lights on over night again? Don't worry. A dead car battery can soon be brought back to life. Assuming you have a battery charger, of course.

  1. If possible, remove the battery leads.
  2. Consult your charger's instructions to make sure it's suitable for your car's battery and that it's set correctly.
  3. Fit the charger's red clip to the battery's positive (+) terminal and the black clip to the negative (-) terminal.
  4. Connect the charger to the mains and switch on. A green light should show. If nothing happens, switch off the charger at the mains and check that the leads are correctly attached to the battery.
  5. Once charging is complete, a second light or (change in colour) will tell you. Disconnect the charger from the mains and remove the cables, starting with the black lead. Reinstall and / or reconnect the battery.

And off you go. In the process of driving around (for a minimum of 20 mins with the radio and other non-essential electricals off) you'll fully recharge the battery so you won't have to repeat the process all over again when you stop.

If you don't have a battery charger to put life back in your battery, then humble jump leads can do the job just as effectively.

How to use jump leads - it only takes about 10 mins

When using jump leads, a simple and helpful acronym to remember is…GaBLE - Good and Bad, Live(+) then Earth(-).

Connect a 'good' battery to your 'bad' one using the live (+) lead and terminal. Then attach the earth lead to the engine block or chassis member (DO NOT attach it to the negative (-) battery terminal of the 'bad' battery.)

Once connected, start the 'good' car first and leave its engine running, then try turning on the ignition of your car.

Once your engine is running smoothly, remove the leads in reverse order, one at a time.

Whatever you do, don't switch your engine off now. It'll take a 20 min drive with the radio and other non-essential electricals off to fully recharge the battery - so you won't have to repeat the process all over again when you stop.

If your battery continues to lose it's charge contact your local HiQ centre who will be happy to provide assistance.

What to look out for

Most battery issues happen without any prior warning so can catch us at the most inconvenient times. But there are a few things you can keep an eye out for:

Warning Light

Probably the easiest to look out for is your battery Dashboard light. The illuminated battery symbol is an indication of a potentially faulty charging system. It may turn off once you start driving, but if it stays on you should get it checked as soon as you can to avoid the possibility of your battery going completely flat.

Difficult to start the car

If your battery is failing you may find that it takes longer for the engine to start after turning the ignition, the engine may turn over a few more times than usual before it starts. This may only happen a couple of times before the engine doesn’t start at all and the battery is flat, so best to get it checked when you notice it.

Loss of power else where

Not only does your battery power your engine, but most electronic parts of your vehicle such as lights, seats, windows and heaters. If these seem to running with lower power, it could be a sign that your battery is struggling.

WHAT TO DO WHEN IT GOES WRONG

FLAT BATTERY? HERES WHAT TO DO

When everything is fine and dandy, your battery will recharge as you drive. But if something goes wrong or perhaps you leave your electrics on when you are parked, the battery power can be reduced to a level whereby the car will not start.

If you think your battery is flat, follow our guide below. We can't promise it will work every time but it might get you going again when you really need it.

If your engine is trying to turn over, there is still a chance to get it going, follow these simple steps to try and get started again:

  1. Check to see if any interior or exterior electrics have been left on. If they are, turn them off.
  2. Leave the vehicle for 20 minutes without attempting to restart (it can take this long for a battery to regain enough power to run the starter motor).
  3. After 20 minutes, try turning the key again. Fingers crossed this time it will start!

If you find you have to do this on a regular basis, or that your battery drains without leaving any of the electrics on, your problem could be more serious and you should seek some professional assistance from your local HiQ car care expert.

Why do car batteries go flat?

The most common reason for batteries failing is due to old age. Just like a phone battery, over time its capacity to hold charge deteriorates. Other reasons include: the battery hasn’t had enough time to recharge properly which can be caused by frequent short journeys.

When to replace a car battery?

There aren’t always obvious signs that your cars battery might need replacing before its too late, but there are a few things you can keep an eye out for:

  • Dashboard warning light
  • Difficulty starting the car
  • Loss of power elsewhere
How to keep your car battery healthy?

Some factors causing poor battery health are out of our control, such as cold weather.

How much does a new battery cost?

A new battery typically lasts 3-5 years but this is very dependent on your driving habits.

Frequent short journeys cant out a strain on your battery as it may not have enough time to fully recharge itself so will reduce its life.

How can I test my car battery?

We would always recommend popping in centre and getting one of our professional mechanics to take a look.

How long does a new car battery last?

A new battery typically lasts 3-5 years but this is very dependent on your driving habits.

Frequent short journeys can put a strain on your battery as it may not have enough time to fully recharge itself so will reduce its life.

How do you know if your car needs a new battery?

There aren’t always obvious signs that your cars battery might need replacing before its too late, but there are a few things you can keep an eye out for:

  • Dashboard warning light
  • Difficulty starting the car
  • Loss of power elsewhere