If you've not been using it much, how do you make sure your car's ready for the road when you need it?
- Sometimes our cars stay on the drive, unused, for a while
- A flat battery's the last thing you need when you have somewhere to be
- Let's make sure our cars stay in shape while they're used less
We learned a lot during the coronavirus pandemic, including the importance of keeping your car up and running while it's not being used. During the first lockdown period of 2020 (16 March to 4 July), LV= Britannia Rescue reported that battery related breakdowns were up almost 30% compared to the same period in 2019, which we can assume is due to us using our cars a lot less than normal during lockdown.
LV= Britannia Rescue also revealed that 54% of all claims made over a 24 hour period when the first lockdown was lifted, were due to vehicle engines failing to start. Experts say the issues are usually battery related and can be directly linked to motorists not using their car for long periods of time.
So, what can we do to make sure our cars still start the next time we need them when we’re using them a little less than normal? During winter, for example.
Looking after your battery
Petrol and diesel vehicles
Making sure your car battery is fully charged and ready to go is crucial - especially when you're not using it much. There are a few different ways to make sure your car battery stays charged, so let's take a look.
Firstly, you may want to get hold of a 'trickle charger' or 'battery conditioner' which are specifically designed to preserve your battery's charge throughout long periods of non-use. These devices help to prevent power drainage from features like immobilizers or dash cams, and also help the lifespan of your battery.
Secondly, and probably most well-known is to periodically turn the engine over or take a short drive to the local shops until your vehicle reaches its normal operating temperature. This is a simple but effective method for keeping your battery charged and to prolong the battery's life.
When it comes to flat batteries, here's what you can do:
- Keep an eye on your battery and if it’s running low, give it a charge using the methods above.
- If your battery keeps going flat, you may want to consider replacing it or getting it checked – especially if your car's essential for your work.
- In colder weather, your car will be working extra hard so it's even more important to make sure your battery’s running well.
It goes without saying that protecting the life of your Electric Car battery is high on the agenda for any EV driver. Generally speaking, if you follow these guidelines you'll maximise the lifetime of your EV's power source.
- Keep your car in the shade on hot days.
- Reduce the time your car's exposed to low temperatures, especially when charging.
- Don't keep your battery at extreme ends of the charging scale - somewhere between 25% and 75% is ideal.
- Unless you really need to, avoid using fast chargers.
- Try not to use your battery's charge more quickly than you need to.
Our Breakdown Cover has been especially designed with EVs in mind, just in case the worst should happen.
Check your car and tyres
If you drive in the dark, you'll want to make sure your lights, rear reflectors and both indicators are clean and working, and that no lenses are cracked.
Regularly checking your tyres is also important, no matter how often you use your car or how far you drive. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tyre and around its circumference. However, you should replace your tyres well before they get to the legal standard.
You may also want to check out our guide on winter car care to make sure your car is ready whatever the weather. So, to make sure our cars aren't neglected, give them a clean and check their essentials.