Charging a car battery

Motorists warned to check their car battery to avoid a ‘New Year non-start’

Charging a car battery

Cars that have been left unused over Christmas risk letting motorists down for the return to work on Monday 6 January due to a flat battery.

Breakdown organisation the RAC is already predicting the first Monday after the festive break could be its busiest day of the year.

Older cars and those with aged batteries will be particularly at risk of a ‘New Year non-start’.

Around 12,000 RAC breakdowns are forecast for Monday, with around 1 in 3 caused by a flat battery. The organisation dealt with 3,600 flat batteries on Monday 7 January 2019, and 2,422 on Wednesday 2 January.

40 percent of people who have suffered a post-Christmas flat battery discovered the problem on the way to work.

How to avoid a flat car battery

Flat car battery warning symbol

RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said motorists can take steps this coming weekend to avoid a nasty surprise.

The simplest tip is to take the car for a good run – not simply a quick trip around the block. This will allow the battery to recover a good level of charge.

It’s also worth checking your car over sooner rather than later. This gives plenty of time to either sort the problem or call out for help before the Monday rush.

“Experience tells us that it is often families with two or more vehicles that suffer most from flat batteries on the return to work after Christmas and New Year,” said Aldous, “as they tend only to drive one over the festive period.”

He added it is a good idea to make sure everything you may have plugged into the car is disconnected after every journey. “Sat navs and other devices can drain the battery if left connected – every volt is precious first thing in the morning.”

In an RAC poll, 6 percent of people admitted they had experienced a flat car battery after not using their car over the Christmas break. 13 percent have fallen victim twice…

Nissan Leaf e-Plus

Nissan Leaf is Stuff Car of the Year

Nissan Leaf e-Plus

Tech writers at Stuff Magazine have voted the Nissan Leaf Car of the Year in the latest Stuff Gadget Awards.

The Stuff Car of the Year gong is one of 20 awards presented by the magazine and website writers. Previous winners include the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X.

“Cars are big gadgets on wheels,” said editor-in-chief James Day.

Nissan’s Leaf has been a trailblazer for electric vehicles ever since its inception, and the latest model comes packed with a number of smart driver aids that guarantee massive grins when getting from A to B… or parking in a multi-storey.”

Nissan Leaf e-Plus interior

The Leaf’s relative affordability helped its case; prices start from £26,345, once the government Plug-in Car Grant is taken off.

The 2019 Leaf e+ variant’s extended 239-mile range and power boost to 217 hp helped, too(although it is more expensive, priced from £35,895 post-Plug-in Car Grant). And the judges liked its e-Pedal function and ProPilot driver assistance tech.

“The Leaf is packed with the kind of technology you wouldn’t expect from such an affordable family car.”

Nissan is almost certain to make much of the award in 2020: Stuff describes itself as the world’s biggest gadget magazine and website. It has both brand recognition and influence – a potent combination to help spread the word…

Danger, high voltage! 11 percent don’t know where their car battery is

Car batteryMore than one-in-10 drivers don’t know where their car’s battery is located, despite flat batteries being a leading cause of winter breakdowns.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults also found nearly a third (30 percent) have never checked their car battery, while more than half (53 percent) haven’t done so within the past five months.

This lack of battery TLC could cause problems tomorrow (2 January) as many motorists return to work – and cars left idle over the Christmas break refuse to start.

Equally, while older cars might require a straightforward jump-start (via leads connected to a healthier car, to boost the battery and start the engine), this process can overload the electronic systems of modern vehicles, leading to greater problems.

You can cause damage – or even invalidate your warranty – if you attempt a jump-start using a hybrid or electric car. If in doubt, call your breakdown service provider.

Car battery warning light

The poll, commissioned by Halfords, also reveals 42 percent of motorists don’t know how to fix their car battery if it dies. Yet many have noticed the early-warning symptoms.

In total, a third (31 percent) of drivers have heard a clicking sound when they turn the ignition key, a fifth (21 percent) have noticed their dashboard lights dimming when turning over the engine, and 13 percent have experienced the ignominy of their car backfiring.

“If your battery takes more attempts than usual to start the car, appears sluggish or the warning lights on your dashboard are illuminated, it could be a sign of imminent failure,” explains Laura Walsh from Halfords. “Using your car’s heater, lights and devices like sat-navs places greater demand on your battery. This, combined with leaving your car standing idle in the damp could result in a less than positive start to 2020, so it’s worth giving your car a quick health check.”

Many cars have a voltage gauge on the dashboard to indicate battery health. Alternatively, you can check your battery using an electrical tester. Examples are available online from less than £5.