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'i-sapping' car breakdown risk for unwary motorists

‘i-sapping’ car breakdown risk for unwary motorists

'i-sapping' car breakdown risk for unwary motorists

Motorists charging sat navs, smartphones and iPods from their car’s 12v socket are at increased risk of battery-related breakdowns this winter, warns Kwik-Fit.

The automotive repair firm has dubbed the problem ‘i-sapping’.

More than three in five drivers are charging devices in their car using the 12v socket, with nearly four in 10 charging sat navs and over a third topping up their smartphones.

However, because batteries have to work so much harder in the winter, this extra drain is putting motorists at risk of breakdowns and non-starting issues.

The fact more than half of drivers do not get their batteries checked during winter is not helping, says the firm.

Communications director Roger Griggs said: “Many motorists don’t realise the effect devices plugged into their cars can have on a battery.

“Sat navs, tablets and other gadgets that are designed to make our lives more comfortable can actually have the opposite effect, by cutting short the life of even a new battery and leaving us stuck with a car that won’t start.

“At Kwik Fit, we often see an increase in vehicles coming in with battery issues when the temperatures drop, normally to the surprise of the customer.”

The firm advises anyone with a battery more than five years old to get it checked – that’s “a usual turning point in a battery’s life”.

'i-sapping' car breakdown risk for unwary motorists

'i-sapping' car breakdown risk for unwary motorists

'i-sapping' car breakdown risk for unwary motorists

Motorists charging sat navs, smartphones and iPods from their car’s 12v socket are at increased risk of battery-related breakdowns this winter, warns Kwik-Fit.

The automotive repair firm has dubbed the problem ‘i-sapping’.

More than three in five drivers are charging devices in their car using the 12v socket, with nearly four in 10 charging sat navs and over a third topping up their smartphones.

However, because batteries have to work so much harder in the winter, this extra drain is putting motorists at risk of breakdowns and non-starting issues.

The fact more than half of drivers do not get their batteries checked during winter is not helping, says the firm.

Communications director Roger Griggs said: “Many motorists don’t realise the effect devices plugged into their cars can have on a battery.

“Sat navs, tablets and other gadgets that are designed to make our lives more comfortable can actually have the opposite effect, by cutting short the life of even a new battery and leaving us stuck with a car that won’t start.

“At Kwik Fit, we often see an increase in vehicles coming in with battery issues when the temperatures drop, normally to the surprise of the customer.”

The firm advises anyone with a battery more than five years old to get it checked – that’s “a usual turning point in a battery’s life”.

Video: Would you stop to help a driver who’s broken down? Quentin Willson investigates…

Video: Would you stop to help a driver who’s broken down?

Video: Would you stop to help a driver who’s broken down? Quentin Willson investigates…

The age of chivalry may be dead, according to an investigation by ex-Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson.

A survey by Nationwide FlexPlus, in association with Willson, found that 86% of drivers would refuse to help a motorist who’d broken down – and 84% said no one stopped to help them last time they were left stranded.

More than half (54%) admitted they wouldn’t stop because they felt unable to offer any help, while 52% said they didn’t feel it was safe to stop and a third (33%) were worried the stranded motorists might be an unsavoury character.

Willson said: “In days gone by you might expect a cheerful chap in a Cortina to pull over and help to change your tyre, but according to Nationwide’s FlexPlus research, those days could be a thing of the past.

“If drivers find themselves broken down this bank holiday there are a few simple things they can do to protect themselves, such as moving their vehicle off the road, warning other road users by using their hazard lights and warning triangle, positioning their wheels away from the road, getting out of the car quickly to a safe place and phoning for assistance as soon as possible.”

Interestingly, gender plays a huge part in the chances of you being helped by a passing motorist – women are three times more likely to be rescued, with three quarters (72%) admitting they would assist a female driver compared to less than a quarter (23%) who would stop for a man.

When it comes to stopping, men (46%) are twice as likely as women (23%) to assist.

Nationwide’s head of FlexPlus current accounts, Dan King, added: “Unfortunately breaking down is a common and frustrating occurrence for British motorists, particularly during a busy bank holiday weekend when lots of people are on the road.

“With the research suggesting that we may not be able to rely solely on the goodwill of fellow motorists for help, it’s never been more important to have a backup plan if assistance isn’t immediately at hand, whether that be ensuring your car is fully maintained for the journey, making sure your phone is working and the battery is fully charged to taking breakdown cover to give you extra peace of mind.”

Video: would you help a motorist who’s broken down?

RAC breakdown: fixing a flat car battery

Check your car battery isn’t flat TODAY warns RAC

RAC breakdown: fixing a flat car batteryMotorists should make sure cars that have been little-used over the festive break don’t have a flat battery ahead of Monday 4 January’s big return to work, warns the RAC.

Traditionally, the first Monday after Christmas is the biggest breakdown day of the year for the organisation: the fact this year’s break has encouraged many to remain on holiday between Christmas and New Year could accentuate the 2016 breakdown risk.

Add in Britain’s recent damp weather and it’s a recipe for ‘battery blues’.


Read more:


“But it really doesn’t have to be that way, advised RAC patrol of the year Ben Wilson.

“All people need to do is make sure they take their cars for a good run this weekend. That way they will revive the battery or have time to sort the problem out.

And who’s most at risk from a flat battery? “Experience tells us that it is often families with two or more vehicles that tend to suffer most from the ‘Manic Monday’ flat battery problem.”

The simplest way to avoid a breakdown, says Wilson, is to take your car for a good run this weekend. “Don’t just start the vehicles and then switch it off because that may do more harm than good.”

The best advice of all? “Top it up with fuel before you have to go back to work so you can avoid the queues at the filling stations – if it’s a few miles away, this will also give your battery a bit of a boost too.”

Top 5 tips for taking care of your car battery

  1. Switch everything off at the end of your journey: lights, heater, fan, radio, heated rear windscreen
  2. Pull everything out of the 12v power sockets (such as sat navs, in-car DVDs, smartphone chargers)
  3. Take a look at the battery connections: make sure they’re tight and free from corrosion
  4. Batteries wear out: if it’s more than four years old, get it tested and budget for a new one
  5. Give the battery and easy time on cold mornings: park your car in a garage if possible
RAC breakdown: fixing a flat car battery

Check your car battery isn't flat TODAY warns RAC

RAC breakdown: fixing a flat car batteryMotorists should make sure cars that have been little-used over the festive break don’t have a flat battery ahead of Monday 4 January’s big return to work, warns the RAC.

Traditionally, the first Monday after Christmas is the biggest breakdown day of the year for the organisation: the fact this year’s break has encouraged many to remain on holiday between Christmas and New Year could accentuate the 2016 breakdown risk.

Add in Britain’s recent damp weather and it’s a recipe for ‘battery blues’.


Read more:


“But it really doesn’t have to be that way, advised RAC patrol of the year Ben Wilson.

“All people need to do is make sure they take their cars for a good run this weekend. That way they will revive the battery or have time to sort the problem out.

And who’s most at risk from a flat battery? “Experience tells us that it is often families with two or more vehicles that tend to suffer most from the ‘Manic Monday’ flat battery problem.”

The simplest way to avoid a breakdown, says Wilson, is to take your car for a good run this weekend. “Don’t just start the vehicles and then switch it off because that may do more harm than good.”

The best advice of all? “Top it up with fuel before you have to go back to work so you can avoid the queues at the filling stations – if it’s a few miles away, this will also give your battery a bit of a boost too.”

Top 5 tips for taking care of your car battery

  1. Switch everything off at the end of your journey: lights, heater, fan, radio, heated rear windscreen
  2. Pull everything out of the 12v power sockets (such as sat navs, in-car DVDs, smartphone chargers)
  3. Take a look at the battery connections: make sure they’re tight and free from corrosion
  4. Batteries wear out: if it’s more than four years old, get it tested and budget for a new one
  5. Give the battery and easy time on cold mornings: park your car in a garage if possible
Drivers more likely to pack a picnic than prepare their car

Drivers more likely to pack a picnic than prepare their car

Drivers more likely to pack a picnic than prepare their car

Barely 1 in 10 drivers of cars aged six years or older will get their car serviced before a long trip – despite 44% saying a breakdown is their biggest worry.

In contrast, 56% of older car owners will prepare a picnic before a long journey.

The figures, revealed (coincidentally) by car hire firm Europcar, reveal that drivers are worrying about breaking down but not doing anything to mitigate it.

With the average age of cars in British roads now topping seven years, that’s a lot of ill-prepared cars for the holiday trips many will be undertaking this weekend.

Even worse, just 1 in 5 hold roadside assistance cover should they indeed break down…

As for motorists who do make pre-journey checks, more than 8 in 10 will check the fuel but barely half will check water coolant, and only a third will check bulbs.

“It’s clear from our research that breaking down is a major concern for drivers, but it seems that many take long trips in older vehicles without doing some of the basic car maintenance checks”, said Ken McCall, Europcar UK Group MD.

“Our research revealed that the top three car checks before a long journey are fuel (82%), tyres (65%) and windscreen wash (64%).

“Checking the engine oil is topped up (63%) came lower than checking the windscreen wash…”

This weekend is set to be one of the busiest of the year on UK roads, so make sure you’re properly prepared.  Here are the top 10 biggest concerns for motorists, according to Europcar.

Top 10 travel worries

  1. Traffic and congestion
  2. Breaking down
  3. Having an accident
  4. Getting lost
  5. Driving in bad weather
  6. Driving when tired
  7. Arriving on time
  8. Keeping the kids occupied
  9. Running out of fuel
  10. Getting back pain