• Published: 26 May 2020

Government-imposed lockdowns are now common across the world since COVID-19 spread like a fire. Thousands of people in the UK parked their vehicles for the foreseeable future and only go out for basic necessities. And now, due to low vehicle usage, the dead car battery pandemic is also sweeping the country. A lockdown means less driving, shorter trips and therefore eventually more dead car batteries. 

A car battery is a plastic box full of lead plates in acid. Like all batteries, their basic job is to store electrical energy. The modern car engines are usually good to go during the shutdown. All they require is a spark, some fuel and a short, sharp crank to get themselves turning and burning. The crank is provided by the battery. When you start the car engine, the current, produced by the alternator, allows the electrical system to run. The alternator pumps electricity back to the battery which then pumps back at a slower rate. 

During the lockdown, staying at home and driving for only 10 miles a week does not provide enough recharging from the alternator to offset the cumulative electricity deficit created by starting the car for these short trips. Various computer systems in the car require electricity to work upon the startup including the central locking system. These things don’t use much battery in isolation but they add up.

Avoiding a flat battery

It is a good idea to start your car up at least twice a week and let it run for a minimum of 15 minutes. During this period, you should keep an eye on the temperature - the engine should be properly warmed up. The best time to do this exercise is in the middle of the day so that the outside temperature may help the engine to heat up a bit. 

If you are planning to purchase a trickle charger then buy a decent one. It will be a useful investment if the vehicle is remaining static in the driveway. The charger uses home electricity to keep the car battery topped up. 

One common problem with car batteries is corrosion. Examine the battery connectors under the bonnet for visible corrosion. Then, if there is corrosion, be sure to clean it properly. After cleaning, it is important to make sure that the connectors are not loose. 

Fixing a flat battery

If the battery still gets flat then check it again carefully. You can expect to hear a clicking noise at startup and also see the relevant light appear on the dashboard. If the battery is drained, you should not continue to attempt to start the car. It can damage the starter part of the engine. 

In such cases, a jump start can be a feasible option. It is the most common and popular way to get the car working again. All you need are the relevant cables attached to the terminals of the drained car battery at one end and the donor car’s battery at the other end. This will provide enough boost to get it going. You may also wish to invest in a jump pack. These jump packs are small, portable batteries that are powerful enough to get the car going. When dealing with electricity, all safety measures should be considered. If there is any risk in working with the batteries, it is advised to seek the help of a professional. Your health and the security of the car should always be your main concern. 

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