Winter is never a good time for driving, especially when the weather is as bad as it has been, particularly over the past few years, and no doubt we will feature in this blog a lot of advice as to how to drive during snow, ice, hailstones and rain.
A part of the car that takes possibly the biggest brunt when winter comes is the battery.
Many more short trips are taken at this time (Research by Kwik Fit reveals that every week, UK motorists make 52 million trips of under two miles) and as more power is used at the start of a journey, short travel times do not allow adequate time for the battery to recharge. And then you add in the fact that demands on it are multiple with lights, climate control, heated seats and screen de-misters all draining power from it, and remember, in cold temperatures, batteries lose performance.
But these are not the worst when it comes to draining power, and it may surprise you to know what is in your car that may cause you problems; it’s your in-car entertainment (I-C-E) and other luxury devices. And as Kwik Fit have revealed that more than 16 million (45%) drivers have at least one factory fitted luxury device in their car, the problem is more widespread than you may think.
Installed features include; Climate Control (26%, of motorists with it fitted in their car), heated wing-mirrors (20%), heated seats (11%), Built-in Sat Nav (9%), and other things like convertible roofs and video screens; all of which can all be a major drain on the battery.
And, on top of all these in-built things, drivers often plug in additional items which do the draining job as well as the built-in stuff does. How many of us plug in music devices, DVD players, sat-navs or phone and laptop chargers?
55% actually. And about 2.1 million drivers actually have more than three installed at once, all taking power from the battery. Incredibly, around 430,000 have between 4 and 5 – and 140,000 more than ten. I can’t even think of 10 items to plug in!
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, commented on the increasing number of battery draining devices and technology on the market. “Often people don’t realise how much of an effect the newer technologies such as climate control, heated seats and in car entertainment can have on a battery. Sometimes the latest luxury devices and gadgets that are designed to make our lives more comfortable can actually do the opposite, by seriously shortening the life of even a new battery and leaving us stuck with a car that won’t start.”
“It’s vital to remember that during the winter months, the battery has to work harder and that even switching basic heating and headlights on can add to the struggle. At Kwik Fit, we always see an increase in customers with battery problems when the temperature drops, and it is often the case that this has come as a surprise to the motorist. The best thing to ensure the battery is not being too strained is to keep unnecessary devices turned off, especially when the lights and heating are also in action. Motorists who feel their battery may be weak and not up to the task this winter can come in and receive a free health check at any of the 670 Kwik Fit centres across the country.” (Ah; there’s the reason for the research!)
In all honesty, I personally don’t think about the drain on the battery – and I should. I have left the radio on once when I nodded off during a rest break on a journey home – just to show that I am a careful driver (Honest) – and the battery ran down completely, leaving me stranded and asking other car parkers if they had any jump leads.
So, I learn!