Lack of use is one of the greatest enemies of a battery, especially an automotive battery which is designed to be charged regularly by an alternator. Any unused battery, regardless of its chemistry, will self-discharge over time and if allowed to remain discharged, will undergo severe positive grid corrosion and premature battery failure. The rate of discharge will depend on the type of battery and the storage temperature.
Many of our customers have been calling in asking all sorts of things. Everybody is worried about everything. Since the lockdown was announced, many South African citizens have had to stay home and only go to the shops to buy food and essentials. Imagine the epic horror of trying to start your car after weeks of being parked in your garage because you need to quickly rush to the shops to buy food and it doesn`t start. It is no laughing matter. A flooded battery is one of the most annoying things that a driver can experience. Especially while trying to go somewhere urgently.
If this happens to you, you`ll probably be confused and wondering what the heck happened!? Well here`s the possible list of things that might have happened from Your Mechanic.
8 Reasons Why Your Parked Car Battery Is Discharging During Lockdown.
1. Human Error
You’ve probably done this at least once in your life – you come home from work, tired and not really thinking, and left the headlights on, didn't completely close the trunk, or even forgot about some internal lights. Overnight the battery drains, and in the morning your car won’t start. Many new cars alert you if you’ve left your lights on, but may not have alerts for other components.
2. Parasitic Drain
The parasitic drain is due to components in your vehicle continuing to run after the key is turned off. Some parasitic drain is normal – your battery delivers enough energy to keep things, like your clock, radio presets, and security alarm operational at all times. However, if there's an electrical problem – such as faulty wiring, poor installation, and defective fuses – parasitic drain can exceed what's normal and deplete the battery.
3. Faulty Charging
If your charging system isn’t working properly, your car battery can drain even while you’re driving. Many cars power their lights, radio, and other systems from the alternator, which can make the battery drain worse if there's a charging problem. The alternator may have loose belts or worn-out tensioners that keep it from working properly.
4. Defective Alternator
A car alternator recharges the battery and powers certain electrical systems like lights, radio, air-conditioning, and automatic windows. If your alternator has a bad diode, your battery can drain. The bad alternator diode can cause the circuit to charge even when the engine is shut off, and you end up in the morning with a car that won’t start.
5. Extreme Temperature
Whether extremely hot (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) or cold (under 10 degrees Fahrenheit), temperatures can cause lead sulphate crystals to build-up. If the car is left in such conditions for too long, the sulphate build-up can damage long-term battery life. It may also take a long time for your battery to charge in these environments, especially if you only drive short distances.
6. Excessive Short Drives
Your battery may wear out before its time if you take too many short drives. The battery puts out the most power when starting the car. Shutting off your vehicle before the alternator has a chance to recharge could explain why the battery continues dying or doesn’t seem to last long.
7. Corroded or Loose Battery Cables
The charging system cannot top off your battery while driving if the battery connections have corroded. They should be checked for dirt or signs of corrosion and cleaned using a cloth or a toothbrush. Loose battery cables make it difficult to start the engine too, as they cannot transfer the electrical current efficiently.
8. Old battery
If your battery is old or weak, it will not hold a full charge well. If your car consistently won't start, it’s possible that the battery is worn out. You should generally replace your car battery every 3-4 years. If old, or poorly maintained, your battery may die on a regular basis.
To avoid this, here`s a quick DiY tip. Disconnect your car battery.
Here Is how to safely disconnect your battery.
1. Disconnect the negative terminal of the battery
It is very important to remove the negative terminal first. This is due to how highly flammable batteries are. Removing the negative terminal first reduces the risk of sparks. Car batteries can be explosive if handled incorrectly, when working with or near a battery, or jump-starting a vehicle, always:
- Wear glasses or safety goggles
- Shield eyes and face from the battery
- Keep as much distance as possible from the battery
- Read warning labels on the battery
- Do not cause any flames or sparks
- Read the vehicle instruction manual before jump-starting
- If you should get acid on your skin or in your eyes, flush with water immediately and seek medical attention.
2. Disconnect the positive terminal of the battery
After you have removed the negative terminal, you can now proceed to remove the positive terminal. Make sure that the positive terminal does not touch with the other metal parts in the engine.
Tell us about your experiences with a drained empty car battery in the comments below.