Are you worried about your car battery draining flat during Covid19 Lockdown?

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.

Click here to see how to jump start your vehicle

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. 

 

 

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19 comments

Robin

Robin

I was late for a very important job interview. Ended up missing that job.

Acie

Acie

We played the radio while out camping one afternoon and the battery drained flat. We had a tough time trying to find someone to help jump start our car. Sunny days!

Maco

Maco

@Keledi Having the battery in the boot for me is actually quite better because you can still close all your doors unlike with other cars where you have to leave the bonnet slightly open.

Keledi

Keledi

What if the battery is in the back like the BMW?

Morde

Morde

Lockdown woes am I right?

Brent

Brent

It’s true. Disconnecting your battery works

Moh

Moh

I used to do this when i was in Vasirty a couple of years ago. Its a technique i can vouch for.

Jemma

Jemma

I have not had this problem before. I’m a new car owner. But this is worth knowing.

Bongani

Bongani

A response for @TY, I think leaving it in the engine tray where it is is better than the risk of dropping it or putting it on the ground incorrectly. I would not close the shut the hood. I’d leave it slightly open tho

McDonald

McDonald

My boot door didn’t close properly the other day so the lights inside the car were on. I had no idea of this. Went to car to start but battery was drained out. It’s still parked there. I don’t have friendly neighbors so can’t get help. Breakdown companies are closed. Hard times

Eva

Eva

I don’t even own jumper cables. 😂
If this happens to me I would not know where to begin. Who will even jump start for you during lockdown!!??

Cola

Cola

Amazing. Thank you

Phil

Phil

Good to know! Thanks for the info.

Andriëtta

Andriëtta

This happened to us last week. I fell in the shower and broke my arm. I was in so much pain. We wanted to rush to the hospital but the car would not start. We had to borrow the neighbour`s car. There were no ambulances available. This is what we did after we recharged the battery, We disconnected it. Great advice.

Ty

Ty

This is useful information. So what happens after? Remove the battery from the engine or leave it there unconnected?

Tino

Tino

Great tip.

Johann

Johann

This lockdown is affecting people in very many aspects

Olie

Olie

Yes. That’s the most perfect zero capital solution.

Gladys

Gladys

I’ve known for a while that my battery was dying but then the lockdown happened before I could buy one. That’s why I have not left the house for three weeks.

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