GEM – Look After Your Battery and Stay Mobile
Breakdown cover specialist GEM Motoring Assist is warning of one of the busiest weeks of the year for roadside assistance, with battery problems accounting for more than half of all its call-outs.
“The winter break is over, and thousands of motorists will be returning to their cars for journeys to work and of course, the kids are back to school,” says GEM chief executive David Williams MBE. “Our records show that the majority of call-outs at this time of year result from cars not starting, mostly because of flat batteries.
“Many people will not have used their car during the Christmas and New Year break, and may turn the key to find a sluggish start or – worse still – a flat battery. Furthermore, lower temperatures place a car battery under extra stress. But a few simple checks will reduce the chance of your battery letting you down.”
GEM Motoring Assist’s technical team has the following advice for battery care:
- Don’t overwork the battery when you’re trying to start your car. If your engine does not start first time, operate the starter in ten second bursts and then turn the ignition off for 30 seconds, before trying again.
- If your car won’t start or feels lethargic when you turn the key, then you could well have a flat battery. The way to check is by switching on your headlights. If they’re weak or they don’t work, then your battery is flat.
- ‘Bump starting’ a car could offer a one-off solution to get you going, provided it’s safe. However, if it doesn’t work at the first attempt then don’t try again, because unburned fuel is likely to damage your car’s catalytic converter. This method is not suitable for automatic cars
- ‘Jump starting’ requires a set of jump leads and either a power pack or donor car. There are dangers associated with jump starting, so make sure you know what you’re doing.
- When your car engine has started, get the battery checked as soon as possible to ensure the problem doesn’t happen again.
- Turn off any electrical accessories as soon as they are no longer required. Heated rear windscreens tend to work in conjunction with heated mirrors and consume a lot of electrical energy.
- The dashboard warning light only advises when your car battery is not receiving any charge. It does not indicate a flat battery.
- If you only tend to cover short journeys, it is prudent to take your car for a longer run, of at least 20 miles, which will help recharge the battery to an acceptable level.
- Batteries, like most items, have a finite life. Although there are products available to prolong battery life, they are only delaying an inevitable new purchase.
GEM has a wealth of motoring and road safety advice and information available on its website.