Replace your battery before it damages your car

Posted on September 30th, 2015 by Rob Marshall

Car battery

In the old days, it was possible for a car to soldier on with a dying battery for many months, until an early morning non-start dictated that the part really be replaced. Yet, with modern cars being stacked full of sophisticated electronics, an underperforming battery tends to cause more damage (and expense) than simply the inconvenience of a breakdown.

Electronics rely upon a consistent power supply and any significant variation can cause the software to become corrupted. Imagine the damage that can be caused to a domestic computer if, instead of allowing its shut-down procedure to complete, you simply yank the power plug from the electrical socket. Using a deteriorated, or heavily-discharged, battery can have a similar effect on your car.

As a car battery is placed under the most stress when it is required to start a cold engine, the voltage can drop below the electronic components’ operating threshold during that time. The resulting damage to the data can vary from minor, such as electric windows not responding correctly to the button, or parking sensors appearing not to work correctly, to the major corruption of the vehicle’s immobiliser data (often held within the instrument cluster on many modern cars) which will prevent the engine from being started.

Although deterioration in battery performance tends to be gradual, many owners do not notice that their engines are not being churned over as effectively. Therefore, charging the battery at home is a prudent move, using a smart charger, prior to having a garage perform a discharge test on the battery. Now is a good time to check that the battery is in good order, because cold weather puts the unit under even more stress.

If your battery runs flat, be wary that a jump-start from another vehicle might cause a voltage spike that can also damage the sensitive electronics. Jump packs tend to be recommended for use on modern cars, compared to jump-leads and another vehicle.