As temperatures start to fall, it is important to ensure car batteries are ready for the cold season. Garages and workshops know the importance of checking lights, wipers and fluids, but what about batteries? Battery related faults are one of the main reasons for vehicle starting problems and winter callouts, but what causes this drop in battery performance? Yuasa explains all.
A battery is a consumable item, meaning its performance deteriorates over time with normal use. However, extreme winter temperatures can prove too harsh for a weak battery to survive. At 0°C even a healthy battery will lose about 30 per cent of its cold cranking performance. This does not mean that the Ah has disappeared, merely that its availability has been reduced by cold temperatures.
Furthermore, vehicles have a much-increased electrical demand to start during the cold. Electrical systems must work a lot harder, with headlights and heating being used a lot more compared to the warmer months. What’s more, it takes greater power for a starter motor to turn a cold engine over and freezing temperatures slow down the chemical process inside a battery, reducing its ability to hold a charge.
“To combat the effects of capacity loss, it is advisable for workshops to always fit a reliable, high quality battery” explains Ian Newham, training manager for GS Yuasa Battery Sales UK Ltd.
“If the battery has a higher capacity to begin with – before any drop in temperature – it is more likely that the vehicle will start and the battery will last much longer compared to a budget battery.
“For example, the Yuasa YBX5000 range offers 50 per cent more power, over double the number of starts and is typically sold with a longer guarantee than the YBX1000 range.
“AGM and EFB batteries have more power and can withstand a much wider temperature range.”
The older a battery is, the less performance it will have and the weaker it will be. An older battery that seems fine in the warm summer temperatures will often discharge or go flat very quickly, as soon as the weather turns colder. In most cases, this will then lead to a non-start situation.
Equally, battery discharge can occur if a vehicle is used infrequently or only for short distances. Therefore, drivers should try to take a longer journey at least once a month for the battery to re-charge.
Whilst we cannot change the cold weather, we can be prepared for it – and therefore minimise the risk of non-start situations. Yuasa recommends independent workshops adopt their ‘Always Check The Battery’ scheme and stresses that this preventative maintenance measure is as important as changing tyres, refilling fluids and testing lights.
The popular scheme encourages garages to significantly improve customer service and drive customer loyalty by testing the battery of every vehicle serviced or repaired. The idea was born following a major workshop trial which discovered that 11 per cent of all vehicles required a battery replacement and a further 27 per cent needed recharging.
Primarily, ‘Always Check The Battery’ helps to keep vehicles on the road; avoids the extra costs and hassle linked with a breakdown; and upholds workshop reputation. However, identifying a faulty battery also allows for additional revenue streams through battery replacement as well as upselling opportunities.
Yuasa’s ‘Always Check The Battery’ kit, which includes a GS Yuasa battery tester, mirror hangers, a guide book and varied POS material, is ideal as part of a standard winter check and produces quick, accurate results for garages.