My Car Won’t Start – Is it the Battery?

car battery

Lockdown has come to an end for most and many people are embracing a new normal in the face of Covid-19. Whilst the pandemic is far from over, the entire country is keen to get back to business with most companies now resuming operations in some capacity, and welcoming employees and customers back into the fold. With this, an increasing number of people need to get back on the road, but after months resting outside your home, is your vehicle up for the challenge?

During lockdown, millions of drivers were using their cars far less than usual. Even after lockdown, the nation’s driving habits have changed. Many people are now choosing to leave their vehicles at home and indulge in alternative transport (such as walking and cycling) to lower the risk of infection and make the most of being back outdoors once more.

Leaving your car unused for a long period of time due to the coronavirus lockdown may have affected your car’s performance. Your car after all needs a little tender loving care to stay in tip top condition. If you didn’t stay on top of carrying out those weekly car maintenance checks – which can easily happen – your car may not even start when the time comes to get back behind the wheel again.

If your car won’t start, it may be your battery that’s the culprit. Here we take a closer look at the nation’s big car battery problem post-lockdown and reveal how to keep yours healthy to ensure your car starts when you need it.

The dead battery – the number 1 non-starter

A dead or flat battery is the most common cause of a non-starting vehicle. It’s also the number one cause of vehicle breakdown in the UK. 

Your battery provides the electrical power your vehicle needs to work, operating the entire vehicle as well as electrical components such as the interior and exterior lights, central locking system, and radio. A running vehicle powers the alternator which charges the battery when in use. Without a sufficient amount of charge, the battery will not be able to operate and as a result, your vehicle will not start and the electrical components within will not work.

Why has my car battery died?

There’s a multitude of reasons why your battery is flat. You may have left the headlights on for too long or overnight, or because of the Covid-19 lockdown, you may not have used your car for a long period of time. 

Loose wiring, poor conductivity due to the evaporation of water inside the battery, or an expired component will also result in your car not starting due to a dead battery.

How do I know if my battery is to blame?

So your vehicle won’t start, but how do you know that it’s the battery that’s causing the problem?  

If the battery light is illuminated on your dashboard but none of the electrical components of your vehicle work, your battery is more than likely dead. If you have jump leads and access to another vehicle, jump starting your car is an easy way to diagnose a dead battery. If your vehicle starts after jump starting, your battery is dying. Alternatively, you may have a faulty alternator that is not recharging your battery to a sufficient level. 

If jump starting doesn’t work, there’s likely to be another issue causing your vehicle problem. A defective ignition switch, faulty starter, clogged fuel filter and even an empty fuel tank are other reasons why a vehicle won’t start.

How do I fix a flat battery?

The easiest way to fix a flat battery is by jump starting your car. If the jump start is successful, you will need to continue driving your vehicle until the battery is fully charged again. A journey of at least 30 minutes that avoids stop-start traffic will usually provide enough charge to get your vehicle’s battery working normally. 

You can also use a battery charger according to the manufacturer’s instructions to recharge a dead battery. There are a number of battery chargers on the market. A standard battery charger fully charges your battery, but can take up to 24 hours to complete the process. A maintenance charger (often referred to as a ‘trickle charger’) is perfect for cars that are idle for long periods. This type of charger sends a small amount of charge to the battery to keep it topped up over time. Alternatively, a smart charger is automated and charges your battery from empty to full before keeping it topped up with a small amount of charge to avoid overcharging and subsequent battery damage. 

If you can’t jump start your car successfully or your battery keeps dying, you’ll need our help to rectify the issue and get you moving again. We’ll test your car battery and examine your wider charging system to identify the fault causing your starting issues. We can then partially charge your battery or replace it if necessary. The average car requires battery replacement every 5 to 7 years.

How can I prevent battery issues?

As with most car issues, completing some basic maintenance can prevent a long list of mishaps, including a dead battery. 

You can prevent a flat battery even when your vehicle isn’t in use by starting your engine and running it for at least 15 minutes once a week. This will keep your battery charged and prevent starting issues. 

You may also need to top up the water in your battery from time to time to prevent the drying out that causes failure. Be sure to use distilled, deionised or demineralised water for this task as regular tap water will block your battery’s plate pores.

Being aware of the tell-tale signs of battery replacement will help you preserve the health of your wider car too.

Need professional help to fix your battery problems, identify battery faults or solve continuous car start-up issues? Contact us today for advice and assistance, or click to learn more about our Waterlooville battery replacement service.