I’m worried my car won’t start when I need it to – what can I do?
People are rightly worried about their car batteries going flat because they aren’t driving as much as normal. But simply starting a car occasionally isn’t likely to help, in fact this may end up draining a weak battery.
A flat battery is the most common reason your car won’t start and can be caused by a number of things, such as lights being left on, something in the electrical system causing a battery drain, or even a faulty battery that won’t hold its charge. As well as your car not starting, a flat battery will usually stop your vehicle’s electrics working properly, meaning no power for lights, the radio or charging your mobile phone.
A car battery will recharge to some extent while driving, however you’ll need to drive for at least 30 minutes after starting to allow it to recharge sufficiently.
This drive cycle should ideally be in traffic-free conditions without lots of battery-hungry systems on such as headlights and heating. If you're in a dark, cold layby and using these comforts can't be avoided: don’t worry, it will just take a little longer to recharge the battery.
To charge the battery fully, a dedicated battery charger should be used to bring the battery back to its peak capacity, which usually involves several hours or overnight on the charger. If you keep your car in a garage, you may want to consider using a trickle charger which uses electricity to keep a battery charged.
If you have more than one car it’s probably best to alternate between them for your essential journeys so they both get used. You should also consider driving the one with the older or weaker battery more often.
If you need to use your vehicle and it doesn’t start, you can call your usual roadside recovery agent for assistance.
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