Lockdown in South Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to simply go out and get help when your beloved car starts acting up. With dealerships and car service shops forced to close, it’s now your job to ensure your car is able to perform – for a short while, at least.
It’s now more important than ever to know how to keep your car in good working condition, but don’t worry, we want to help! We’ve compiled some useful information that anyone can follow to keep everything running smoothly.
Prolonging the life of your battery.
Remember to always ensure your car battery isn’t wasting power. Every time you leave your vehicle after a drive, make sure everything is switched off to maintain battery levels. This includes the lights, radio and air conditioner. Additionally, check your car to see all doors are properly closed so that door lights and warning systems remain off. If possible, minimise short drives as much as you can as they don’t allow the battery to fully recharge.
Where possible, park your car in a cool spot to prevent exposing the battery to high ambient temperature and consequent high self-discharge. If you can access the battery, make sure that the terminals are not loose – a loose terminal will restrict the recharging of the battery.
Avoid performing any DIY work on your car during the lockdown. Any damage to the battery or electrical system of your car could negatively affect your car’s reliability and potentially leave you stranded. If you’re not a qualified mechanic, leave the alterations for after the lockdown.
Keep your battery and your warranty in good condition – don’t take the battery out for use in other applications. Removing the battery from your car to run other appliances such as freezers or the TV might damage the battery and void the battery’s warranty.
Keep the battery running while isolating.
Working from home? If you know you won’t be driving for a while, disconnect the battery – But only if you know what you’re doing and can reconnect it properly when the time comes (as per vehicle manufacturer’s instructions). Now is also a great time to make use of your smart charger if you have one available. Use the smart charger to keep the battery conditioned and charged.
If your car is sitting idle due to the lockdown, start the vehicle every day and run the engine for 5 minutes in a well-ventilated area. This maintains the charge and reduces the chance of the battery running flat. If you can reach and have the necessary tools, measure the voltage of the battery using a voltmeter every few days. If the voltage drops below 12.6V, recharge it by running the vehicle for 10 minutes.
How to diagnose battery problems.
It’s important to know the warning signs of a failing battery. The following are signs that your battery is on its way out and may have to be replaced after the lockdown:
- You hear grinding or a clicking sound when you turn the ignition.
- The engine does not swing at all when you turn the ignition.
- Your vehicle cranks slowly when attempting to start.
- Your headlights dim when idling but brighten when you rev your engine.