The battery experts at VARTA are recommending that garages check the status of all car batteries entering the workshop. 2020 saw driving habits change dramatically, and now is the time to be vigilant and guard against potential flat batteries.
It is now more important than ever for garages to check vehicle batteries, as many cars have not been used as regularly as they normally would have been over the last 12 months. Most private vehicles have been clocking up fewer miles than usual due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and a drop in commuter journeys. To add to this, there was some extensive warmer weather early in 2020, and then some very hot temperatures in August. These heat waves accelerate the degradation of the battery’s health and have led to a lot of cars carrying a weak battery.
Andy Cook, Technical Representative at VARTA, explained, “Many cars have been stood still for months on end, which means the alternator has not had a chance to recharge the battery. This, coupled with a hot spring/summer, has led to batteries failing and leaving people stranded, particularly over the winter months when cold weather means the battery has to work harder to start the engine.”
Test and test again
Therefore, the experts are advising that technicians should use a battery tester to determine whether the battery is in a good state of health or needs attention. With over a third of vehicles now having a start-stop system, it’s vital that a workshop has an up-to-date tester that can also accurately test Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) and Enhanced Flooded Batteries (EFB). If it’s an older tester that doesn’t have the capabilities to test AGM or EFB batteries, then it’s worth upgrading; otherwise the test results will likely be inaccurate.
Andy continued, “It shouldn’t take long to complete a battery test – no longer than five minutes. But, just as important as the test is the need to explain what you have done to the customer. By explaining the results, you are giving them peace of mind that the battery is in working order, or advising them that it might be time for a replacement. By taking either of these steps, you’re ensuring that they will not be left stuck out in the cold due to battery failure.”
Increased power demands
In today’s vehicles, batteries face considerable demands, as they have to serve increasingly complex and power-hungry electronics. Whereas digital dashboards, inbuilt screens and parking cameras used to be limited to luxury vehicles, they are now commonplace on even entry-level models, all placing additional strain on the battery.
Andy commented, “Many drivers are also plugging in their mobile devices to charge them whilst on-the-move, again drawing power from the vehicle. This is why it’s paramount to ensure the battery is in a condition to support all the comfort and safety features; it’s the heart of the car.”
Following the trend
As highlighted by GiPA, the automotive aftermarket intelligence consultancy, the UK is seeing an ageing car parc; there has been a significant increase in the number of cars over 13 years old on UK roads. Many of these vehicles will have never had the battery changed, or at least, had it changed a long time ago, which means that there is an opportunity for garages to generate revenue by ensuring that those batteries that are in need of replacement are replaced, whilst also maintaining customer satisfaction by keeping them on the road.
Andy concluded, “Testing batteries isn’t all about profiteering, it’s about offering great customer satisfaction and ensuring their car will start when they need it most. It is an easy way to build trust and ensure you retain your customers.”
For technicians looking to find more information on a specific vehicle model and the battery it uses, VARTA offers its Partner Portal platform. Designed to provide assistance to technicians, the online platform is a treasure trove of OE information to help identify and fit the correct battery for every vehicle.
Access to the VARTA Partner Portal is available via all internet-enabled devices. After a quick one-off registration, each workshop employee has free and unlimited access, so that you can ensure that the correct battery is installed in the quickest possible time.