As the UK experiences an easing of COVID 19 restrictions this summer, the Battery Experts at VARTA have highlighted how it’s vital that garages test the battery of every car coming into the workshop.
Many car owners will not have used their vehicle as regularly or even at all during the recent lockdown periods, as many office workers continued to work from home and families shopped local. In addition where some households might have two or more cars, the likelihood is they will have just been using one of these to do essential journeys or the school run, leaving the other cars standing unused. This is set to change as the UK workforce begins to get back-to-normal, starts to do the commute to workplace more regularly and with all shops opening and leisure activities open again for use in recreational time. Those cars that have been barely used in the last 14 months will start getting back on the road.
As well as this there is a predicted boom in UK based summer holidays, as many of the usual holiday locations abroad are not on the Government’s green list, therefore, many people will take vacations within the country. Trips to the coast or to visit family in other locations within the UK are expected to be popular during the upcoming summer months, and thus many of these cars that have been sat unused for much of 2020 and early 2021, will now be relied upon as the main mode of transport during the holiday season.
But are Britain’s cars and in particular the battery that powers them ready for the daily commute or longer holiday trips? With roadside assistance callouts recently reporting record numbers of callouts due to battery-related breakdowns, the figures suggest not. One leading roadside assistance company has said 55% of all home callouts in the last year have been due to battery problems. The lack of car usage coupled with a cold winter and spring has double down on the issue. April was the frostiest for 60 years according to the MET Office, with 13 days of frosts across the UK and 3.5°C lower than the average April. The cold weather results in the battery having to work harder to start the engine, and with batteries already in a weak state, it has been a challenging time for battery performance.
Andy Cook, Technical Representative at VARTA, explained: “Lots of cars have been stood still for much of the year, therefore, the alternator has not had chance to re-charge the battery. This along with the cold start to 2021, has led to many batteries failing and leaving people stranded, or unable to even begin their journey.”
VARTA are, therefore, advising that technicians should use a battery tester to determine if 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 the tester; otherwise the test results will likely be inaccurate.
Andy continued: “It shouldn’t take long to complete a battery test, not much longer than five minutes, but by explaining the results to the customer, you are giving them peace of mind that the battery is in working order, or advising that it might be time for a replacement. By doing this, you’re ensuring they have a functioning battery and will be ready for summer getaways.”
Batteries face greater demands than ever before, as they have to serve increasingly complex and power-hungry car electronics. Whereas digital dashboards, inbuilt screens and parking cameras used to be limited to high-end 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.”
VARTA has been highlighting as part of their Back To Better campaign that now is the time for a workshop to implement a test-every-battery process if they haven’t before. It’s been a challenging year for batteries, there is no better time for garages to generate revenue by ensuring batteries that need replacing are done so, whilst also keeping customers happy the service they received was thorough and keeps them on the road.
Andy added: “Testing batteries isn’t all about profiteering, it’s about offering great customer satisfaction and ensuring their car will start when they most need it to. This then adds to customer retention.”
The VARTA Partner Portal provides assistance to technicians; the online platform uses Original Equipment information to help identify the correct battery for every vehicle, and also includes step-by-step fitting instructions.
Access to the VARTA Partner Portal is available via all internet-enabled devices: after a one-off registration, each workshop employee has FREE and unlimited access, to ensure the correct battery is recommended and installed.