LKQ Euro Car Parts has warned garages to prepare for a permanent shift in the traditional battery service demand curve, predicting a spike from September as temperatures start to drop.
The parts specialist has said a combination of heat damage, dropping temperatures and vehicle idleness caused by recent lockdowns will create the perfect storm in the coming weeks.
Winter is already the busiest time of year for battery servicing, with cold weather exposing existing faults and boosting the chances of failure. But with battery lifecycles now damaged through lack of use during lockdown, and an unusually warm summer increasing the chances of additional problems such as warped plates, garages must be ready for an influx of demand that exceeds the peak experienced in previous years.
And with changing travel patterns brought about by Covid-19 set to stay, with less frequent, shorter journeys for many becoming the norm, demand for battery repairs is unlikely to drop back down to usual levels.
With the ‘new normal’ for battery servicing fast approaching, Adam White, Workshop Solutions Director at LKQ Euro Car Parts, outlines the opportunity for garages and how to prepare.
He said: “Batteries require continuous use to maximise their lifespan and keep them operating at full capacity, meaning that the more time a vehicle has spent idle during the coronavirus pandemic, the faster its battery will have been breaking down inside. And the resulting damage to its plates is irreversible – as is any warping caused by the heatwave earlier this summer.
“As temperatures fall in autumn, these problems will come to the surface. Our advice is to offer a battery service to every customer that comes through the workshop doors. It’s important to remember that the age of the vehicle doesn’t matter – all vehicles are at heightened risk at the moment.”
Long-term, the key consideration for garages will be to diagnose the probable causes of the battery failure after a period of non-use – and how these problems will manifest themselves. Issues such as a battery exceeding its lifespan, abnormal or increased draws, or incorrect charging can all cause different symptoms that may not immediately point to a problem with the battery, masking the root cause and hampering the advice and recommendations garages can provide to customers.
To tackle this, LKQ Euro Car Parts has been encouraging technicians to conduct thorough diagnostics – which typically takes under a minute to complete – when it comes to testing batteries. They are urging garages to ensure their diagnostic equipment is working correctly, and that they are up to date with the latest training and skills.
Adam continued: “A vehicle’s heart is its battery, and its primary response is to protect it if something goes wrong – but symptoms of a flat battery can often serve to mask the root cause of the problem. As it seeks to conserve energy, it will cut out other power-draining components, such as the radio, air con or electric windows. It’s easy to assume that this is a result of an electrical fault or a blown fuse, when actually it’s the vehicle telling you that the battery needs attention.
“Thorough diagnostics are critical to ensure that customers don’t drive away from a garage with a battery that is susceptible to running flat or experiencing further faults again within just a few weeks. This is not only potentially dangerous, but can damage customers’ trust in garages.
“Familiarity with solutions such as Bosch KTS560 software can help technicians identify the root cause of battery faults in these situations, allowing them to take the most appropriate course of action and provide the best service to customers.”