AA is getting a record number of calls for storm-related problems with nearly half being for dead batteries.
Another warning to vehicle users! Have their car batteries checked before the winter and you will reduce the risk of being caught out in a snow storm?
Of course, Car batteries and Cold weather do not mix! It would be like your battery sitting in a fridge. I am sure that it does happen to some people. Remember that when it is cold we use all the electrical appliances in your car. Importantly, if your battery is not up to scratch. Then it will let you down and it could let you down in an isolated place. Frighteningly, or a snow drift if you live on the east coast of America. Of course, with the massive snow falls that they are having at the moment.
Batteries let you down when you least expect it
After years of experience of selling car batteries. I know that it is the last thing on a drivers mind when they set off on a journey. It is like any other battery situation, you only know about it when the battery runs out of power. The best example which happens in most households is the mobile phone. Specifically when the phone goes flat! It is total panic and the phone must be charged up at all costs.
Fortunately your car battery is a better engineered system. It will probably never let you down in a five year period. However, when it does, you will be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of course, in most cases it will not be a simple case of charging it back up again.
Statistically your regular car batteries would fail in the cold winter months. This would always apply when I was first time Lucas battery retailer in the 1970’s. I would stock up in the summer time when the battery companies would always have a quantity deal, all ready for the winter explosion of car battery sales. The first cold spell in November would bring in number of cars with our first rush of flat Cheap Car Batteries, it never failed us.
Since the early days car batteries have changed
There were a couple of marked differences concerning car batteries then compared to modern day cars. First the car manufacturers would make millions of one model of car. Say Vauxhall made millions of Vivas and Cavaliers. Including, Ford made millions of Escorts and Cortina’s. Then of course came the original Minis. They outcome of this was that the size and part number of the batteries were all the same. The 038 battery fitted almost every car other that the Fords. Opting for square bolt on terminals part numbers 037 and 085, later the 065 battery became more popular.
As years went by we started to import many makes of cars from the Far East. Such as Toyota, Nissan at first and then many more cars came into the UK. This had a massive effect on battery sizes and part numbers. Making the car batteries market more specialised.
This is where I made am good business decision! Deciding to make the battery market a key part of my business strategy. Although I did not know it the time this decision gave me contacts that were to last me right up to today.
Car batteries remained much the same
Significantly, the only thing that changed was the different terminals. Including, the physical sizes of the batteries. Of course, battery plates, became a new mix of alloys and lead alloys. So, companies the likes of Lucas batteries became one of the first to introduce practically sealed batteries that were maintenance free. Of course, there were no screw tops on the Car batteries. Consequently, for the driver to check the acid levels.
Also there was the evolution of the cars. Cars were now coming out on more sophisticated electrical systems, which required car batteries with more power. We found that a difference in the old type battery and the new type of battery was that the new types of battery did not give you much time after failure, one morning the battery light would come on in your car and you would need a new battery, there and then; you do not have the time any more.
This is why it is important to check the battery before the winter time and when the car has a service. The Car batteries-Cold weather that I have recently seen in the east coast of the USA makes me cringe at the number of drivers who must have been stuck in their cars with a dead battery. Remember they will let you down when you least expect them to! Car batteries do not give you much time. Subsequently, batteries now fail very rapidly, not giving the driver much time. So, to have a new battery fitted after the failure of the old battery.
Simply, lack of change time is now affected by the large amount of electrics that a modern car has on-board!
So my 40 year old advice is to check your car batteries before every winter! If the battery is over 5 years old. Then do not risk it and buy a new battery, once again especially before winter?
Please note these are the words and opinion of the author (Eric Roberts) only.