Top tips to care for your car or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle’s (WAV) battery

Flat batteries are one of the most common problems that breakdown services deal with over the winter months. A combination of cold weather, reduced car use and the increased need for electrics such as lights and heating can all contribute to battery drain.

But there can be problems with your car battery at any time of the year. To reduce the likelihood of these issues with your battery, we’ve put together some key tips to help.

How to keep your battery charged

There are a few simple things you can do to help keep your battery in good working order:

  • Use your vehicle regularly: The easiest thing to do is to drive your vehicle regularly and where possible avoid going long periods without using it. If you’ve not driven your vehicle for a while, try to make a longer journey next time you use it to get a good amount of charge back in the battery.
  • Check your lights and doors: If you’ve been driving in the dark, make sure you switch your lights off. Leaving vehicle lights on overnight can quickly drain a battery of all its charge. Similarly, check your doors and boot are shut properly and your vehicle is correctly locked as this can also cause battery drain if your vehicle is not fully shut down.
  • Check your electricals: If you have any electronics fitted, such as a dash cam, make sure these are fully powered down as this can drain your battery.

Why do batteries drain?

Systems such as alarms and remote locking key fobs mean modern vehicles consume electricity even when you are not using them. If a vehicle isn’t driven for a few weeks, next time you go to drive you may find that the battery has gone flat.

If you only tend to use your vehicle for shorter journeys, you may also struggle with battery drain. This is because the battery will not receive a full charge during a short journey, and over time this may eventually result in it running out of charge.

Top battery tips for WAV and adaptations customers

If you drive a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV), Drive from Wheelchair WAV or have adaptations fitted to your Motability Scheme car, you should take extra care with your vehicle battery. This is because certain adaptations and converted features will often rely on the battery as a power source, meaning that it is having to work a little harder.

If your WAV is fitted with a winch or electro-reels for the front wheelchair tie-downs, make sure these are switched off whenever you park your vehicle. For vehicles with hydraulic tail lifts, try to make sure you have everything you need before entering or leaving the vehicle on the lift as using this repeatedly can reduce battery power.

It’s well worth taking a bit of time to maintain the battery and hopefully reduce the risk of any problems occurring during your lease.

For any car or WAV, if you usually go on short drives, consider taking longer trips to make sure your battery properly recharges. If you’re doing regular short trips, like going to a local shop twice a week, you may find your battery is using more power than the alternator can recharge due to increased vehicle function use.

Top battery tips for EV customers

Most vehicle manufacturers recommend you charge your battery to 80% rather than 100%, unless you’re going on a long journey. You should also aim to charge it every few days, instead of every day.

Try to avoid your battery charge dropping too low. It’s recommended that keeping your EV charge above 20% will help the battery stay healthy.

If you have a home charger, you can pre-condition your car while it’s still connected to the charger. This is handy for defrosting and heating your car on chilly mornings and means you won’t use any of your battery in the process as the electricity is drawn from the main, not the car itself.

What if my battery goes flat?

If your battery runs out of charge and your car won’t start, RAC Motability Assist are on hand to help. They will be able to attend and diagnose the issue and potentially charge or replace your battery. They’ve recently launched a new smartphone app, called myRAC, which makes it quicker and easier to report a breakdown and could help you save money on fuel.

Download the myRAC app and you could win a £100 Amazon voucher

If you are having repeated issues with your battery, it is worth speaking to your dealer or WAV supplier as there may be a problem with another part of the vehicle that is impacting the battery. Don’t forget you can easily find the contact details for your dealer or supplier in your Motability Scheme online account.

Learn more about the online account

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Looking after your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV)

Moving from Car to Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV): my experience on the Motability Scheme

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