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Broken car battery: causes and tips

The ADAC had to go out almost 3.8 million times last year to provide breakdown assistance. The car battery was to blame in more than every third case (42 percent). Over 1.5 million breakdowns were caused by a striking starter battery. But why actually? What makes the battery so sensitive that it leaves millions of drivers down every year?

Causes of a weak car battery

The car battery is actually not that sensitive. However, most drivers only pay attention to it when it goes on strike. The reasons for this are usually bad habits and lack of care:

Short distances: When the car starts, the battery is used the most. It then takes a short time to recharge. This happens while driving via the alternator. But what many forget: you draw power from the battery while you are driving. Car radio, air conditioning, heated seats, etc. It takes a correspondingly long time until the battery is full again. Anyone who only drives short distances now simply does not give the battery enough time to fully charge. Over time, the battery discharges more and more - until nothing works.

Consumers forget: Fortunately, this no longer happens in modern cars, because most of them have an automatic system that switches off the lights and other consumers when the ignition is switched off. Otherwise, forgetting to switch off the headlights overnight can paralyze the battery. Even those who run consumers with the ignition switched on (e.g. car radio while cleaning the car) run the risk of running out of juice.

Low capacity: If batteries are not fully charged, sulfate crystals are deposited on the battery plates due to the low voltage. The result: the capacity of the battery drops. If the battery is not fully recharged over a long period of time (e.g. on many short journeys), the sulphation cannot be reversed. The capacity continues to decrease until the battery dies.

Leakage currents: If the battery contacts are dirty, leakage currents can gradually discharge the battery. This is why it is all the more important to keep the car battery clean.

Cold: Car batteries are also affected by cold temperatures. That's why she mostly goes on strike in winter. The battery loses its power in cool temperatures, and at the same time the engine needs more power to start. The additional consumers that are used in winter (e.g. seat heating, steering wheel heating) are also a burden. If the car battery has already struck, the cold often results in total failure.

Other causes: The battery itself does not always have to be the cause of a striking battery. If the alternator is defective, the battery will no longer be charged. The effect is the same: the car does not start anymore. You can usually tell that the alternator is the cause of the breakdown by the fact that the charge control lamp in the cockpit flashes. In addition, the defect is often noticeable by a squeaking noise. A short circuit in the electronics, which consumes a lot of power in a very short time, or a fault in the control unit can also be the cause of an empty battery.

Battery strikes - what can I do?

Video: Advice on starting aid (2017)

This is how the jump start works

To the video page

Jump start:
If the car no longer starts, you can help the battery with jump start help. But often there is no one around who can briefly step in. But then it doesn't have to be the expensive breakdown service. Many taxi companies are happy to help you bridge the gap - just ring the bell briefly and ask for help. This not only saves the annoying waiting time for the breakdown service, but also money. Depending on the route, the taxi companies only take 15 to 25 euros for start-up assistance.

Charging the car battery: If time is not on your neck, the car battery can be connected to a charger and recharged (car battery chargers being tested). If the battery is not yet fully discharged - i.e. the car still starts, but the first signs (e.g. flickering headlights) indicate that the battery is about to die - a long journey overland can recharge the battery.

Pushing: If the battery still has residual voltage and it is a switch truck, you can try pushing it. Engage second gear and release the clutch. If the car still does not start, you should not try again, otherwise there is a risk of damage from fuel in the catalytic converter.

How can you prevent failure?

Some chargers can even reverse damage caused by sulfation.

Especially those who often only drive short distances should use the car battery regularly connect to a charger. Alternatively, you can also cover a longer distance overland to reload. The journey should take at least 30 minutes. In order not to put unnecessary strain on the battery, heavy consumers such as seat or rear window heating should be avoided on short journeys. Another important point is that Keeping the battery cleanto avoid leakage currents. Further tips on caring for the car battery can be found here
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