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Four reasons your car battery is getting drained

Sometimes, it can be baffling to pinpoint a battery problem. BAREND SMIT, marketing director of MotorHappy, offers his advice.

Your car battery has two main functions. One is to supply the current via spark plugs so your car can start. The second function is to supply current to all the electrical systems of your car. If your battery can’t hold the charge properly, it won’t have the power to perform these functions. Worst-case scenario, you won’t be able to start the car. Plus, the electrical equipment, devices, and features of your car won’t work.

There are four main reasons why your car battery might be getting drained: 

  • Faulty alternator; 
  • Parasitic drain;
  • Corroded or loose terminal and wires; and 
  • Poor battery condition.

Your car’s alternator charges the battery while your car is running. If your car has a faulty alternator, your car battery won’t be able to hold the charge and will continue getting drained.

In this case, the only real option is to replace the alternator. The cost of replacing an alternator can be anywhere between R7,000 to R15,000, depending on the type of vehicle you drive.

Not many South African homes currently have that much money available at short notice, which is when a maintenance plan really begins to show its value. Most maintenance plans include alternator replacement. This means that expensive vehicle repairs are covered through easy, fixed monthly payment plans.

Another reason why a car battery might be draining is because of a parasitic drain. This happens if there are certain defective chips and sensors in your car. Even if you turn off the ignition, they keep drawing power and end up draining the battery.

This is the most frustrating of all reasons because it is very difficult to pinpoint the cause. The only solution is to enlist the help of a trusted professional to find the component causing the parasitic drain and replace it.

A third possible cause for your car battery being drained is corroded or loose terminal and wires. With the passage of time, the battery cable and terminals can become corroded. This may cause the battery to drain sooner than expected. Cables and terminals are responsible for providing passage for current, and rusty cable or terminal won’t allow the battery to charge, resulting in a drained battery.

Visit your local automotive store to look for solution fluids that help to get rid of rust. Thoroughly clean the battery terminals with the fluid. If it doesn’t resolve the problem, try replacing the cable or terminals or both.

Finally, the problem could be caused the battery itself. If the battery is too old, chances are it won’t be able to hold the charge properly. Older batteries tend to drain faster, especially if you take frequent short trips. The only solution in this scenario is to replace the battery.

There are several other reasons why your car battery might be drained. Extreme weather changes can also impact your battery. Having a battery that won’t hold a charge and keeps dying can be frustrating, especially when the problem is not obvious. A qualified technician will be able to run a diagnostic test to help identify the cause.

 * MotorHappy is a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options. Visit https://www.motorhappy.co.za/ for more information.

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