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The number of drivers requiring a new car battery has doubled in the past four weeks, as time cars are left parked or only taken on short journeys takes its toll on vehicles.

According to Kwik-Fit Fleet, levels of battery failure in the past month have matched January levels, which is when the cold weather traditionally causes problems.

The company said it is not just older vehicles requiring attention, with a 10% rise in fleet vehicles requiring replacement batteries.

The company recommended that drivers not using their vehicles at all should start and run their cars for 15 minutes once or twice per week, staying with their vehicles while they do so. The recommendation is also to do so at the warmest part of the day, and to purchase a trickle charger to keep the battery topped up, if drivers have a driveway or garage close to an electrical socket.

“While the majority of the battery problems we are seeing are on older, private vehicles, we have also had an increasing number of fleet drivers come to us with issues,” said Dan Joyce, fleet director at Kwik Fit. “Under normal driving patterns battery problems are relatively rare for fleet vehicles, but at the moment, with many cars being unused for days or weeks at a time, the normal rules don’t apply. We don’t want any driver to make unnecessary journeys, but we do advise even those with modern fleet cars to run the engine regularly so that they are ready when the lock down eases.”

Bridgestone has also warned fleets to ensure tyres maintenance is not neglected during the inactivity.

“With the Coronavirus pandemic and extended lockdown being announced, it’s extremely important that tyres are continuously maintained during these challenging times,” said the company’s technical Gary Powell Bridgestonemanager Gary Powell (pictured). “For vehicles that are parked up for long periods of time, it’s essential to follow the simple guidelines below, so that your tyres are maintained in good condition during this time. Your tyres should be checked on a regular basis, ideally every seven to 14 days.”

The company recommended:

  • Tyres should be visually checked for abnormal wear and damage (e.g. cuts, bulges, screws, etc.). If you identify any concerns, get the tyre(s) inspected in more detail by a qualified tyre technician, when safely permitted to do so.
  • Ensure that the tyres are inflated to their optimum operating pressure. Tyre pressure recommendations can be found in the vehicle handbook or door pillar of the vehicle. Tyre pressures should be checked in cold condition with a calibrated pressure gauge.
  • Check that valve caps are of good quality and fitted correctly. The valve cap prevents dirt and moisture from getting in and causing damage to the valve core/stem.
  • Ensure that your car’s tyres are not standing in pools of water or contaminates. Oils, petrol and diesel, can severely damage tyres. If you spot these contaminates on your tyres, then you should remove using plenty of water and a mild detergent. Ensure that the tyres on your vehicle are parked in an area where water pooling and contaminates are eliminated. Also, ensure that the tyre footprint for all tyres on the vehicle are sitting on a flat road surface where practically feasible and ensure tyre sidewalls for all tyres on the vehicle are not depressed up against kerbs or raised iron works, as this could result in premature removal due to stress or deformation damage.
  • If feasible, store your car in a garage, as this will protect your tyres from direct sunlight. If you cannot garage your vehicle, then try and park your vehicle in the shade, as this will protect the tyres from accelerated ageing caused by extended sunlight and UV exposure.
  • When safely permitted to travel, check the visual condition of your tyres (e.g. cuts, bulges, screws, etc.) and tyre pressures before your journey. If you identify any concerns, please get your tyres inspected in more detail by a qualified tyre technician immediately.