Car battery about to go?

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Aky786UK
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I've got a 2.0 Avensis Petrol and during the lockdown, like many, I've been driving sporadically (even outside of lockdown, I'm not a keen driver!) but last week or so I've started the car, but the battery seems to be doing more before it starts.

Not clicking, but a whirring sound before it turns the engine and starts up. I'm envisioning a battery change (worst case scenario) but could I avoid that by starting it regularly and conducting any more checks under the bonnet that may be causing this?

I don't think it has been exceptionally frosty during the lockdown from what I can remember and I have been driving once a week a few times so just concerned there's a big change to come (new battery) or if it's just a lethargy due to not being driven regularly that will sort itself out by starting it more/driving it more.

Thank you
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tmr19
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Depending on how old your battery is it may be that the battery is struggling to hold a charge - made worse by the fact it's getting charged less often over lockdown. This is evidenced by your car turning over more laboriously than usual.

My car has a fairly old battery and I'm in the same position where, if it's sitting for a week, you can tell the battery is struggling to deliver enough power as it's self discharged quite quickly over the period. My advice would be to do as you say, start up your car more often and let it idle or drive around a bit to build some charge back up (or get a cheap battery charger from somewhere like halfords). If it's still evident that your battery isn't holding charge after all of that then I'd get it replaced for peace of mind.
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the bear
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batteries do not last forever... at some point you will need to get a new one.
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Talon
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Firstly, a new battery is not a big change and can be done in a few minutes. Secondly, how long are your journeys? If they are just short ones to the shops, consider changing your route to make it a bit longer. I make a point of driving round the town bypass when I'm picking up food, just to make sure the engine gets a bit of a run and the battery charges.
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Dunnig Kruger
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If you are not going to use your car for a while, disconnect the black negative battery terminal (make sure you have your radio code if you need one for your car before doing this).
It only takes a minute. Reconnect the battery when you're ready to drive again.
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Benter
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(Original post by Aky786UK)
I've got a 2.0 Avensis Petrol and during the lockdown, like many, I've been driving sporadically (even outside of lockdown, I'm not a keen driver!) but last week or so I've started the car, but the battery seems to be doing more before it starts.

Not clicking, but a whirring sound before it turns the engine and starts up. I'm envisioning a battery change (worst case scenario) but could I avoid that by starting it regularly and conducting any more checks under the bonnet that may be causing this?

I don't think it has been exceptionally frosty during the lockdown from what I can remember and I have been driving once a week a few times so just concerned there's a big change to come (new battery) or if it's just a lethargy due to not being driven regularly that will sort itself out by starting it more/driving it more.

Thank you
When you next go shop, go to a store further away
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Aky786UK
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I'd been starting it up weekly, and this week the battery died on me. Luckily, was able to jump start it and get it going again. Lesson learnt - will make an effort to start it up regularly - I'd assumed with the weather temperatures being fairly mild that the battery would be fine, perhaps being a petrol car it needs more TLC than a diesel (car newbie speaking out loud here..!)

Does it make a difference if I just start it stationery or actually taking it for a drive (how long?)
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StriderHort
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(Original post by Aky786UK)
Does it make a difference if I just start it stationery or actually taking it for a drive (how long?)
To my knowledge yes, charging is roughly linked to engine RPM, so it should charge at idle, but not much. If the radio/heating whatever came on at the same time, it's possible that a few short/idle starts would drain more charge than gain. I don't know 'how long' to charge but I'd generally go a 1-2 hours drive, the faster/steadier speed the better.

I have one of those wee £30 OBD fault code/diagnostic boxes for my car that works with my phone, and it's pretty handy being able to have a poke about the voltages and have it chart graphs while driving, that would tell you pretty accurately how your battery was charging when driving.
Last edited by StriderHort; 6 months ago
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RyanS03
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Yes it does, I would recommend taking it down a good 70mph stretch of dual carriageway, (or motorway where possible) that is near a shop / kind of on the way to the shop, perhaps plan it into your route, a good run will help keep the battery healthy. Sitting on the drive idling is probably not a good idea.
Last edited by RyanS03; 6 months ago
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Nuffles
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(Original post by Dunnig Kruger)
If you are not going to use your car for a while, disconnect the black negative battery terminal (make sure you have your radio code if you need one for your car before doing this).
It only takes a minute. Reconnect the battery when you're ready to drive again.
Sometimes a battery tender is the better option.

If you're anal (like me) and use the trip odometer to measure the miles you get to a tank of fuel then you'll lose that record when you disconnect the battery. If you also have an aftermarket stereo with a few settings applied (backlight colour, high pass/low pass filters, EQ settings, etc.) then you'll have to go through and set them all up again as the stereo will go back to factory settings (including the dreaded demo mode) once disconnected from the battery.

If you don't care about that kinda stuff (and a lot of people don't) then disconnecting the battery is a good shout. If you do care then a battery tender will just keep the battery topped up and in good condition.
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Dunnig Kruger
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(Original post by Nuffles)
Sometimes a battery tender is the better option.

If you're anal (like me) and use the trip odometer to measure the miles you get to a tank of fuel then you'll lose that record when you disconnect the battery. If you also have an aftermarket stereo with a few settings applied (backlight colour, high pass/low pass filters, EQ settings, etc.) then you'll have to go through and set them all up again as the stereo will go back to factory settings (including the dreaded demo mode) once disconnected from the battery.

If you don't care about that kinda stuff (and a lot of people don't) then disconnecting the battery is a good shout. If you do care then a battery tender will just keep the battery topped up and in good condition.
Indeed, for the 1% to 2% of people that don't park their cars on the street overnight and that are in the situations you've described, a battery tender would be a better solution than disconnecting the black battery terminal.
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PhoenixFortune
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(Original post by Aky786UK)
I'd been starting it up weekly, and this week the battery died on me. Luckily, was able to jump start it and get it going again. Lesson learnt - will make an effort to start it up regularly - I'd assumed with the weather temperatures being fairly mild that the battery would be fine, perhaps being a petrol car it needs more TLC than a diesel (car newbie speaking out loud here..!)

Does it make a difference if I just start it stationery or actually taking it for a drive (how long?)
I'm in a similar situation. I took my petrol car for a 35 mile drive the day that the lock down was announced. I then didn't drive it for 6 weeks (big mistake, I know), and it was flat as a pancake when I decided to take it out for a run. Jump-started it, went driving for about 25 minutes thinking that that would be enough, and guess what: a week later, it's completely flat again. Out of interest, I checked my car's paperwork, and the battery is the original - so 12 years old! I'm pretty sure the lack of use due to the lock down was the final straw for it, so that means that I now probably need a new battery. I'm holding off getting one just yet though, as I'm not using my car regularly enough to warrant the cost at the moment, and I want to make sure I can keep it charged when I do install it.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Talon)
Firstly, a new battery is not a big change and can be done in a few minutes. Secondly, how long are your journeys? If they are just short ones to the shops, consider changing your route to make it a bit longer. I make a point of driving round the town bypass when I'm picking up food, just to make sure the engine gets a bit of a run and the battery charges.
Ha! If only. In some cars it might just be a case of taking one out and putting another in, but in a lot of higher-end, modern cars the battery needs 'coding' to the car's engine management system in order for it to be charged correctly or even recognised. And that can be £120 a throw at a dealership (a local garage did mine for £40, but I probably could have done it myself using the right software)
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Jang Gwangnam
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Same, when I needed the car it didn't turn over. I then started my old man's diesel to jump my car and drove it for 1hr then left it for a few days and it was flat again.

Ended up opting to buy a battery that had a 5 years warranty since I didn't want the hassle of jumping the car whenever I needed it (especially these days now that the Quarantine has easened up).
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IWMTom
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(Original post by Reality Check)
Ha! If only. In some cars it might just be a case of taking one out and putting another in, but in a lot of higher-end, modern cars the battery needs 'coding' to the car's engine management system in order for it to be charged correctly or even recognised. And that can be £120 a throw at a dealership (a local garage did mine for £40, but I probably could have done it myself using the right software)
Not even higher end - most VAG built cars with stop/start have a battery control module that needs telling when the battery is replaced so it doesn't overcharge!
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CurlyBen
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A lead acid battery (like you get in a car) shouldn't be charged at more than 10-30% of capacity, which means a badly drained battery could take 10 hours to fully charge. 20 minutes isn't going to do a lot. You'd be better off putting it on a proper battery charger (which could easily take days to full charge, depending on the charger - I had a battery take about 36 hours to fully charge last week).
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