Car batteries

Improving battery life and reducing breakdowns

10 March 2011

AA patrols replaced around 140,000 car batteries last year but simple steps could double battery life.

Every year, up to a fifth of cars on the road will require a new battery but you can take years off the life expectancy of a car's battery by not regularly fully charging it. This not only costs you money but also risks the inconvenience of a breakdown.

The problem is that batteries take longer to charge fully, while being placed under greater demand by the ever increasing range of power-hungry 'creature comforts' fitted to modern cars.

Today's cars draw around three times as much electrical current than a 1970s Morris Minor.

According to AA patrol of the year Paul Leather: "It takes a lot longer to fully charge a modern car battery than many people realise – typically 240 miles of driving with no load or eight hours of continuous driving – which can unfortunately lead to problems.

"This demand on the battery is why they're still our most common call-out after more than 100 years, accounting for around one in seven breakdowns".

If you only make short stop-start journeys, the battery won't have the chance to fully charge, which will considerably shorten its life.

AA patrols see cases where the battery has failed after only two to three years rather than the usual five to six, because of only doing short journeys.

Give your battery a chance

Regular long runs in the car could double your battery's life but if this isn't possible, a battery trickle charger will keep it in good condition, extend its life and give you the reassurance that your car will start.

There are other simple steps you can take to extend battery life, particularly in cold weather: when you park up and when you start the car, make sure everything electrical is turned off, and dip the clutch when starting to help take some load off the starter motor and, in turn, the battery.

If your car struggles to start and your battery is more than five years old, it's on borrowed time, so get it replaced. It's better done at your convenience rather than as a roadside emergency.

Read more about Car batteries here »

Battery breakdowns

AA patrols attended around half a million battery-related breakdowns last year and replaced around 140,000 batteries – up from around 126,000 in 2009.

We replaced 24,000 batteries in December alone.

AA Battery Assist

To help all drivers (members and non-members) the AA can now fit a battery on the spot at any time – it doesn't have to be in a breakdown situation.

Between them, AA patrols and our dedicated AA Battery Assist technicians between carry more than 10,000 batteries, which can be fitted for no additional charge at the roadside 24/7, 365 days a year.

As well as saving time, customers have the reassurance of the AA's price promise, which will refund any difference on a like-for-like basis.

AA patrols are fully qualified and the AA has invested £750,000 in state-of-the-art battery testing equipment so they can provide a quick and accurate diagnosis of a battery's health.

All the batteries that the AA removes at the roadside are taken back for recycling.

Intelligent battery charger

The AA Shop sells the award-winning CTEK Intelligent Battery Charger Multi XS3600.


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