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BCAA’s top tips for proper car battery care

Nothing puts a damper on your day, like going to start your car, only to find that you have a dead battery. It usually happens without warning and always throws a real wrench in your plans. Luckily, BCAA is here to save the day, whether it’s to provide a quick boost or even deliver you a brand-new battery. Yep, that’s BCAA’s Battery Service Program hard at work!

Now more than ever, it’s crucial for British Columbians to ensure their cars are reliable and ready to go when they need to use them – even if it may not be as often or regularly as before. And proper maintenance is always the best approach to keep unpleasant surprises at bay. Read on to learn about what could be affecting your vehicle’s battery health and the steps you can take to keep it in good shape.

Factors that affect your vehicle’s battery health

  • Driving habits. Without regular driving, vehicle batteries can deteriorate over time. This is especially true for older batteries or feature-packed newer vehicles, and problems can start after just a few weeks of sitting parked.
  • Power-hungry gadgets. Even when a car is turned off, things like the clock, radio, and onboard computers continue to draw power from the battery. Over time, these drains will deplete the battery’s ability to start your car.
  • Extreme temperatures. As the temperature drops, so does your car battery power – at zero degrees Celsius, a vehicle’s battery loses about 35 percent of its strength. When it comes to weather, BCAA sees a spike in roadside assistance calls related to battery issues during really cold months (and really hot months as well).

car driving on snowy winter road

Driving less? Tips to protect your vehicle

As we shift into winter during the COVID-19 pandemic, the combination of cold weather and people driving less creates a perfect storm for battery trouble. With more time spent at home, vehicles are sitting idle, causing challenges for drivers when it’s time to start up again.

Back in April, when similar stay-home orders were in place, the calls for battery replacements jumped up 50 percent. While we strive to protect ourselves and our community by staying home, we may inadvertently cause our vehicle’s battery to lose its charge and not be able to start when we need it! To help avoid this, consider these tips to keep your battery in good shape:

  • Drive every 3-4 days, and drive until the engine temperature reads ½ way on the gauge. This is the proper operating temperature for your vehicle.
  • Make the most out of essential trips; even 30 to 45 minutes per week helps - this allows the alternator enough time to charge your battery.
  • Idling alone won’t work. Modern charging systems only give enough juice to keep the battery topped off enough to sufficiently run all the vehicle’s accessories. To get your battery to a fully charged state, you need to go for a drive.
  • Consider a battery maintainer to keep your battery charged while your car stays parked. Wired into your vehicle’s battery and plugged into the wall, battery maintainers can be ordered online to limit outings. Make sure you follow safe usage instructions.
  • Park your vehicle so that the battery is accessible in case you do need a boost.

technician working on car

Signs it might be time to replace your battery

When it comes to proper maintenance, the vehicle, the battery's health, and environmental conditions all play a role. On average, a battery will last 3 to 5 years, but driving habits and exposure to extreme elements can shorten its life. If your vehicle won’t start and you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it might be time to replace your battery:

  • Lights look different. If your headlights are dim and appear yellow instead of white, your battery’s power may be declining. You might also notice that interior dome lights appear dim or flicker, and warning lights may display on the dashboard.
  • The car horn sounds strange. When your car horn sounds less emphatic than usual, your car battery could be on the fritz.
  • Electronic accessories fail. Signs your car battery is failing include your radio, heated seats, or cell phone charger not working as usual.
  • It doesn’t look or smell right. Sometimes, a simple visual inspection or smell test is all it takes to know your battery is in trouble. If you notice a sulfur or rotten egg smell, or your battery is swollen, cracked, or corroded, it may be time for a replacement.

BCAA technician working during pandemic

BCAA is here to help

At home or on the road, we can get you moving. Here’s how:

  • If your battery needs a boost or replacement, BCAA Auto Service offers Members contact-free Battery Service wherever your vehicle is parked*.
  • Rest assured, knowing you’re covered. If you need a replacement, your new battery comes standard with a 6-year warranty. You’ll get a free replacement if it fails in the first 3 years and a discounted rate in the final 3 years. Plus, we will safely dispose of your old battery in an eco-friendly manner.
  • Our BCAA Battery Service Program is easy on the wallet. The service provided by our expert technicians is included in the cost of your new battery.
  • Concerned about the current health of your car battery? Visit your local BCAA Auto Service centre for a check. Plus, during the month of December 2020, BCAA Members get a free battery health check.

Pro Tip: The BCAA Mobile app makes it easy for Members to request BCAA Roadside Assistance from their smartphone. Download the app to get faster service by passing the calling queue and getting to our dispatch team directly. Plus, you can use the BCAA Service Tracker to see the driver’s location and estimated arrival in real-time where available as well!

Not a BCAA Member yet? Join today for less than $7 per month for all your battery needs and more. At home or on the road, we’re only a click or call away to help keep you moving!


*BCAA Battery Service availability varies depending on vehicle make and model, and is limited to service areas as outlined at bcaa.com/batteryservice.