Quickshift Autos

Expert Tips

8 tell-tale signs your battery’s running out of juice

If it is taking longer than usual to start your car, it’s a sign that your battery could be reaching the end of its life. Here’s how to spot a failing battery.

A car battery generally lasts from 3-5 years. However, driving habits and frequent short trips can shorten its life. The best way to avoid a flat battery is to keep an eye on it and have it inspected yearly when it reaches the three-year-mark.

8 signs you might need a new battery:

  1. Your car struggles to start – this is a sign your battery is on its last legs. A fast-clicking sound might also be heard when you turn the key to start.
  2. Dim headlights – your battery powers all the electronics in your vehicle from your lights, to your radio. if your headlights seem dimmer than usual, your battery is having problems.
  3. Your car remote won’t work – if your car remote suddenly stops working it’s a sign you have a flat battery.
  4. The battery case is cracked or swollen – a damaged battery should always be inspected by a professional.
  5. You see battery acid leaking - this powdery substance can be removed with a stiff brush to ensure good connectivity but is a sign your battery is getting old.
  6. A rotten egg smell - conventional acid lead automotive batteries are filled with a mixture of water and sulphuric acid. As the battery wears, some of the acid and water may evaporate leaving a bad smell.
  7. The battery light symbol on your dashboard lights up – this doesn’t necessarily you’re your battery is going to die, but it would be worth getting it checked out.
  8. Corroded battery connecters – even minor corrosion can stress your charging system causing battery failure.

Don't let oil sludge damage your car

Regular servicing is so important to keep your vehicle running reliably. Part of an auto service is an oil change, and while this might not seem like such a big thing, the consequences of not doing it can be serious. Without regular servicing the contaminated engine oil becomes thick and a sludge can build up in your engine. This prevents the normal flow of oil to the engine parts and can block its lubricating system and cause the engine to seize. And as you can imagine, this is not a good thing!

Are your wiper blades ready for safe driving this winter?

It doesn’t matter what sort of vehicle you drive, if you can’t see through your windscreen, it’s not safe. Wiper blades should be checked every 6 months and replaced every year – sooner if they’re not doing their job properly. Winter has well and truly arrived and if your wipers are damaged and it begins to rain heavily, the consequences could be severe.

Tell-tale signs of deterioration

  • You will begin to see the wipers streaking and smudging the windscreen.
  • Ragged or distorted blades are also a sign that a blade that is due for replacement.
  • Look for cracks in the rubber part of the blade, and rust or corrosion on the metal of the arm.
  • If the edge of the blade has a rounded edge, it will compromise the blade’s ability to make contact with the windscreen.

Make sure that new blades are high-quality and use clean water and windscreen-washer additive in the wiper reservoir. Leave the washing up liquid for the dishes as this can damage your paintwork and wiper blades.

Ditch the dealer

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to take your new car back to your dealer for servicing, to maintain its new car warranty. You have the freedom to take your car anywhere, provided your mechanic is qualified, registered and uses quality parts as specified by the manufacturer's log book– then your warranty remains intact.

5 ways to look after your car while you're not using it as much

Your car won’t be getting as much use at the moment, but it’s still important to make sure it’s kept in a good condition.

  1. If your car is parked outside you should consider getting a car cover for extra protection
  2. Check tyre pressures – look at your vehicle handbook to check the pressure you need
  3. Drive your car for at least 20 minutes once every two weeks
  4. You could disconnect the battery if you don’t intend to use your car at all
  5. Check your wiper blades haven’t deteriorated

Auto services are still open for business and taking extra precautions to make sure your car is clean and safe after it has been serviced, so now would be a good time to have that long overdue service done. This way, your car will stay fit and healthy and when distancing rules are relaxed, the last thing you need is a car that won’t start!

Clear the air

Think of your air filter as the lungs of your car. If it’s clogged up with dust, it will be letting dirty air into your engine, reducing its performance. The more stop-start driving you do the more often it’ll need a change.

Clunky cornering

While you are driving, your car makes many noises, most of which are perfectly normal. But if you hear a clunking or creaking sound while turning, it could be broken or worn out CV joints. If they are severly worn, they can even disintegrate while you are driving making you unable to drive your car, or even lose control. If you suspect this is happening, get them checked as soon as possible.

Don’t kill your car!

As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. It's also better than sitting by the side of the road with your broken down car, waiting for the tow truck to arrive! Having your car serviced on a regular basis will be cheaper than the cost of major repairs caused by neglect. There are all sorts of ways to damage your car and these include ignoring strange noises and driving for too long between services.

Squealing brakes

If you can hear a loud screeching sound when braking it’s a warning sign that new brake pads are needed, or at the very least require inspection to make sure they are safe. If you hear a grinding noise it means that metal is rubbing against metal and it’s likely that the brake pads have been worn down completely.

Time for an (oil) change

The oil and filter in your engine should be changed every 6-12 months depending on your vehicle’s make and age. But if you tow a trailer, frequently stop and start in traffic or make lots of short trips without letting your engine warm up, it could mean that your car will require more frequent oil changes. Make sure you follow your mechanic’s interval recommendations regarding oil and filter changes to avoid expensive repairs to your vehicle.