UK drivers are being warned that a combination of drastically reduced car use due to enforced lockdown restrictions, and a spell of wintery conditions, could cause havoc for car batteries – leaving drivers unable to use their vehicles or facing unwanted maintenance costs. Breakdown service provider RAC has confirmed that it deals with over 400,000 callouts for battery issues during colder months. The addition of the ongoing lockdown restrictions could mean that this period in 2021 will be busier than ever.
To help combat the issue, pay-by-mile car insurance provider By Miles is launching a new app feature for its users, to warn them of a low battery level and prepare drivers to take action to strengthen the charge. The feature launch seeks to prevent a wave of breakdowns across the UK as Britain emerges from the current national lockdown and the coldest winter in a decade.
By Miles’ own data shows that driving levels in the UK have dropped by 51%, in comparison with the same point in 2020, since the current national lockdown was announced on January 4th. Many cars will have been left on driveways for weeks in the cold without being used regularly, causing battery levels to drastically reduce and result in a vehicle not starting. During cold temperatures, starting an engine can take up to twice as much current as needed under normal conditions.
As spring nears and lockdown restrictions start to gradually ease, many drivers may find that their cars simply won’t start. Some of the options drivers can use to restart a flat battery, such as a jump start, can damage the long-term health of the battery – increasing the chances of needing a replacement further down the line. By avoiding such methods, drivers can save on expensive maintenance, with the average cost of a new car battery around £150.
As part of setting up their pay-by-mile car insurance policy, By Miles members plug a matchbox-sized device into their car to count their miles, called a Miles Tracker. In order to keep track of battery health, the By Miles app uses this device to check the charge remaining in a driver’s car battery, and will alert them when it drops below a certain amount, reminding them to start the car’s engine or go for a quick drive to keep the battery charged. The battery health check requires no additional work for the driver.
James Blackham, CEO and Co-founder of By Miles says, “With a combination of cold weather, and prolonged periods of lower mileage due to the lockdown restrictions resulting in a loss of strength, right now is a crunch point for flat batteries in vehicles. We are calling for drivers to be aware of the current strain on car batteries and to take measures where possible to keep the charge strong.
At By Miles, we’re on a mission to use tech to make car ownership easier, cheaper and fairer. Our new one-of-a-kind feature will empower drivers on our pay-by-mile car insurance policies to know exactly how road-ready their vehicles are. This will save them both the cost and inconvenience of a callout and possibly the cost of a new battery. This service comes at no extra cost or hassle to our customers.”