November 21, 2017

Prevent flat batteries over the holiday period

Returning to work after the holiday break can be a bit of a letdown. But it can be downright frustrating if you discover your fleet of vehicles won’t start!

Every year we see this issue crop up. Fortunately, it’s 100% avoidable with a bit of preventative maintenance.

Part of the issue stems from the fact that vehicles are being manufactured with smaller and smaller batteries. The size of a typical battery size in light vehicles is now 45Ah, which is a far cry from more the powerful 90-100Ah batteries found in larger vehicles.

Vehicle manufacturers are also now adding features such as “smart charging” into new vehicles, which reduces the charge rates of batteries to reduce fuel consumption. It also means you need to be driving longer to charge your batteries.

This becomes a problem when additional electronics are added into the mix. When you start adding additional layers of complexity through devices such as two-way radios, GPS modules and satellite communications, batteries can go flat in a as little as a week if they’re not being used.

Typically, this affects light/white fleet, trade vehicles and specialised trucks/plant that are only used occasionally. It also affects vehicles with ageing batteries.

If your fleet of vehicles isn’t going to be used between the 24th December and the 10th January 2023 – two full weeks sitting idle – then it’s possible that they may face issues starting in the new year.

What makes matters worse is if the batteries are already partially discharged or operating at below optimum capacity. If some of your vehicles have already sat idle as your organisation winds up at the end of the year, then it’s recommended to give the batteries a good charge before the break and ideally disconnect them. Otherwise, they are likely to risk being flat when you return to work.

So, what can you do to ensure your fleet of vehicles are charged and ready to go in the new year?

  1. If you have a master switch fitted, ensure you check it’s turned off. An auto electrician can see to this if the switches are still on.
  2. Have a mechanic or auto electrician on stand-by in the new year to jump start any vehicles that may have had issues over the break. It may also be worth investing in a jump start pack to make the process quicker.
  3. Disconnect the vehicle batteries before heading away. If no one is going to be driving the vehicles in your fleet for an extended period of time, work with your mechanics to disconnect the batteries. This way you can guarantee they'll be charged next year.
  4. If disconnecting your batteries isn't an option, we've still got you covered. The Smartrak Timed Power-Off Harness will make sure the electronics don't draw too much power and completely drain your vehicles, by disconnecting Smartrak's hardware after a set amount of time - avoiding unnecessary battery drain.

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