Does your SatNav and phone drain your car battery? | Advice - Car News Feb 2015

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09:50 Monday 23 Feb 2015

Energy-sapping SatNavs and smartphones have been a major cause of battery related breakdowns this winter according to new research by a leading repairer.

SatNavs and smartphones are the most common electrical items charged in-car according to a report released by KwikFit, with mobile phones, iPods, and tablets also featuring high on the list.

KwikFit found that 62 per cent of drivers charge devices in their vehicles, which could drain the battery leaving it short of the additional power needed to start the car during winter months. Battery issues are a common cause of vehicle breakdowns and starting issues, exacerbated by the finding that more than half of UK drivers fail to have their batteries checked before winter, with thirty-six per cent incorrectly believing that their battery’s health is checked as part of their car’s MOT.

The survey also revealed that over one-fifth of car batteries are more than five years old, which can lead to reduced performance from the battery.

KwikFit’s Roger Griggs said: “Many motorists don’t realise the effect devices plugged into their cars can have on a battery. Satnavs, tablets and other gadgets that are designed to make our lives more comfortable can actually have the opposite effect, by cutting short the life of even a new battery and leaving us stuck with a car that won’t start. We often see an increase in vehicles coming in with battery issues when the temperatures drop, normally to the surprise of the customer.”

However, we are not suggesting that everyone should immediately stop charging their devices in their car, as there are some obvious advantages to this, namely convenience and also saving money on your home electricity bill. Jason Lancaster, editor of Accurate Auto Advice, had this to say:

"Car batteries need a few hundred amps of capacity to start a car in normal conditions. If you leave your headlights on - which can consume as much as 80 watts per bulb - your battery is providing 11 amps of current. After an hour or two, that's enough current to completely drain the typical car battery."

"Your cell phone charger, on the other hand, consumes 3-4 watts, meaning your battery is providing less than half an amp of current. Most car batteries can provide this amount of energy for 80 hours before completely discharging."

So don't go unplugging all of your devices immediately, but charge your devices mindfully and keep your battery healthy.


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