RAC battery testing – the most advanced form of battery testing on the roads

RAC battery testing – the most advanced form of battery testing on the roads
The RAC’s 1,500 patrols are equipped with the most advanced, state-of-the-art battery testers which enable them to carry out comprehensive roadside diagnostics on the health of a vehicle’s battery, starting and charging systems.

The device not only checks how much power is in the battery and its ability to start a vehicle, it also accurately assesses the longer term endurance of the battery and advises when a replacement is needed, helping to prevent members having to call us out again, often in a matter of days, when their vehicle won’t start again.

It is this capability to determine a battery's endurance by assessing its capacity loss and its ability to support a vehicle's starting and auxiliary power requirements that sets the RAC roadside battery diagnostic tester apart from the testing equipment currently used by other roadside assistance providers, dealerships, repair networks and garages.

If a battery is unable to support these requirements the tester gives a ‘poor reserve’ result and will conclude that it needs to be replaced. While a battery in this condition may be capable of being charged up and then starting a vehicle, crucially it has lost the ability to hold enough power for an acceptable period of time meaning it is no longer truly fit for purpose.

The RAC roadside battery tester (DSS-7000S) is designed and manufactured by the world leader in battery diagnostics, Midtronics, and is the only model of its kind in use in the UK.

More information about the RAC's battery testing technology can be found in this short informative video.

RAC operations director Phil Ryan said: “The RAC Midtronics battery diagnostic tester brings a new level of quality, accuracy and consistency to breakdown battery testing from one device. One particular benefit is a significant improvement in the testing accuracy of discharged batteries, allowing our patrols to give members a definitive opinion on their batteries’ health or that of the vehicle’s starting and charging system."

Since introducing the Midtronics DSS-7000S in June 2016 the RAC has analysed the results of hundreds of thousands of tests which has found no increase in the number of ‘condemned’ batteries or the number of replacements we offer. However, our patrols are definitely identifying failing batteries earlier and helping our members avoid suffering repeat battery breakdowns.

Breakdowns involving batteries are the number one cause of RAC call-outs with patrols attending on average around 560,000 members a year. But the nature of these breakdowns is becoming increasingly complex due to advances in battery technology.

Batteries have developed rapidly in recent years with the advent of Enhanced Flooded Batteries (EFB) and Absorbent Glass Matt (AGM) technology, both of which are used in ‘stop-start’ vehicles. And, with up to 70% of new vehicles produced in Europe featuring ‘stop-start’ technology, there is a growing requirement to diagnose issues with these batteries in breakdown situations, particularly the EFB ones as they are becoming the manufacturers’ preferred ‘more affordable’ option for mass production.

In addition to repeatedly starting the vehicle every time it comes to a stop on a journey, today's batteries must stand up to more demand on their resources than ever before. Batteries are expected to provide power for a wide range of systems – including power windows, heated seats, power steering, climate control, heated steering wheels, DVDs and MP3 players. As a result the demands on a modern vehicle battery are very different today than they were 40 years ago.

Phil Ryan added: “Sometimes the battery can be the victim and not the cause as there can be occasions where there is a wider problem in the vehicle’s starting or charging system. This could lead to a new battery being damaged or flattened in a short space of time which can be very frustrating for all concerned. Fortunately, this is one challenge that RAC patrols no longer have to face as the RAC tester carries out a full starting and charging system test and provides the patrol and the customer easy to understand results.”

After testing a vehicle’s battery, starting and charging system the RAC patrol can email a detailed report to the member so they have a permanent record of the results.

If you have any concerns about the service you received when you suffered a battery-related breakdown please contact: breakdowncustomercare@rac.co.uk.