Flat or not? Battery issues are our number one call-out

The new RAC Battery Tester

Anybody who has ever owned a car has probably at some stage endured the frustration of a flat battery and a journey abandoned as a result.

In business it can be extremely disruptive if you’re expected to be somewhere for an important meeting, and potentially costly if you miss an event and the potential of new business as a result.

Even more frustrating is when you may suspect a flat battery and get it changed for a new one, only to then discover that wasn’t in fact the fault after all, and you still can’t get the engine going.

How is the RAC helping with this issue?

Now the RAC has begun equipping all of its 1,500 patrols with state-of-the-art battery testers which will enable them to carry out full roadside diagnostic checks on the health of a vehicle’s battery, starting and charging systems, and provide customers with detailed reports of the findings.

Breakdowns involving batteries are the number one cause of RAC call-outs with patrols attending more than 445,000 members in 2015. But the nature of these breakdowns is becoming increasing complex due to advances in battery technology.

It also represents another example of great innovation at the RAC, as we continually work to minimise disruption for our business customers, and make sure we can get you back on the road as soon as possible if you do suffer a vehicle breakdown.

It follows recent initiatives such as the RAC Universal Spare Wheel, and the ‘van-for-van’ feature of our Onward Travel product.

Each one of the RAC’s 1,500 Patrols carries nine types of battery on board, which will cover the vast majority of vehicles we service.

RAC Patrols will fit the parts free of charge and only invoice you for the cost of the parts used up to the value of £300, to ensure we keep your vehicles on the road and your business moving. Anything more than £300 will need to be authorised by the business owner or fleet manager.

Why has this been introduced now?

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 electric 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.

The RAC’s technical director Phil Ryan explains why the new piece of kit has been introduced:

“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 partially 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.

“The unit carries out a five-minute charge acceptance test which displays both the battery's cranking state of health – the ability to start the vehicle – and its reserve capacity. This gives patrols a final decision on whether a battery is fit for purpose or needs replacing.

“Sometimes the battery can be the victim and not the cause as there can be occasions where an inferior testing device shows that a battery needs replacing when in fact it is actually a symptom of a wider problem in the vehicle’s starting and charging system. This would often 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 will no longer have to face going forwards.”

After testing a vehicle’s starting and charging system the RAC member can ask the patrol for the detailed report to be emailed, providing them with a permanent record so they know exactly what’s happened to their battery.

Not only does this new bit of kit clear up any ambiguity concerning what’s wrong with your battery but it enables us to fix your vehicle and get you back on the road quickly so you can get on with your working day with minimal disruption.

 

If you’d like to find out more about how we’re using the latest technology to improve our breakdown services visit RAC Business Breakdown or call 0330 159 1174.

Posted: 06/06/2016