Friday, March 24

Post-lockdown tips to beat car blues

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As parts of the city prepares to get back to work, albeit in a graded manner, many of the parked vehicles in garages and underground parkings will not really spring back to life at the touch of ignition.

With lockdowns having been enforced for nearly two months, many of the private vehicles had been parked for that many days without any maintenance.

The first casualty of such prolonged non-use is the battery. Most city dealerships are preparing to stock up spare batteries as they feel there will be a deluge of calls complaining of “dead batteries or partially discharged batteries”.

“The vehicle will not start when the ignition is turned on. If the engine does not make a sound at all… the best thing will be to call up the workshop or the battery company,” said a workshop mechanic.

“We will send a spare battery to our customers and bring the dead battery back for recharging. Or, we can also send jumper cables to start the car,” said a spokesperson for a Honda dealership in the city.

Explaining what causes the battery to die over prolonged non-use, the mechanic said: “A fully charged battery has lead plates suspended in a solution of water and sulphuric acid. As the battery discharges, sulphur is drawn out of the battery acid and the lead plates become coated in lead sulfate. This is a reversible process. When you connect a charger to a battery or when the alternator provides current to it when the engine is running, most of the lead sulfate coating on the lead plates return to the liquid electrolyte.”

While the process is reversible, the number of charge and discharge cycles is limited. “So you may find that a battery that has been jump-started or charged from dead more than a handful of times will have to be replaced anyway,” said the mechanic.

For hybrid cars, which have two batteries in the vehicle — auxiliary and hybrid — it is the auxiliary one, which starts the engine, that can drain out if not in use for a prolonged period, said Topsel Toyota service manager Subhashish Ganguly.

The other issue with cars that have not been in use will be the wheels. Jammed wheels are a common problem with stalled cars.

However, jammed wheels can be fixed by sudden release of clutch and driving the car with force. “If that doesn’t help, the workshop needs to be alerted,” said the mechanic.

“We are keeping a team ready to attend to such service calls from customers. We are going to provide on-site service. Even if the lockdown is lifted, we may not be able to operate the workshop in full because of norms of social distancing,” said Neelmani Sharma of the sole Mercedes dealership in the city, Benchmark Interkrafts.


Source: The Telegraph

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