Low battery caused by infrequent/short usage

Faults and Technical chat for the Vauxhall Astra K
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farrinaf
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Joined: Fri Nov 01, 2019 3:40 pm

Low battery caused by infrequent/short usage

Post by farrinaf » Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:39 am

I have a 66 plate 1.4T (B14XFT - 110KW) Astra K Sports Tourer.

Car sees little usage (couple of times a week for short journeys ie say under 4 miles).

This morning it refused to start - advising low battery voltage, which I confirmed at 11.4v. My pattern of usage is likely to be the cause. Its currently on a charger.

Obviously I will need to monitor the battery more closely. On my previous car (a diesel Ford Mondeo) it used to forewarn and display a warning message if the battery was low, but the Astra only seems to do this post event!

Couple of questions I hope the reader may be able to assist with.

Would it be possible/sensible to fit a bigger capacity battery (say from a Astra diesel) and if so any recommendations ?

Is it possible to monitor the battery voltage via the Intellilink display (R4.0) in the car (hope there might be a hidden diagnostic menu)

Cheers

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Shaky
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2018 7:23 pm
Astra Model: 1.4T Elite Nav Sports Tourer
Astra Colour: Flip Chip Silver
Location: Gilberdyke, East Yorkshire

Re: Low battery caused by infrequent/short usage

Post by Shaky » Thu Jul 30, 2020 11:26 am

Do you have a private drive you park the car on or is it parked on the public street ? Mine gets very infrequent use (sometimes only once a fortnight) so I have a battery tender/monitor plugged in permanently. The thing is, if the car has the alarm fitted this will have a constant (albeit small) current drain on the battery and I believe all the various modules in the car still draw very small amounts of current even when the ignition is off so if you aren't using the car much, this will be a recurring problem for you.

The only other option I can see is that you take the car out a couple of times a week forra decent drive to keep the battery topped up. A 10 minute nip around the block ain't gonna cut it though. It will need to be a decent run-out.

This will only get worse as the weather gets colder as well.

Can't think of anything else to suggest I'm afraid.
I am Homer of Borg. Resistance is..............Hmmmm Doughnuts.
Keyless Ignition, Power Tailgate, Parking Sensors. Detachable Towbar, Corsa E Headlight Switch.

astraowner
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Astra Model: 2016 Astra K 1.6 110HP
Astra Options: Lane assist, dual zone Climate Control.
Astra Colour: Asteroid Grey

Re: Low battery caused by infrequent/short usage

Post by astraowner » Thu Jul 30, 2020 1:20 pm

Would it be possible/sensible to fit a bigger capacity battery (say from a Astra diesel) and if so any recommendations ?

This would not solve your problem, it would only prolong the time between charging and "low battery"

Think of the battery as a large tank. When you start, you drain water from the tank. When you drive the car, the alternator refills the tank.

Your problem is that short trips means that the generator is not filling the tank with as much water as you take out, starting the car, so no matter what you do, you will run out.

Fitting a larger Amperage alternator (If available) will help a bit, but the main problem is that no petrol or diesel car is going to be able to keep itself charged with you driving pattern.

I know this might be a bit of a drastic advice, but with your driving pattern, an electric car would be more sensible.
2016 Astra K 110HP, Opel Eye camera, front and rear parking sensors, dual zone climate control and heated front seats, sight and light pack.

farrinaf
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Nov 01, 2019 3:40 pm

Re: Low battery caused by infrequent/short usage

Post by farrinaf » Thu Jul 30, 2020 2:59 pm

Thanks for the responses and suggestions.

I acquired the Astra October last so the battery "problem" has taken some time to manifest itself.

Reflecting there have been a couple of changes to my driving routine post March COVID lock down et al - namely the loss of a monthly 80 mile round trip on Motorway/A Roads and the addition of a weekly 7 miles round trip to drop shopping off for a vulnerable OAP friend.

The car is garaged so use of a trickle charger (albeit mildly inconvenient) is not an issue - would be nice if there was a way of easily monitoring the battery voltage from inside the car (I have a multi meter so under the bonnet not an issue).

My Mondeo used to have a maintenance program accessible from the instrument binnacle presumably for the benefit of a main dealer which showed various technical information/parameters.

Now I am aware of the battery issue I can monitor its state - I think it a good sign that it took from March to July for voltage to become an issue which suggests that drain is slow/gradual.

ajh
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:13 am

Re: Low battery caused by infrequent/short usage

Post by ajh » Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:56 pm

I too have hardly used the car since March so In the early lockdown period, I let it idle for about 20 mins in the driveway twice a week. Then when restrictions were lifted a bit more, I took it out for a little run about 5 miles on the dual carriageway and local roads once a week and I’ve had no problems whatsoever and that’s over a period now of about 4 months.

MrSM82
Posts: 203
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Astra Model: 1.4T 150 SRi Nav (Auto)
Astra Colour: Cosmic Grey

Re: Low battery caused by infrequent/short usage

Post by MrSM82 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:00 pm

Take it for a run above 50mph for about half an hour once a week, that's what I've been doing since lockdown. Had it serviced last week and was going to replace the battery but garage called saying they tested it and it was still showing as 'good' so didn't need replacing.

Bogbody
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Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2018 6:57 pm

Re: Low battery caused by infrequent/short usage

Post by Bogbody » Sat Aug 01, 2020 7:53 am

If you have mains power available fit a maintenance charger. I used a spare motorbike charger, fitted a battery lead to my Astra (4 weeks furlogh) and my wifes Fiesta (it was not used from March to May).
Both cars were then charged alternativly, week on/week off. Both were then fine.
The Fiesta would complain of "low battery) after 7 to 10 days of no charging, Astra would go a bit longer.
Search on here, there are posts and pictures. The bike charger, an Oxford one, was about £40.

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