• Drivers risk draining their battery due to excessive use of In-Car-Entertainment and devices

Drivers’ increasing use of luxury in-car devices could put them at risk of being stranded this winter due to the additional strain placed on cars’ batteries.  New research for Kwik Fit reveals that more than 16 million (45%) drivers have at least one factory fitted luxury device in their car.

The most commonly installed devices in a car are climate control (26%, 9.2 million), heated wing-mirrors (20%, 7 million) and heated seats (11%, 4 million), which can all be a major drain on the battery.

However, on top of these in-built features, 55% of drivers plug in at least one additional luxury item, such as music devices, DVD players, sat-navs or phone and laptop chargers.  2.1 million (6%) of drivers have more than three luxury devices installed in their car. Some owners, however, have taken their love for in-car extras to the extreme with 430,000 drivers running between four and five luxury devices. Shockingly, 140,000 motorists run more than ten.

The arrival of winter brings multiple demands on a car’s battery.  In colder temperatures batteries lose performance, and this coincides with the time when drivers place a greater burden on them through using lights, climate control, heated seats and screen de-misters.

Another drain on the battery is the number of short trips drivers make, as the biggest impact is at the beginning of a journey, and short travel times do not give the battery opportunity to recharge.  Indeed, previous research by Kwik Fit revealed that every week, UK motorists make 52 million trips of under two miles.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, commented on the increasing number of battery draining devices and technology on the market. “Often people don’t realise how much of an effect the newer technologies such as climate control, heated seats and in car entertainment can have on a battery.  Sometimes the latest luxury devices and gadgets that are designed to make our lives more comfortable can actually do the opposite, by seriously shortening the life of even a new battery and leaving us stuck with a car that won’t start.”

Most common factory fitted luxury devices

Device Proportion of motorists with this device fitted in their car
Climate control 26%
Heated wing-mirrors 20%
Heated seats 11%
Built in sat nav 9%
Built in phone charger 6%
Upgraded music system 6%
Extra-bright halogen bulbs 5%
Convertible roof 3%
Video screens 1%
Fridge 0.5%

Roger Griggs, says: “It’s vital to remember that during the winter months, the battery has to work harder and that even switching basic heating and headlights on can add to the struggle. At Kwik Fit, we always see an increase in customers with battery problems when the temperature drops, and it is often the case that this has come as a surprise to the motorist.

“The best thing to ensure the battery is not being too strained is to keep unnecessary devices turned off,  especially when the lights and heating are also in action. Motorists who feel their battery may be weak and not up to the task this winter can come in and receive a free health check at any of the 670 Kwik Fit centres across the country.”