In the list of things that invoke caravanning paranoia in the uninitiated traveller, a dead battery is pretty close to the top. And not without reason; even seasoned travellers find a dead battery an unwanted hassle.
The impact of your caravan on your car’s battery
Car batteries are designed to comfortably handle the demands of a running car, including creature comforts such as air conditioning and so on. When you hitch a caravan to your car, however, you’re adding a significant amount of power demand, thanks to all the extra weight from the appliances and gadgets that your caravan is equipped with. While the extra weight is something that most towing vehicles will be able to handle majority of the time, you may find yourself on a hot day, at the most inconvenient time having issues. This is why it's important to pay close attention to your vehicles towing restrictions and your caravans weight guidelines.
But let’s say your battery does die while you’re on the road
First things first, you don’t have to panic. Proceed to any of the following options, depending on what is available to you.
- Jump start the car’s battery
This will require another (functioning) car. Also, go for this only if you, and the other car’s driver, have some experience jump starting cars, and can identify all the battery terminals correctly. Also, you would need to have good quality jumper cables. Park the two cars close to each other, and connect one positive (red) end of the jumper cable to the dead battery’s positive terminal, and the nearest negative (black) end to its negative terminal. Then connect the other ends to the corresponding terminals on the functioning battery. Now start the functioning car and let the battery run for at least a minute. Next, attempt to start your car. Typically, unless something is wrong with your battery, a couple of attempts should get it running. Otherwise, your battery probably needs to be replaced.
- Contact your roadside service provider
If your vehicle insurance covers assistance during emergencies, you can get in touch with your road service provider and have your car (and caravan, if applicable) towed to the nearest service station. Road service providers can also reach you with replacement batteries, or top up your existing battery. Read the terms of your insurance carefully before you leave, so you know exactly what to do in the face of a dead battery.
- Hire a tow truck
A tow truck will take your car to the nearest service station, where you can avail of options such as battery recharge or even replacement. For this, you would need to be within reach of a town or station, where a tow truck service can find you easily.
Remember, the above measures are for emergencies alone. If your car’s battery keeps dying when you’re on the road, chances are that there’s a leak somewhere, or that something else needs to be looked into. In which case, you should have your car examined closely and make sure it’s safe and in working order for your next caravanning holiday.