Ask the expert: ‘Should my new Land Rover’s battery be going flat?’

Alex Robbins is contributing editor at Telegraph Cars where, as well as responding to readers’ queries, he also contributes reviews of new and used cars, together with articles on buying and selling. 

His knowledge of the used car market informs his many buying guides relating to the best buys in particular sectors, with an emphasis on value for money.  Every week he will answer your questions on buying and selling, as well as solving your car problems, whether consumer or mechanical.

Do you have a motoring dilemma you’d like our expert to solve?  For consumer and used car advice, or car faults, email and include your subscriber number. This week’s question… 

Dear Alex,

My wife drove our 15-month-old Land Rover Discovery Sport  to our nearest supermarket. Switching off the engine, a “Low battery. Restart engine” warning flashed up – and the power tailgate did not open. The dealer charged the battery and carried out a voltage test that showed it to be fine but the technician admitted it was on the “cusp” and would benefit from some long journeys. Having no need for any long journeys, should I be worried that my wife is out and about relying on a dodgy battery? No mention was made when we purchased the car that we had to undertake a long journey every few weeks to keep the battery in good health. Should a larger battery and a more powerful charging system to accommodate low-mileage use have been fitted from the start?

– GT

Dear GT, 

A scout around Land Rover enthusiast internet sites reveals many other people experiencing the same problem with the Discovery Sport, and either being told (or having it implied) by their dealers that they need to undergo some longer journeys to keep the battery charged. 

This leads me to believe that you are not alone in this issue and, therefore, that either the charging system or the battery being fitted as standard to the Discovery Sport (or certain models thereof) is not capable of keeping the battery charged if it’s only used for shorter journeys. 

I put this to Land Rover, and received this statement from a spokesperson in response: “Electrical power demands on modern vehicles have increased significantly over time with the addition of the latest safety systems, efficiency systems such as start/stop, security and luxury comforts. 

“As with many facets of owning and running a vehicle, battery management should be considered. Like many manufacturers, Land Rover products feature warning systems to prevent complete depletion of the battery and guide the user to take action. Land Rover also provides guidance in the user handbook. 

“If any customer has any concerns or questions, then we welcome them to contact our customer services team.”

This seemed to me to suggest that this is a characteristic of the car, rather than a fault, and I also felt it put the onus on the driver to maintain the battery well. So I responded by asking, firstly, if there was a minimum monthly mileage a Discovery Sport owner should be doing and, if so, what that figure would be. I also asked why dealers weren’t making buyers aware of this necessity at point of purchase. 

At the time of writing, I have waited four weeks for a response (and sent two further emails to follow up), but have not yet received one.

In the short term, therefore, all I can suggest is that you invest in a mains or solar trickle charger to keep your Discovery Sport’s battery topped up – this is a workaround being suggested by several owners experiencing this problem, and they say it does the job. Choose one with a cigarette lighter adaptor for ease of use – that way you don’t have to keep going under the bonnet and connecting crocodile clips all the time. 

And in the long term, I suggest avoiding buying a Land Rover Discovery Sport if you rarely do longer journeys; even Land Rover’s own dealers seem to admit a question mark remains over the model’s ability to keep its own battery topped up in such circumstances.

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