With the winter weather firmly setting in now we’re in December, the well documented battery drain issue on Newage Impreza’s (seriously, look it up) is unfortunately becoming apparent on my car.

The first tell-tale sign is that my alarm siren wails for a brief moment upon turning the key first thing in the morning – much to the annoyance of my neighbours. After a cold day, it sometimes even chirps at me no more than 7 hours later when I begin my journey home. I believe this is the alarm warning me of a sharp voltage drop from the starter motor on the battery.

My car has now basically become an audible temperature gauge for the neighbourhood.

The second sign is a very, very slight struggle from the starter motor. Although I’m lucky enough that my car starts without fault a split second after the starter motor cranks, I can tell there’s a slight hesitation. This becomes more apparent after, say, a cold weekend without any use – the hesitation on the following Monday morning is clear.

What causes the battery drain that leads to these issues?

It’s been speculated online that the chief culprit is in fact the factory-fit RAC Trackstar tracking system fitted to all Newage Impreza STI variants (here in the UK at least). This uses some sort of clever GPS scanning technology to monitor the whereabouts of your vehicle in real time, 24/7 – so you can see how it could cause an issue with the battery.

The Impreza also has what’s called a ‘smart alternator’. This means that unless you’re driving with no electrical input from wipers, lights, heaters, radio etc. then the alternator won’t charge the battery at all. To get around this on ageing batteries, people suggest simply driving around with your sidelights permanently on, or the fans on a low setting, just to maintain a bit of charge for the battery.

As to how this feature is entitled to call itself ‘smart’, I’m baffled.

And of course, cold weather is brutal to the health of your battery. With even colder temperatures fast approaching it’s probably time I consider purchasing a new battery for peace of mind.

For reference, there’s some very useful information on this Scoobynet thread.