When Should I Replace My Car Battery?
When your vehicle refuses to start, it could be for many reasons. It could be a bad alternator, starter, battery, or anything else. You’ll also hear a click, that is if you’re lucky. In the case of a bad battery, sometimes, it is so dead you won’t even get the click.
Batteries used to last five to six years. But because the newer vehicles have over 200 electronic control units, they might last three or four years.
Even when you’re parked, there is a slight drain on the battery from the vehicle’s security system. Short trips also contribute to the faster degradation of the battery’s life.
Here are possible signs you have a bad battery that’s due for a replacement:
Struggles with Starting
One of the most noticeable signs of a dying car battery is difficulty starting your vehicle. If you turn the key or press the ignition button and your engine cranks slowly or doesn’t start at all, it could indicate a weak battery. This occurs because the battery lacks sufficient power to engage the starter motor, which is responsible for initiating the combustion process.
Battery Warning Light
Modern vehicles are equipped with a battery warning light on the dashboard. When you start your car, the battery warning light should briefly illuminate and turn off.
However, if the light remains lit or starts flashing while driving, it could indicate a problem with the battery or the charging system. This warning light serves as an important early indication that your car’s battery may be dying and requires attention.
Loss of Power to the Vehicle’s Electronics
A weak or dying battery can lead to a loss of power to the various electrical components in your vehicle. You may notice that the headlights appear dimmer than usual, or the interior lights flicker or fail to function properly. Additionally, the power windows, radio, and other electronic systems may exhibit sluggish or erratic behavior.
These signs suggest that your battery is struggling to supply enough power to meet the demands of your vehicle’s electrical system.
Corrosion on the Battery Terminals
If you see corrosion on the battery terminals, you might have a problem with a dead battery. Sometimes, you can clean the terminals, and the battery will be fine.
However, the corrosion, which is from the battery acid, can eat through the terminals and even the battery cables running to the ground and the starter. If that is the case, you’ll have to replace the battery and the cables.
Not Enough Voltage Reading
If you suspect your car battery is dying, you can perform a simple test using a multimeter or a battery tester. A fully charged battery should read around 12.6 volts. If the reading is significantly lower, it indicates a weak or dead battery that may need to be replaced.
The battery may show plenty of voltage, but if the amperage isn’t there, it won’t hold a charge or start the vehicle. If your voltmeter tells you the battery is fine, you can do a “down and dirty” trick to check for amperage.
Have someone try to start the vehicle while you watch the voltmeter. If the voltage drops below 10 while attempting to start the vehicle or below 12 while running, the battery most likely doesn’t have amperage and won’t hold a charge.
Have Battery or Another Auto Electrical Problem? Contact Little Wolf Automotive in Antigo, WI
A dead car battery can be an inconvenience that catches us off guard. Understanding the signs of a dying battery can help prevent unexpected breakdowns and ensure you’re prepared. Unfortunately, most people don’t think about the battery until their vehicle won’t start.