The worst thing about a dead car battery is that it happens when you least expect it. You may be going somewhere and try to start your car but find that the engine won’t turn over. The battery is dead. It’s a problem that most people will face in their lives. But there are a few signs you can look out for to avoid this situation.
Slow Engine Start
The first sign you need to change your battery can be noticed when you try to start your car. You probably know what your car sounds like when you start it. Just listen when you turn the key. A good battery will output 12V of direct current electricity. As a battery dies, it will output less voltage which turns the starter slower. If you notice that the starter sounds different or slower than normal, it may be time to replace the battery.
Corroded Battery Terminals
Pop your hood and inspect your battery terminals. Newer cars may have a plastic cover that you’ll need to remove. Look at the positive and negative terminals to see if there are any signs of corrosion. Corrosion is caused by hydrogen sulfide from the sulfuric acid in the battery. When the gas escapes and meets the atmosphere, it can corrode the terminals.
Clean the terminals by removing the cables and using a battery cleaning chemical. This may help with any shorting issues. Corroded terminals may also indicate additional power system issues. It may be time to replace the battery if your terminals are corroded.
Battery Dies Quickly
Most car batteries will have enough stored energy to run accessories like the radio and lights without the engine running for a few hours. But if you notice that you can’t start your car after listening to the radio for 30 minutes on battery, you may need to replace the battery. It has reached the end of its life hence can no longer store as much energy as before.
Check Engine Light
The best indicator of a bad battery will be revealed by your engine light. Your car has a system called an ECU. When it senses low voltage from the battery, it will send a signal that turns on the battery indicator light. Replace your battery as soon as possible if you see this light on.
If a battery is overcharged, it will begin to release hydrogen sulfide. This gas can build up and cause the battery case to swell. An overcharged battery usually indicates a problem with a voltage regulator or another issue. If your battery is swollen, this can be very dangerous. The battery needs to be replaced immediately and safely.
Most lead-acid car batteries will last 3 or more years depending on the environment and temperature. Discharges below 50% can also affect the lifespan of a battery. Lead-acid batteries lose capacity as they age. Hot temperatures can also greatly affect lifespan and capacity. Check to see when your battery was replaced last. If it’s been more than 3 years, you may want to replace it.
The best way to avoid a dead battery when you least expect it is to learn the signs of an ageing battery. Of course, you’ll know you have a dead battery if the car won’t start. But if you can replace the battery before it reaches the end of its life, you may be able to avoid problems with your car.
About the Author
Jason is an automobile and classic car lover. He loves to restore early Ford V8’s yet appreciates the comforts of modern vehicles. Jason is the chief editor at torqueboss.com