You probably already know that your car has a battery and that, without it, the car won’t run. But do you know anything more than that? Do you know how to tell when it’s about to die? We’ve got you covered.
If you’ve got a wet-cell battery, which is the typical battery in most cars, this information is for you. Hybrid vehicles or cars with special dry-cell batteries are different and this article won’t apply. You can tell a wet-cell battery by its look: a plastic cube with two terminals located on either the top or side. Inside, the cube contains sulfuric acid and lead.
Here are five indications that your battery is about to die or is already dead:
- The car won’t start. This may seem obvious, but we have to mention it. If the engine cranks and turns over but the car won’t start, it’s possibly related to the battery. While it’s possible the issue is with your starter, but if the engine is even a few volts weaker than necessary, the car just won’t start. A battery test may say that the battery is still working, but sometimes it’s just not working hard enough.
- Nothing happens at all. If you turn the key and nothing happens, the battery is probably dead. Another tell-tale sign is that your lights won’t come on either. This can often happen when the car is left on in some way (the door isn’t closed and the lights are on all night, for example). Hopefully it’s a simple issue of a loose connection, but you may need to replace the whole battery. Also, this can be a sign your alternator is dead, too.
- You’ve already jumped it. Sometimes you’ll jump start a car, let it run a bit, and the alternator will do the work of recharging your battery. Then things will go back to normal and you’ll find you can drive with no issue. But if you find yourself having to jump start the car frequently, there’s going to come a point when the battery has just had it. No amount of jumping is going to save it! Even if it’s not old, consider replacing it as repeated jumping can lead to issues with the alternator and the starter on top of a new battery.
If your battery is several years old and you’ve been noticing trouble, it’s probably time to change the battery. Getting stuck out on the road somewhere with a car that won’t start is no fun and can really end up being a hassle. Having your battery’s power evaluated periodically can give you some indication of how much life it’s got left. Don’t hesitate to check with a trusted mechanic to find out more!