Have you ever gotten into your car, eager to drive out, only to discover that the battery is dead? Or probably in your case, the car refuses to start after stopping abruptly while on that road trip? When you overlook prior signs that it might be time to replace your car battery, problems like this are bound to arise.
Some indicators that you need a new car battery include the dimming of headlights and battery warning lights. Therefore, you must pay close observation to how the car responds whenever your engine starts.
Here we’ll review some telltale signs of a dying battery and other relevant information concerning battery life.
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10 Common Signs That a Car Needs a New Battery
There are several indicators that your car battery may require replacement. Here are a few warning signs you must be on the lookout for:
1. Difficulty Starting the Engine
The battery provides the electrical energy needed to turn on the engine; however, when the battery is weak or failing, it cannot supply sufficient power to the starter motor, which does the actual turning. The engine won’t start in this situation because the starter motor can’t rotate it quickly enough.
You may also find it difficult to start the engine if the battery does not retain enough charge to activate the starter motor and other electrical components while the engine operates.
2. Slow Engine Crank
When the engine cranks slowly, the battery may not be able to provide the starter motor enough power to turn the engine on. In addition, low battery voltage, which results from a weak or dying battery, contributes to a slow engine crank.
Put another way, it may indicate a weak battery if the engine starts more slowly than usual or makes a clicking sound when you turn the key.
3. Frequent Jumpstarts
Your car battery is rapidly wearing out if you need to jumpstart it frequently. You should have the battery tested to determine if it needs replacing. Additionally, if the battery is more than three years old, consider changing it, regardless of how often it needs jump-starting.
4. Dim Lights
Dim inner or external light is an obvious sign that your car needs a new battery. When the battery is bad or deteriorating, it may not have sufficient energy to properly power the lights, resulting in lower-than-usual brightness.
5. Battery Warning Light
When the battery warning light on the dashboard flashes, the charging system is malfunctioning. In addition, the alternator, which supplies power to the battery while the engine is running, can malfunction, causing the warning light to come on.
6. Swelling or Leakage
You can tell a battery has internal issues if it is swollen or leaking. The shell expands due to swelling when gas emits inside the battery. When an opening or break in the battery’s casing allows the electrolyte inside to escape, leakage happens.
The battery may get overheated, overcharged, or over-discharged as a result of either of these problems, resulting in the battery losing capacity or failing. In addition, you will need a new battery if the battery casing is visibly damaged, bulging, or leaking battery acid.
7. Bad Smell
A good car battery should never release any gas or liquid. However, you’ll notice it if yours does. Hydrogen sulfide is released by overcharged and damaged batteries. It has a strong, pungent odor like rotten eggs. Since this chemical can leak into the cabin, you’ll notice strange acidic fumes while driving.
8. Physical Damage
The most apparent sign that your car battery needs replacing is if you notice any physical damage. Even a healthy battery can be warped and damaged by extreme temperatures, but batteries worn down over time are much more likely to experience this.
9. Corroded Terminals
You have a corrosion problem if the metallic parts of your battery have an ashy residue on them. Battery terminals, which are the negative and positive metal connectors on top of the cell, can corrode, causing voltage problems and making it difficult to start your car.
10. Low Voltage
Low voltage indicates that your car’s battery is not retaining charge and may need replacing. You can determine the battery’s voltage using a multimeter. A healthy battery has a reading of 12.4 volts or greater. If your battery reads less than 12.4 volts, it is failing and needs replacing.
What Are the Factors That Affect Car Battery Life?
When your battery is exposed to certain conditions, its lifespan is affected. Some of these conditions include:
Extremely hot or chilly temperature impacts a battery’s performance and lifespan. Cold temperature delays the chemical reactions within the battery, decreasing its power output, while hot temperature might cause the fluid within the battery to evaporate.
A battery’s lifespan decreases due to rapid battery depletion from continuous or frequent use of electrical components when the engine isn’t running. An often-drained battery will only last for a short time, unlike one that is rarely used. The battery’s life expectancy will decrease the more it drains.
Furthermore, if the battery drains and recharges regularly, it may decrease its total capacity, making it less effective over time.
A battery’s capacity to hold a charge gradually declines with time, making it less effective at powering the car’s electrical systems than when it was new. Keep in mind that your car battery will eventually degrade to the point where it cannot retain a charge at all and will need replacement.
4. Charge Level
A battery’s lifespan may reduce if it constantly undercharges or overcharges. Undercharging a battery can cause sulfation, which happens when the lead sulfate deposits on the battery’s plates enlarge and harden. As a result, the battery’s capacity may decrease, and its lifespan may be affected.
On the other hand, a battery that overcharges may suffer damage to its internal parts, including the lead plates, which automatically reduces its lifespan.
The lead plates, separators, and electrolytes located inside the battery may damage if subjected to vibrations on a regular basis. Damages may include lead plates breaking, cracking, or becoming loose, leading to leakage of electrolytes. When this happens, the battery’s lifespan shortens.
Proper maintenance, such as keeping the terminals clean and the electrolyte levels topped up, can help prolong the life of a car battery. Neglecting regular maintenance can lead to a shorter battery lifespan and cause other problems with the vehicle’s electrical system.
7. Quality of the Battery
A low-quality or fake battery will not retain a charge or function as effectively as a good one, resulting in a reduced lifespan. You should note that batteries with low-quality ratings are prone to potentially hazardous circumstances.
How often a car battery charges and discharges can vary depending on driving habits and usage patterns, which affect the battery’s lifespan. For instance, if you regularly travel short distances, your battery may not have sufficient time to recharge between trips, and this can result in a reduced lifespan.
High humidity can speed up the corrosion of the battery terminals, reducing their lifespan and affecting battery performance. Similarly, less dense air at higher altitudes can impact the operation of the battery. High altitudes could make the battery’s ability to maintain a charge less effective.
1. What to Consider When Getting a New Car Battery
Here are a few things to consider when opting for a new battery.
Ensure the battery you buy is the exact size and type for your car’s make and model. Before purchasing a new battery, we advise you to examine the old one to ensure it needs to be changed. Ensure you select a battery with a CCA value suitable for the weather in your region.
Choose a battery with a good RC rating. If the alternator ceases to function, a battery with a high RC rating will power your car’s electrical systems.
If a battery has a warranty, make sure it will cover any potential flaws or problems. Be sure to get your battery from a reliable company with positive customer feedback. You can also get a fair deal by comparing prices offered by various manufacturers and merchants.
2. What is The Average Lifespan of a New Car Battery?
A new car battery typically lasts anywhere from three to five years, though this can vary. Depending on the circumstances and usage, it may be shorter or longer. It’s vital to remember that a battery’s lifespan varies depending on its type, as some batteries have a longer lifespan compared to others.
For instance, sealed maintenance-free batteries, frequently used in most current cars, typically have a longer lifespan than conventional flooded batteries.
You should plan for a replacement as soon as you recognize the warning indications that your car battery is failing. If not, you might be shocked a few months down the road when your car won’t start. You may avoid having a dead car battery by being on the lookout for warning signals.