The Chevrolet Cruze is one of the more popular models offered by Chevy today, but it’s not without its problems. A common issue is seeing the ‘Service Battery Charging System’ light turns on. It’s a warning light that can startle new Chevy owners.
Before you assume that this will involve a costly mechanic trip, it may be time to see what this battery light actually means. Let’s talk about what this could mean and whether you can troubleshoot it yourself.
Before We Begin
It’s important to know that a ‘Service Battery Charging System‘ light is one of those symptoms that you may not be able to fix yourself. This is not an oil change light. This is a little amber light that says one of many components may need fixing.
If you notice your “check charging system light” on, then you may need to take a look at a cheap (but good) mechanic. The only thing this really tells you is that there is something going on with the flow of electrical power in your car.
- OBDII/Car code reader
- Car battery
- Wire brush
- Drive belt
- A volt reader
- A mechanic’s number
If you have gone to mechanic school, you may already be equipped and educated enough to fix some of the issues that can spark this light on your Chevy Cruze. Otherwise, you just need to be ready to call a local garage and ask technicians for help.
Getting this warning light would make most of us feel a little sick to our stomachs. This is how you can try to do a little diagnosis before you head to the shop…and possibly avoid a trip to a mechanic’s at all.
1. If you can, get to a shop and get a free diagnostic read.
Your car is powered by computers, and Chevrolet has a computer program that helps diagnose issues with your cards. It’s called a “car code reader” or an “OBDII” and if you go to a place like Pep Boys, you can usually get a free diagnosis read on your car.
The OBDII will give you a code. That code can tell you what the computer thinks it could be. It may say your ignition system is faulty, or that your drive belt needs realignment. Or, it may even say you need computer help.
2. Check the battery to see if you can spot an issue.
If you are somewhat mechanically inclined, you may be able to see if your drive belt is looking raggedy or if it needs to be put back on track. If not, don’t panic. You might still be able to see some symptoms that can lead to this light going on…
- Check for corrosion around the battery. This suggests that you might have battery issues. If this is the case, remove cables from the battery so that it’s no longer live. Cleaning around the contact area with a wire brush and then reconnecting the cables can help.
- Check to see if there are cracks or damage near the battery terminals. If you notice a cracked battery, it’s time to get a new battery. That is what could be causing your poor battery connection.
- Think if your car recently needed a jump start. This is a sign that your Cruze may be close to needing a battery replacement because your battery is just old.
- Use a multimeter to see if your battery grounding needs to be cleaned. Tap the negative end of the meter to the negative end of the battery, and the positive end to the metal part of your engine. Your reading should be 0 ohms. If it’s not, clean the ground wire of rust and make sure there’s no fraying.
3. Get a reading on your alternator
Use a multimeter to find out your battery’s voltage when the car is turned on along with all the accessories. If it dips below 12 volts, then your alternator needs replacement. If it drops below 13.5 volts, then there’s a problem with the charge you’re getting from it.
4. Listen for a slipping belt
If your serpentine belt slips, you will have a hard time getting electrical energy to the alternator. You’ll also HEAR the belt slipping. It sounds like a loud squealing screech. If you hear this, it’s time to get to an auto repair shop.
A slipping belt is a component that can harm a lot more than just an alternator. The longer you ignore it, the more damage it can do.
5. Check for signs of frayed wires
Do you have a rodent problem in your home or yard? If so, you might end up seeing damage to wires in your system. If you notice bits of fur in your engine or see gnaw marks on wiring, you may have a mouse or two choosing to eat up your car.
This is a good time to book an appointment with a mechanic shop so that you can get all the bad wires replaced. You may also need to talk to an exterminator about reducing the rodent population. (Might we suggest some cats?)
6. Reset the warning light
You can also just reset the warning light by disconnecting the battery and honking the horn. Keep the car lights on until all the electricity has been drained out. Then, reconnect the battery. The warning light should be gone.
PRO TIP – You still need to fix the problem that sparked the light, otherwise it will continue to re-light. Ignoring a warning sign like this will only lead to worse repairs further down the road.
Doing your own check can be rough but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do a good job of it. These tips can also help you save money.
- If you are unsure of how to do any step in particular or can’t deduce the issue, call a mechanic. There is nothing wrong with getting professional help for the light issue. Even though the Chevy Cruze is a fairly fix-friendly car, there are some things you may have to hire a mechanic to fix.
- If you have a rodent problem, fixing your car alone is not enough. You may have to find a way to repel mice and rats from your car. Otherwise, the damage will just keep coming back.
- Check the warranty of your battery if you notice damage like cracks or rust. Your car’s battery most likely comes with a three year, 36,000-mile warranty. If you had it for less than three years, you can probably get your battery replaced for free!
- Sometimes, it’s the car’s CPU glitching out. While rare, there is a slim chance that nothing is wrong with the mechanical workings of your car. Sometimes, your car’s computer can glitch out and have a moment where it detects something that isn’t there. A reset will fix this.
- Research how to dispose of dead batteries in your state. You can get fined if you dispose of a dead car battery the wrong way. Many auto supply shops will happily take the battery for you if you need to dispose of it quickly.
- This is not a warning light that you can ignore for very long. The moment you see that light flicker on is the moment that you should start looking into it. It’s not very safe to keep driving as this light means you may end up stranded on the side of the road. Ignoring it can also increase repair costs.
- Once you reset the light, you may need to drive for a couple of minutes to get it to turn off. Sometimes, the light can end up staying on for a short period of time before you get the computer to register that the problem is fixed.
- You can prevent this light from turning on by keeping the inside of your car’s motor clean. Wiping away grit, corrosion, and similar schmutz can help keep the flow of electric current and keep your car’s engine area in better working order.
Seeing that “Check Battery Charging System” light can be a major upset to your daily routine, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of your car’s life. Being proactive when it comes to car care can help you make a huge difference in the lifespan of your Chevy Cruze.
At the end of the day, the best thing you can do when you see this light flicker on is address it. Ideally, you will do this at a mechanic shop. However, if you want to take the time to give your own troubleshooting a try, you can always do it. It may even save you some money.