Cars aren’t as complicated as they seem, you just need to know the warning signs to figure out which problem needs solving. In the case of a bad battery, there are quite a few warning signs that may overlap with other car issue indicators.
Car batteries are, to say the least, the most simple component of your car. They also tend to cause a lot of problems when they start to die on you. Luckily, we’ve come up with a list of ten warning signs that you’ve got a dying or bad battery.
Keep reading to find out more.
The Warning Signs of a Bad Battery
Maybe your car won’t start. Or the radio completely shuts down in the middle of your favorite song. Or, maybe something just seems off. A dying or bad battery can cause a lot of these kinds of issues, so it’s important to pay attention to the warning signs.
In the event that you do need to have your battery replaced, make sure you know how to dispose car batteries, or at least take it to an auto shop that recycles them. After all, they are a box of reactive chemicals.
Here are the ten warning signs that you’ve got a bad battery:
1. The Slow Crank
Your car’s engine works off of the battery’s amps each time you start your car. If you find that your engine is slow to crank, it’s a telltale sign that the battery is dying.
It may just need a recharge, but you’ll want to have it tested as soon as you notice these symptoms just to be sure.
2. A Rapid Clicking Sound
If your car won’t crank at all, but you hear a rapid clicking sound when you turn the key, it’s a sign that there isn’t enough power available to start the engine. Sometimes when this happens, if you give it a rest you’ll be able to start your car later—of course, it’s all downhill from there.
At this point, you basically have a dead car battery.
3. Dim Headlights
We don’t always pay close attention to our headlights unless one is out. However, it pays to pay attention because lack-luster headlights are an early warning sign that your car battery is on its way out.
If you notice that your headlights aren’t as bright as they usually are, get your battery checked. You should also get into the habit of taking a look at them every so often.
4. Electrical Component Issues
Most cars have electrical components such as the windows, the door locks, the radio, power seats, lights on the dashboard, windshield wipers, and the headlights. All of these things are powered by your car’s battery. So, if you notice that one of these components is off or not working—for example, your radio just shuts off—it can only mean that your battery is losing power.
5. Your Dashboard is Illuminated
Almost all cars have a battery warning light located on the dashboard. It’s easy to see because it’s in the shape on a car battery. It becomes illuminated when the battery is not being charged properly or when there’s another internal problem such as the alternator or another electrical component under the hood.
Just like your check engine light, when your battery light comes on, you’ll want to have your battery and battery-related parts checked out.
6. You Notice a Swollen Battery Case
Even if you don’t fancy yourself a mechanic, it’s still a good idea to check under the hood from time to time. When you do, if you notice that the battery case has begun to swell at its sides, you’ll need a replacement.
Of course, this is something you can check for yourself if you notice any of the above symptoms. This kind of damage usually happens due to exposure to extreme temperatures. This means that your battery can either freeze, causing it to discharge, or overheat, causing it to swell.
7. Loose or Dirty Battery Terminals
There’s a chance that your battery isn’t actually dying, it’s just that your battery terminals are loose or dirty. This is another thing you can check on yourself. If the terminals are loose, you can tighten them with a ratchet set.
If they’re dirty, you can quickly scrub them with a wire brush. However, dirty terminals can be a sign of a leaky battery. So, take note of how much corrosion you see on the terminals. If there’s more than the usual amount, it may be a sign of a leak.
If the bad battery symptoms haven’t gone away after these measures, then you’ll have to get it tested. In addition, you can also check the fluid levels, which are located on the transparent part of the battery casing. If the fluid level is below the lead plates, you’ll want to bring your battery in.
8. You Have to Hit the Gas to Start Your Car
Having to press on the gas pedal while the engine is cranking to get it started could be a sign of several different issues. A bad battery could be one of those issues. But for this warning sign, in particular, you’ll need a mechanic to sift through all possible diagnostics.
9. Your Car Is Backfiring
A dying car battery can cause off beat sparks which can lead to fuel accumulation in the engine cylinders. When another spark finally comes along, it ignites more fuel than usual, causing increased force—hence the backfiring.
This could be a warning sign for other issues as well, such as dirty spark plugs or worse.
10. Your Battery Is Just Old
Car batteries are only designed to last for about four to five years. Their lifespan is affected by several factors, including temperature and stop-and-go driving. It’s a good idea to get your battery tested at four years. Their date of manufacture should be labeled on the battery case itself.
Take Care of Your Car Battery
You may have a bad battery or another problem with your car. In the event that your car battery keeps dying, regardless of having it checked and charged, there may be an issue with the alternator or the starter. If this is the case, make sure you bring your car to a trusted mechanic to have these parts inspected.
For more interesting articles on cars and car parts, check out the rest of our blog.