Five Signs Your Car Battery Is Dead (or About to Die)

Five Signs Your Car Battery Is Dead (or About to Die)
twist Wench has been in beloved with automotive mechanics for decades. She loves sharing advice with fellow DIY mechs and curious cats .Learn the signs that your car battery is dead or dying. Learn the signs that your cable car battery is all in or dying. The typical barrage, in vehicles made in 1952 and late, is a “ wet-cell ” battery—a plastic cube containing sulphuric acid and lead, with two terminals coming out of the top or the side. This short scout should be dependable unless you have an aftermarket barrage with special needs, such as a dry-cell battery, or a hybrid like a Prius.

In my years as a automobile mechanic, one matter I have learned is that an erstwhile battery or loose battery cables can cause truly big problems that make it appear that something complicated is wrong with your vehicle. even experienced mechanics and DIYers are sometimes stumped by a simple problem with a battery past its prime until they realize they ‘ve ruled out all other potential problems ( and then some ). That ‘s one of those “ five hundred ’ ohio ! ” moments when you realize you could have saved yourself an hour of diagnostic and compensate time fair by checking the battery and its cables. Your vehicle ’ s battery is like its heart : Without it, your vehicle does n’t have the power to start, move, or do anything else. So it ‘s crucial to understand at least a little morsel about your battery and to know the most common signs that it needs to be replaced .

Signs Your Car Battery’s Dead or About to Die

  1. Your engine cranks, but it doesn’t start.
  2. Your engine doesn’t crank or start, and the lights don’t come on!
  3. One day it starts fine, then the next day it won’t start at all.
  4. Cold cranking is hard work.
  5. You’ve jumped it a lot already.

Each of these scenarios will be thoroughly discussed below .

1. Engine Cranks, but Doesn’t Start

If your engine cranks or turns over when you turn the key, but it wo n’t start, I say the most probably perpetrator is your battery. It might be your starter, it might be something else, but 94 % of the time, it ‘s truly your barrage, even if the car is cranking fairly vigorously. even if an ammeter ( current-measuring device ) says the battery is beneficial, it can still be a few volts shy of what your fomite needs to run efficiently. When you find yourself with a car that wo n’t crank hard enough to start, you ‘ll want to use jumper cables or a jump-starter box to get it running again. once your car is running again, disconnect the cable, then let your engine ply for 30 minutes so that your alternator can charge up your battery again. After that half-hour, when you are stopped at home plate or in a safe rate, do a little quiz. After you turn the locomotive off, wait at least a hour, then start it again. Wait another infinitesimal and start it another time or two to make certain that you wo n’t be stranded at the boast station or wherever you go next. Note: At this sharpen, most batteries will have charged themselves up from the carry of the alternator and be finely for a day or two. Do not take that time for granted. Use it to hunt down a new barrage and replace the old one before you end up stuck in the in-between of nowhere .

2. No Crank, No Start, No Lights

This position is reasonably straightforward to diagnose, and it ‘s an even stronger indication that your barrage is at demerit. Your battery powers all the accessories and lights in your cable car, specially when the alternator is not running. so, if your car just seems to be wholly null of all signs of life, then your barrage is the first thing you should be looking at. And be aware that in this position, where your fomite does n’t even have the juice to work the lights or turn over the engine, it could be a combination problem involving your alternator as well. If the car won ’ thymine crackpot or start but the headlights do work, that may indicate a more interest problem, possibly the starter or a mechanical problem in the engine .

3. One Day It Starts Fine, the Next Day It Won’t

If start is an intermittent problem for you, it ‘s a sign that either your barrage terminals are loose, broken, corroded, or calcified or that you have a parasitic draw ( your might is being drained by some appliance that ‘s on when it ‘s supposed to be off, or by some wire that ’ s touching something it shouldn ’ t ) .

  • Check out the battery cables first, as they are usually the prime suspect and are easier to check yourself.
  • Make sure the cables fit firmly and securely on the battery posts. There should be zero play in them. You shouldn’t be able to wiggle them even an inch when they are tight. Also, make sure that the cables going to the terminals are not frayed or falling apart; if they are, replace them as soon as possible.

In this video, Eric the Car Guy shows you loose and corrode cables, and how they can cause a fell in might to the starter. parasitic draw from sources other than the battery cables are reasonably common. Suspect a epenthetic draw if the car starts right up if you drive it respective days in a row, but then fails to start if you let it sit for a day. To investigate epenthetic draw issues, see your favorite automobile mechanic, or attend at the last section of this article, and get ready to have fun with an ammeter or voltmeter, as these are the tools you ‘ll need to check your alternator, accessary lights, fuses, radio, alarm clock, and all other components that might be draining your battery in secret .

4. Cold Cranking Is Hard Work

If you look at your battery, somewhere on it you should find a label stating a numeral for “ Cold Cranking Amps. ” Those amps are responsible for giving your engine enough energy to get started the first time of the sidereal day, by and large referred to as “ cold zigzag. ” frankincense it ’ s not storm that an early sign that your battery is running out of life—a augury most people miss—is that you are regularly putting extra energy into starting the vehicle. You know what I ‘m talking about. You get in your car, you tap the boast pedal, you turn the key a few times, and all you get for the inaugural few minutes is lots of weak rotations of the engine. After you ’ ve all but decided the car is going to make you late for employment, it suddenly starts up and sustains an idle. now, what I mean by “ regularly ” is having to do this more than three times per week. That would be a polarity that your battery is giving notice and getting ready to retire. But, keep in mind that if it ’ south very coldness out, it ’ s reasonably normal for your vehicle to hang back and start alone with difficulty. not merely is flatulence hard to vaporize and oil gooey when it ’ sulfur cold, but batteries put out entirely half their normal ability when the temperature is 0˚F ( and only a third base of their power when it ‘s 32˚F ). so in the cold, you may have to be affected role. But, if your car doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate go back to a authentic “ cold ” crank when the weather warms up, you ’ ll want to get a modern battery within the next three months. One more possibility worth noting is that your battery was never big adequate for your vehicle in the beginning position. evening a well-seasoned mechanic has gotten the wrong battery for a specific vehicle, causing a wild-goose-chase investigation of a mysterious start problem. Make certain you look up your car on-line or ask in an car parts memory to find out what tied of Cold Cranking Amps ( CCA ) and voltage your car needs to start and run by rights .Learn the most common mistakes people make with their car batteries. Learn the most common mistakes people make with their car batteries .

5. You’ve Jumped It a Lot Already

I have a childlike hard-and-fast govern that I follow when it comes to having to jump your battery. No topic what reason you had to do it—the battery was honest-to-god, or possibly the starter, fuel pump, or alternator were bad, or possibly you left your headlights on or your door ajar all night, or you ran out of gas—the predominate is this :
If you have to jump your vehicle more than three times in a single week, it ‘s time to replace your battery .
even a reasonably new battery can turn into a dud very cursorily if it has been jumped more than three times in a week. Using a jump box or jumper cables is hard on your barrage. They work by figuratively “ shocking ” it back to biography. now, you might think I ‘m crazy about replacing the battery after such a low jump count, but hear me out. One of the most common things I see happening in relation to vehicle battery problems is that the driver or mechanic will assume that because the battery was n’t old, or was n’t the specific perpetrator for the battery draining itself, they don ’ t need to expend clock time or money getting a new one. then, when they try this and that to diagnose the problem, they keep jumping the battery until, finally, the alternator and newcomer go bad, leaving you with a need for a new alternator, starter, and battery. Save yourself the headache and precisely replace the battery if you ‘ve had to jump it more than three times in a week. You wo n’t regret it .

Signs of a Dying Battery

Pre-StartupDuring StartupWhile Driving No lights, guages, dash lights or electrical do on upon turning the key in any steering. Turns over 3 times or more before begin. mildly crude Idle during traffic stops. Battery needs to be jumped every 3–5 days or more. Lights andor Accessories dim with each become over before starting. Radio andor other accessories shut off intermittently. barrage dies within 15–30 mins of sitting with engine off & radio/accessories running.

Tougher time starting after sitting for long periods, specially in cold weather. Accessories belt squeals while driving up hills or while hauling. Starter andor Alternator have died & been replaced already. Accessories belt squeals briefly during or after startup. Lights andor Accessories dim or blink when accelerator is pressed .

How to Jump-Start Your Car Battery in 10 Easy Steps

  1. Park a car with a functioning battery so its front is as close to your car’s front (pointing toward one another). Leave at least 18 inches of space between and never let the cars touch.
  2. For manual transmissions, place the car in neutral. For automatic transmissions, place car in park. Turn off engines, remove keys, and set the parking brake on each car.
  3. Get out your jumper cables. Make sure none of the metal clamps touch one another. Notice that each set of clamps has one red clamp and one black clamp.
  4. Open both car hoods. Locate the batteries and battery terminals. Terminals are usually covered in red or black, with a + or – sign on top. Make sure that you can identify which is positive and which is negative.
  5. Attach the red cable clamp to the positive (+) battery terminal of the dead battery. Make sure there is a solid connection to terminal.
  6. Next, attach the other red cable clamp to the functioning vehicle’s positive (+) battery terminal.
  7. Now, connect the black cable clamp to the working battery’s negative (-) battery terminal.
  8. Do not connect the final black cable clamp to the dead battery. Instead, attach that clamp to an unpainted, metal part of the car, such as a clean nut on the engine block. This will help ensure a safe jump.
  9. Start the functioning car’s engine. Wait a minute or two and try starting the car with the dead battery. Sometimes it helps to rev the functioning car’s engine a bit. Once both cars are started, leave them running for a few minutes.
  10. To disconnect the jumper cables, start with the black cable clamps. Do not let them touch while any part of the cables is still attached to a car.

How Long Does a Battery Last?

  • Batteries normally have a maximum life expectancy of two or three years, even if manufacturers say they will last five years or more. If anyone sells you a “super long life” model, keep your receipt and get a warranty. Especially if you use your battery for a lot of accessories (things other than starting your car) it’s unlikely to last as long as promised.
  • Optimally, you should replace your battery every two and a half years or so—before you have problems.
  • Other things can affect its lifespan, since a battery relies on other parts to do what it does. It needs help from your alternator, your starter, the solenoid, the battery terminals (which need to be clean and free from corrosion), and its own cables (which need to be intact). Though as I argue below, the problem is very often just age, I’ll admit it can be something else.
  • The age of a battery, even if it doesn’t show any obvious signs of being old, can affect your vehicle in negative ways that will slowly add up to a big repair bill. That’s why I recommend replacing it before you have problems with it.
  • Your ordinary battery doesn’t do so well in extremely cold weather, which may be why you have to pump the gas, or turn the key back to prime the fuel pump, or do a little dance to get the truck or car started on chilly mornings.

When Will You Replace Your Battery?
I ‘m glad you ‘ve taken the time to read all the way through this article and have started to consider when replacing your battery. Down below, I have some bonus advice about diagnosing a parasitic draw .

How to Diagnose a Parasitic Draw

Because thus many battery issues are caused by a parasitic pull back that is lento draining it dead, I thought you might like to see some videos that can help you finally kill that parasite !

Method 1: Use a Multimeter

As in the video recording below, the fastest and most efficient direction of finding your epenthetic drawing card is to use a multimeter. tied the most inexperienced diagnostician can do this examination in minutes to find out if you have a draw. Just make certain the vehicle is off, the car ‘s negative battery terminal is disconnected, and the cable car doors are shut and other accessories turned off. Set your multimeter to 10 amps DC, touch the cocksure lead to your abrupt veto battery cable, and touch the ground lead to your negative battery mail. If your meter shows anything above 50 milliamps, you have a parasitic draw. Watch the first video below to find out how to identify the fuse or relay that is eating away your battery, plus some potential quick fixes .

Method 2: Use a Fuse Checker

On a pre-1985 fomite, you can use a small probe called a fuse check to look for draw. It ‘s not a accurate as a multimeter, but will work barely vitamin a well at finding out what is still on when your car is supposed to be off. This method can besides work on newer vehicles if you do n’t have access to a multimeter. To use this method, just make certain that the cable car is off, the door pins are all held down in the “ closed ” position, and your negative battery cable is disconnected .

Best Car Batteries

NameDescriptionAverage Price Odyssey PC680 Battery This battery is celebrated for its excellent efficiency. With a strong and broken construction, this battery has a the ability to tolerate a strong ram careless of the environment. $ 200 adam Power D6500 Battery This battery features a sealed AGM. It is ideal for 3000-4000W cable car audio sound systems. It is a leak-proof battery with no external vents. This invention allows the barrage to fit about factory battery locations without any hazardous leaks. $ 300 VMAX857 AGM Battery With this battery, you can experience excellent functions like heavy duty grids, SLA, and AGM technology, vibration and shock immune. The VMAX857 is besides a non-spillable and non-hazardous battery. $ 150 Optima 34/78 RedTop The RedTop battery is designed to deliver the most energetic 5-second starting explode of all. Its life is doubly that of conventional lead-acid batteries. $ 200 Optima D35 YellowTop Battery This is a minor car battery with excellent performance. This battery is designed to provide deep-cycling capability and excess performance to meet your fomite needs ( if your car has a fortune of extra accessories ). $ 230
Common Questions About Car Batteries

How Many Miles Should a Car Battery Last?

A battery lasts about four years on average, but mileage varies wildly from driver to driver. One thing is for certain, batteries do n’t last everlastingly. There are many different factors that could lead to the demise of your car battery. It ‘s not constantly such a simple thing to diagnose .

Factors That Determine a Car Battery’s Lifespan:

  • Where you live
  • How you drive
  • The condition of your charging system
  • Weather
  • How you use your car’s accessories

When Should I Replace My Car Battery?

After three years, it ‘s normally time to install a successor barrage. On average, after four or five years, most car batteries will be about wholly undependable. In fact, many previous car batteries can present a number of condom issues .

What Is the Normal Charge for a Car Battery?

fully batteries should measure at 12.6 volts or above. however, when the engine is running, this load should measure at 13.7 to 14.7 volts. That said, if you do n’t have a multimeter to tell you the electric potential of your car ‘s battery, then you can do a test of your electrical system. You do this by starting the car and turning on the headlights .

What Percent Should a Car Battery Be at?

car batteries can vary from car to car, depending on the plate of the automobile. That said, on average, automotive lead-acid batteries should be maintained at a 75 % charge level or higher for their best performance .

Does Draining a Car Battery Damage It?

When a car battery has been drained below a department of state of full discharge, all you can do is check the electrolyte and put it on a drip charger. It ‘s besides hard on an alternator when you drain a battery, because they are n’t designed to charge batteries from a state of wide discharge .

I Have a New Battery That Is Fully Charged. Why Can’t I Start My Car?

If your vehicle wo n’t start, it ‘s normally because of a dying or dead battery, free or corrode connection cables, a bad alternator, or due to an issue with the starter. It can be hard to determine if you ‘re dealing with a battery or an alternator trouble .

How Do You Know If It’s the Alternator or the Battery?

The answer to this question varies from site to situation, but I ‘ll address a common one here. If you jump start it and your engine starts running, but the cable car will not start again once you turn it off, then the battery is probable the trouble. While, in this case, the alternator is doing its job of keeping the battery going once it has been jumped, the battery still ca n’t hold a appoint when the alternator is shut off. Again, this is a augury that the battery is the perpetrator .

Where Can I Bring My Old Car Battery?

Battery Recycling is identical important. If you have an old car battery lying about, bring it in to AutoZone or early shop for recycling. Some of these car shops will give you a $ 5 trade menu for turning in your old battery. Remember to check the stores ‘ sites for restrictions and far details .

What Do I Do With My Old Car Battery?

You should take the battery to an car denounce or parts shop. In fact, the most common direction to recycle a car battery is to take it to your local car shop class or car parts store, where car batteries are sold. You must recycle your battery appropriately. Car batteries, both lead-acid batteries and nickel-metal hydride ( NiMH ) batteries, finally wear down and need replacing. however, getting rid of an honest-to-god cable car battery once you get a modern one international relations and security network ’ t a simple as equitable throwing the old one away in the trash. Because of the environmental health consequences, throwing a car barrage in a dumpster could subject you to serious fines or penalties .

How to Recycle a Car Battery

  1. Finding recycling location. Use an online search engine to find locations near you that accept car batteries for recycling.
  2. Confirm that they take car batteries. Call ahead to confirm they accept car batteries before bringing it in.
  3. Secure the battery in your vehicle. Place the battery in your vehicle’s trunk, hatch, or on the floor on a safe, disposable item (just in case of any leakage)
    —use a section of plywood, a heavy plastic lid, or a metal item like a garbage can lid. Make sure the item you choose doesn’t slide around. You’ll want to prevent the heavy battery from damaging your car or other items around it.
  4. Check in with attendant. After arriving at the battery recycling depot, check in with the attendant on duty. Make sure to inform them that you wish to dispose of a car battery.
  5. Have your battery recycled. Have the attendant safely remove the old car battery from the back of your vehicle.

More Questions?

Thank you to everyone who has been so fantastic and left so many great comments and questions. Please, if you need more immediate information or advice and you are n’t able to check in with your mechanic, feel dislodge to email me directly at Acceleratedauto @ Your questions will get answer and possibly featured in a new article !

Learn As You Go

This article is accurate and genuine to the best of the author ’ randomness cognition. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal rede or professional advice in business, fiscal, legal, or technical matters. © 2012 Wrench Wench

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Category : Car Brakes