It is very common to wake up in the morning and find a dead battery. Your vehicle’s battery is responsible for giving the first electrical signal to get your vehicle started. Without a perfectly working battery, you won’t be able to get your car going.
Over time of use, your vehicle’s battery can die due to many reasons. It could take you as simple as leaving the headlights on overnight to drain your battery. It could also be your battery getting older and not able to maintain the charge.
Whatever the cause was to drain your battery’s charge, you must take action and replace it to avoid significant repair costs.
Like most vehicle components, your car’s battery will tell you it needs replacement before it even gets damaged.
In this article, we provide you a quick overview of the role of your vehicle’s battery. Then we highlight the top 10 signs for a bad car battery.
What is the car battery, and what does it do?
There is a very common misconception that the vehicle’s battery is responsible for keeping all electrical systems going in your vehicle; however, this is not the case. Your vehicle battery has several vital roles, including:
- Storing chemicals
Your vehicle’s battery is the house for chemical materials needed to create the required amount of electrical energy.
- Starts the ignition
The main role of your vehicle’s battery its to provide the required amount of electricity needed to trigger the vehicle’s starter.
- Maintain sustainability
Furthermore, the battery is responsible for keeping continuous vehicle sustainability in the electrical cycle.
- Transfers current to the alternator
In addition to the previous roles, the battery also transports the initial amount of energy needed by the alternator to get started.
- Receives system updates
Finally, your vehicle’s battery is updated frequently to regulate the required amount of energy needed to get for the next vehicle startup charge.
10 Signs of a bad car battery
Now we understand the main role of the vehicle’s battery, and it is important to keep an eye on signs of a bad car battery.
Like most vehicle parts, your car’s battery will tell you if it will get damaged before it even does. Here are some signs you must not ignore to maintain a good running battery in your vehicle:
- Your vehicle’s engine takes time to crank
Usually, your engine requests some electricity from the battery to kick off. When your battery is getting worse, it will take time for sufficient electricity to get to the engine.
If, for any reason, you noticed that the engine takes a long time to crank, you must take your vehicle to a professional mechanic and get it inspected.
- You might hear a weird sound like clicking whenever you turn the key
The other biggest sign of a bad battery is hearing some clicking sound each time you turn the key, trying to get your vehicle started. It doesn’t sometimes mean that the vehicle won't start; it makes the clicking sound several times before getting the vehicle started.
In some difficult situations like a completely dead battery, the vehicle might continue making the clicking sound without getting the vehicle started. Some people think if they leave the vehicle for a little and come back, they might get going. However, it is usually that the clicking sound is a clear indication of a dead battery.
- Your vehicle’s headlight is not bright
Another clear sign of a bad battery is the dim headlight. You know your vehicle very well, and it is usually very clear when the headlights are not as clear as usual.
While there are many reasons for dim headlights like a bad alternator or issues with the electrical wires, sometimes it could be your vehicle’s battery causing the problem.
- Your electrical system is not acting as usual
This sign is very common in modern vehicles with lots of features requiring a continuous supply of electricity. For example, your heated seats, power windows, dashboard lights, radio, and other electrical components might act weird, indicating issues with your vehicle’s battery.
- Several check lights illuminating
Your vehicle’s dashboard has several warning lights in different shapes. Each light is used by the internal computer to grab your attention to a specific problem.
There is a battery-like check light, which usually indicates issues with the electrical system. While the check light could illuminate due to problems with the alternator or the wiring system, a bad battery can also trigger this check light to illuminate.
Whatever was the reason for check light illuminating, you must not ignore the problem, and you have to take your vehicle to a professional mechanic as soon as possible.
The best thing to do in this situation is to limit using the electrical system as much as you can. For example, avoid using the heated seats if it is not wintertime. Furthermore, turn off the radio and any other unnecessary electrical component in your vehicle to maintain the electricity to more important components.
- Your battery's case starts swelling
Your vehicle’s battery might die when get exposed to extreme hot or cold temperature. The battery’s box contains certain types of chemicals that can react to extreme temperature variation. For instance, if your battery froze in winter, it will swell and stop providing the required electricity.
Unfortunately, a swollen battery is not something you can repair, and most of the time, it requires replacing the whole part.
- Your vehicle’s battery is getting old
In general, the vehicle’s battery lasts up to four to five years. This number might vary depending on your driving style and the environment you drive in when it comes to temperature.
Thus, once you get close to the five years, you must get your vehicle inspected to be aware of when to replace it. Sometimes it is helpful to check the battery’s lifespan written on its case. The manufacturer usually provides a due date for when to replace this battery. However, you might relay on this date, especially if your vehicle’s battery gets exposed to extreme weather conditions.
- Your battery is not connected properly to the electrical system
In your vehicle’s electrical system, the different components are connected using a set of wires and terminals to the battery.
Sometimes, the battery’s terminal might get loose and not tightly connect to the battery. In that case, the vehicle will think that the battery is dying.
The best thing to do then is to try and tighten the terminals yourself. Then, check if your vehicle complains about a dead battery. However, if the problem was not resolved, then the issue is not related to the terminals, and you must get your vehicle tested by a professional mechanic. The earlier you go, the lest repair effort is needed.
- Your vehicle’s lights were left on overnight
Many people might say they don’t see any reason or cause for why the vehicle is complaining of a dead battery. What they don’t know is that the issue could be that they left the headlights on overnight.
Leaving the headlights on is one of the most common causes of a dead battery. Therefore, you need to maintain a good habit of checking that the electrical components were turned off each time you leave the vehicle.
- Your vehicle’s battery corrodes.
As your car’s battery gets older, you will notice some corrosion building upon its surface. If you tried wiping the corrosion and found it is not just on the surface, this is a clear sign of a bad battery.
If this is the case, you must get your vehicle’s battery replaced as soon as possible.
How to expand the battery’s lifetime?
As we mentioned earlier, most batteries last up to five years; however, certain things can shorten your car’s battery’s lifespan.
For instance, the car’s battery is very sensitive to temperature. Thus, exposing the battery to extreme hot or cold temperatures can shorten its lifespan.
Several automotive experts indicated that removing corrosion from the battery’s wiring and terminals can expand the lifetime of the battery. You can do so using products made specifically to remove corrosion from the auto part store. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, you can use baking soda with some water and scrub the corroded places. Of course, you want to follow the safety steps to avoid getting into any injuries.
Can I drive with a bad battery?
The short answer is yes, and you can drive your car with a bad battery IF the engine is already on. In other words, your vehicle’s battery is needed only to get your engine started; once it starts, you should be able to drive just fine.
However, if you decided to stop anywhere, the battery will not have the required juice to get the vehicle started again. As a result, you must get a jump start to get your car going.
While you can drive a vehicle with a dead battery, it is never recommended to make it a habit. Not only because it can be very frustrating, but also because it can cause further significant problems to the electrical system.
How do I know if it’s the battery or the alternator?
While both the battery and the alternator might have very similar signings when they get bad, there are simple checks you can do to confirm whether it’s the battery or the alternator.
For example, if you couldn’t get your vehicle started. You can try and jump-start your vehicle; if the vehicle started, then it's your car’s battery causing the problem. However, if you used the jump start and your car did not get going, then it is another electrical component causing the issue.
How much does it cost to replace a car battery?
The typical cost of a car battery is somewhere between $50 and $120, according to CostHelper.com.
While this range covers the cost of the part itself, the bill is not finalized as there are additional labor costs that could be very significant.
In the automotive world, repair costs are divided into labor and parts costs. Parts costs are usually the same everywhere you get your car repaired. However, labor cost differs from the service location.
For instance, if you get your car repaired at a small repair shop, you will significantly lower the price than a dealership.
On the other hand, many people prefer to get their car’s repaired at a dealership, especially luxury cars. This is because they trust that the dealership mechanics are experienced enough to repair the vehicle without causing other problems.
Lastly, when the repair is not very complicated, many people get it done on their own using available DIYs on the internet.
Your car’s battery is responsible for providing the initial amount of electricity to get your vehicle started. While many people think that the battery maintains electricity to the entire electrical system, this is not the case.
The vehicle’s battery can get damaged over time of use, causing it not to maintain the charge for a long time. That’s why, in vehicles with older batteries, it is not very rare to deal with a dead battery every morning.
There are several sights you must look for to avoid having a dead battery anytime. For instance, if you noticed the vehicle taking a long time to start, the battery is swollen or corroded, electrical components are not functioning properly, or even your battery is over five years old, expect a dead battery any time.
Therefore, if you noticed any of the mentioned signs of a bad car battery, you must take your vehicle to a professional mechanic as soon as possible to avoid significant repair costs and to maintain a perfectly running vehicle all the time.