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How to Know If Car Battery Needs to Be Replaced? 10 Warning Signs

How to Know If Car Battery Needs to Be Replaced? 10 Warning Signs

Look at these 10 warning signs if you're wondering, “how to know if a car battery needs to be replaced?”

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  1. Check engine light
  2. Difficulty starting your vehicle
  3. Weird clicking noises
  4. Dimmer headlights
  5. Problems with your electric components
  6. Signs of corrosion
  7. Troubles in cold weather
  8. Weird sulfur smell
  9. Different battery case shape
  10. End of a lifetime

Car batteries are one of the most critical components underneath your vehicle's hood. They are responsible for providing your engine with the initial electric charge to get it going. Unfortunately, when the car battery sits in your car for a long time, you might get to a point where you have to replace it because batteries have a specific life span of a couple of years.

It is important for you as a driver to learn about the common warning signs indicating that your car's battery is about to fail before it even does. This way, you can replace for dealing with sudden major breakdowns in nowhere.

One of the first things to help you maintain the battery is to ask yourself the question, “how to know if a car battery needs to be replaced?” Since your vehicle is smart enough, it will typically show you some warning signs indicating that the battery is about to fail. This article walks you through 10 common warning signs indicating that you must replace your car's battery.

How to know if a car battery needs to be replaced? 10 warning signs

Have you ever seen some people stuck on the highway shoulder waiting for roadside assistance? Did you know that most of these people have battery problems, especially if it's winter season?


To avoid being involved in such situations, you must familiarize yourself with the common signs indicating that your battery is about to fail.

Therefore, if you're asking yourself, “how do you know if a car battery needs to be replaced?” Look for one or more of the following warning signs:

1-    Check engine light

Depending on your battery issues, you might deal with the check engine light dominating because of a bad battery. However, checking engine lights is typically linked to a long list of potential culprits. That's why your mechanic needs to go through a detailed inspection to confirm the actual cause of the problem and whether it's related to the battery or not.

If you don't want to wait until you reach the mechanic, you can always use a simple tool like the Sure OBDII scanner and get an idea about the error code that helps you understand the cause behind the problem.

2-    Difficulty starting your vehicle

Another common symptom indicates that your vehicle's battery is about to fail when you're having an issue starting your car. It doesn't necessarily mean that you can't start your vehicle at all, but the engine takes time until it starts.

In typical conditions, the battery should immediately send the required charge to get the engine going instantly. If that's not the case, there is an issue with the battery.

3-    Weird clicking noises

Have you ever tried turning the key in the ignition switch, and all you're hearing is just a clicking noise? This could be a problem related to the bad starter, but also it might indicate that the battery is about to fail.

4-    Dimmer headlights

If the battery has the right amount of charge, your headlights should be bright all the time. However, if you get to a point where your headlights are dimmer than before, it might indicate that the battery is not holding enough charge and cannot provide the necessary power for your headlight to be as bright as before.

5-    Problems with your electric components

If you are dealing with any problem that has to do with electric components, the issue might be related to a bad battery. We all know that the alternator is responsible for providing the necessary power for your electric components when your vehicle is running.

That might impact the alternative capability of powering these components, and you'll see it in the form of malfunctioning or troubles turning on some of these components. So, for instance, if you try turning on the radio or the windshield wipers and have issues, it could be that your battery is dying.

6-    Signs of corrosion

Another common symptom indicates that the battery fails when you notice some corrosion buildup on the battery itself and the battery terminals. You can easily clean up this corrosion if the terminals are in good condition so you can have your battery working again.

However, in some instances, even if you cleaned up these terminals, you'll still have battery issues, which means that it might be time now to replace your vehicle's battery.

7-    Troubles in cold weather

Typically, your vehicle's battery doesn't work as efficiently as when the weather is cold outside. For example, some statistics showed that at certain low temperatures of about 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the batteries efficiency is reduced to about 35%.

If the battery has troubles, you'll find it challenging to get the vehicle started and engage the battery anytime you try to start the car.

8-    Weird sulfur smell

The battery contains a lot of internal chemicals that interact with each other to generate the charge. When the battery is about to fail, some of these chemicals might leak outside, and you will notice this by smelling weird sulfur or rotten egg smell. You must stay away from the battery whenever this happens because any leak might contaminate and cause some hazardous situations. Therefore, you must leave it to professionals and have them resolve the issue without you touching it.

9-     Different battery case shape

When the butter is about to reach the end of its lifetime, you'll notice that the battery shape is not as it was before. This indicates that the battery's internal components are failing, and it's time to replace your vehicle's battery.

10- End of lifetime

Everybody has an expiration date like many other car components. This date is not necessarily linked to when the battery was designed, but it's more of when you start using it. Typically, most car batteries are expected to last between three and five years. If you know that your vehicle's battery has been sitting in your car for a similar timeframe, it might be it. It could be the time now to replace your vehicle's battery before waiting until you deal with sudden major breakdowns.

How to test a car battery at home?

Even if you noticed that you mentioned 10 warning signs indicating that your batteries are failing, it might be worth spending a couple of minutes investigating your vehicle situation and confirming that the battery has issues.

Let's take a closer look at some of their recommendations on how to test a car battery at home yourself without needing a mechanic:

1-    Locate the battery

The first step in testing you're better at home is to know where the battery exists. In most vehicles, the battery should sit under the hood in the front portion of your vehicle. However, in some vehicles, the battery might be located in the back of the car.

The easiest way to locate the battery is to follow its recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual because it should provide you with detailed guidance on where to find the battery.

2-    Check the connections

Before you move any step further, the easiest way to check the battery is to ensure that the connections are well tightened and are connected properly to your battery. Sometimes a loose connection might show that your battery has a problem.

3-    Inspect the terminals for any signs of corrosion

Another common issue that might cause your battery problems is when corrosion builds up on the battery cables and terminals. If that's the case, consider cleaning them up and ensure that there is no remaining rust. However, if the cables or terminals have some signs of breakage or cracks, it is critical that you never touch them because there is a very high chance of hazardous situations.

To clean the battery terminals from rust, you can easily apply warm water with baking soda and remove any acid outside the terminals. Then wipe off the baking soda with a dry paper towel. You also might need to disconnect the terminals and clean underneath them to eliminate any remaining signs of rust or corrosion.

One pro tip to get rid of all remaining grass is to sand the terminals, ensure they're ready to go, and provide you with the best electric current flow when connecting the cables.

4-    Check the battery voltage using a multimeter

Once the terminals are cleaned up, the next step is to check the battery voltage. You can connect the battery to a multimeter to check the voltage, and if you don't have one, you can purchase one because they're inexpensive, and you'll find them online from many different auto stores.

When connecting the multimeter, the reading should show somewhere between 12.4 volts and 12.6 volts. Obviously, if the battery doesn't have the same charge range, there might be an issue with the battery. Note that the issue might also be related to a bad alternator, so you can't immediately tell if it's the battery unless you continue through this list.

5-    Use an external charger

To confirm whether the issues are related to the battery or not, you'll have to use an external charger and gets your vehicle's battery to charge. If the battery got to charge up to the required amount of voltage, the problem might be related to a different issue.

It's critical to note that sometimes the battery might reach up to 12.0 volts when your charger is connected. However, once you disconnect the treasure, the batteries voltage might drop significantly. When this happens, it indicates that the battery can't hold a charge, and it's time to replace your vehicle's battery.

6-    Replace the battery

After confirming that your problem is related to a bad battery, you'll have to replace it immediately. But, first, you have to review your vehicle's owner’s manual to know what type of battery you should purchase and replace.

There are plenty of available online tools that help you understand and determine which battery fits your vehicle. Unfortunately, you can only input your vehicle's make, model, and here and these tools will help you list the different batteries that your vehicle is compatible with.

When shopping for your next battery, it is important to note that there are different types of batteries for the same vehicle and the biggest difference between them is just the amount of power and price. You'll find the red, silver, gold, and platinum car batteries that range from the cheapest to the most expensive type.

For example, if you're driving daily for longer distances, you might want to go with the most expensive car battery because it comes with good warranty coverage and provides you with the top power. However, if you don't drive much, you don't necessarily need to go with the most expensive, and you can easily go with the red type of car battery.

You must know exactly which term also disconnects for us to prevent safety issues. We've discussed this in detail and different article and walked you through a step-by-step procedure on how to safely disconnect and replace your battery without any problem.

How to know if a car battery needs to be replaced? Final thoughts

When dealing with car batteries, the last situation you want to be in is when you say, “if I only knew sooner!” This is a very common situation when dealing with car battery breakdowns. That's why automotive experts recommend learning about the common symptoms indicating that the battery is failing or about to fail.

This article helped you answer the question, “how do you know if a car battery needs to be replaced?” By showing you 10 important warning signs indicating a feeling battery. Whenever you deal with any of these signs, you must replace them immediately.

Note that sometimes your vehicle might be suffering from other important problems like those related to the engine or the transmission. If that's the case, it might not be worth investing in installing a new battery, and instead, you’re recommended to sell your vehicle and buy a better real car that doesn't have any problem.

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