“My battery light came on!” is your current battle cry. How do you go about getting it turned off? Why did it come on in the first place? We have the answers you need to remedy this current “battery light battle” with your car.
Your car battery is a vital component of your vehicle, that provides the electricity needed to keep your vehicle’s electrical components working. The car battery also converts chemical energy into the electrical energy that powers your vehicle, and delivers voltage to your vehicle’s starter. Your car battery also stabilizes the energy supply or the voltage, that keeps your vehicle engine running.
Is It Safe To Drive My Car With The Battery Light On?
Whenever your vehicle’s car battery light comes on, there is some sort of problem with your electrical system. Your car battery light is never a welcomed or good sign of a healthy battery. Therefore, you need to head to a mechanic’s shop ASAP. Check out some of the most common reasons why your vehicle’s battery comes on:
You May Have An Issue With Your Alternator
Your vehicle’s alternator charges your car battery and helps power the electrical system while the engine is running and working. The perfect charge for the alternator lies between 13.6 and 14.6 volts. Therefore, if you have an alternator that is receiving 12 or less volts, the dreaded battery light may come on and there’s a chance that you may lose the power in your vehicle. If you have a faulty alternator, you will need to visit a mechanic for a quality repair. The other vital parts of your vehicle that you need to work will not, due to that bad alternator. For example, your headlights and ignition system will not work at all.
You Have A Faulty Battery
Of course, the most obvious reason that your battery light came on, is due to a bad battery- specifically your battery not being able to receive a charge- because of a bad cell. Your car battery’s voltage will drop, causing that unwelcomed and dismal battery light to come on. Now’s the time to call a mechanic for a quality battery replacement.
Bad Wiring or Excessive Resistance
An additional reason that your car battery light has come on is due to a broken wire, or an interruption of the flow of electricity. Additionally, if you have corrosion buildup on the battery terminals that becomes too thick or bad, then the battery light will come on for this reason too. You can attempt to remedy the situation by putting an anti-corrosive cleaner or coat on the terminals to take the buildup off. If you clean your terminals and your battery light still comes on and stays on, then it may be time for a new battery terminal end replacement.
How Can You Tell If It’s The Battery Or Alternator?
First, begin by checking your battery. During the dead of winter, it is a very common occurrence to have a dead battery- and your car just won’t start. Look at your battery gauge located on your dashboard. Check to make sure that the battery is successfully sending a charge even when the car is switched to off. If you have a dim light or even a flickering light, then you have a car component that is using up power from the battery. Continuing on, with checking the connections you commonly use- for example, your brake lights, headlight and your automatic window openers. Switch them to the “off” position and try your battery again. Make sure that you clean off any corrosion and then check to see if your battery will charge once more. Next, move on to the battery voltage with your voltmeter. You should have a reading of about 12.6 volts with your car turned off. Then turn your car on again and then check the battery again. If you have a reading of between 14-15 volts from your voltmeter, then the battery is normal; however, if you have a reading of less than 15 volts, then there may be an issue with the voltage regulator, the alternator or the wiring. If your battery just fails to keep any kind of charge-even when you’ve turned off all components and accessories in the car- then you need to begin to take a look at additional systems that work with the battery located in your vehicle.
As you check your alternator, you can test your alternator, ensuring it starts your car battery. If the battery works without any issue, and there is nothing wrong with it, then, the alternator is most likely the issue. You can perform this simple test, to see if the alternator is working: run your car and then unplug the positive connection of the car battery. If your vehicle stops, then you most likely have an issue with your alternator.
Can A Bad Fuse Cause The Battery Light To Come On?
Your car battery light is your warning indicating there is a problem with the battery. Among a bad alternator and corroded wires, bad fuses can also make your battery light come on.
What Does It Mean When Your Battery Light Comes On And Then Goes Off?
The cause of the battery light coming on and then off- could be due to a loose or “jiggly” cable. You could also have a corroded battery cable as well. There may also be a loose wire that is connecting components of the vehicle’s charging system. Just because your car battery light comes on, then goes off, does not mean that the issue has disappeared. The fact that the battery light came on should prompt you to get that car to a mechanic fast.
How Can I Make My Car Battery Last Longer?
Check out several ways you can make your car battery last longer and keep that battery light from glaring back at you!
Keep Those Short Rides to a Minimum
One way to keep your battery healthy is to keep those short rides… well, short. In other words, try to limit those quick trips to the store and other places. Whether you drive across down or down the street for a quart of milk, your car is working at full capacity at all times. Your car doesn’t care about the distance of your road trip.
Make Sure Your Battery Is Tightly Fastened
Have you checked to see that your battery is tightly fastened in your vehicle? A battery that is not fastened tightly, can wiggle, jiggle and vibrate. This can result in lots of short circuits and internal damage. You may want to have your battery terminal checked regularly – especially if you drive on lots of rough and bumpy roads.
Control Your Corrosion
Unfortunately, battery terminals corrode over time. But thankfully, you can keep them clean without spending a bundle. Get a steel brush and brush corrosion away. And be sure that you take the time to check buildup too. If you do see that you have buildup quite often, then you want to investigate- as you may have a separate issue. Scrub your battery terminals with your steel brush, after you’ve dipped your brush into a solution of backing soda and water. After you’ve scrubbed, you can take a spray bottle filled with cold water, and spray. Then follow by drying your terminals with a clean cloth.
Try Not To Use Electronics While Idling
If your car is idling, then turn off the a/c or radio. With these electric components running while your engine isn’t, you can put wear and tear on your battery power. Extended periods of idling will also wear your car battery down.
Test Your Battery
Another way to keep your car battery healthy, is to test your battery often- especially if you have an older car. When you know the condition of your car battery, you’re better able to gauge your car’s life and steer clear of surprise repairs and fixes.
How Long Do You Have When Your Battery Light Comes On?
The exact amount of time that your vehicle can continue to function with your battery light on, will depend on certain factors as well as your particular vehicle. Assuming that you have a bad alternator is the issue, it is likely that your car will lose battery juice after a half of an hour. If the issue does not lie in a faulty alternator but with something else in electrical system of your car- faulty wiring for example- then you may have even less than a half of an hour, before your car dies.
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