If you're looking for when to replace your car battery, here are the 10 common signs of a bad car battery:
- Difficulty cranking the engine
- Strange clicking noises when turning the key in the ignition switch
- Dimmer headlights
- Issues with the electric system
- Warning lights illuminating
- Weird battery case shape
- The battery is old
- Problems with the connections
- Signs of terminal corrosion
- Mistakes that drain the battery
Over time of use, your vehicle battery is expected to fail and that’s when you'll have to replace it. However, the last thing you want to do is wait until the last minute where the battery completely fails.
When your battery is failing or about to fail, your vehicle will bring your attention by showing you certain signs. Some of these signs might be obvious to almost every driver, while others might be a little bit tricky to detect.
Familiarizing yourself with the common signs of a bad car battery help you answer the question of when to replace your car battery. Once you have a good answer, you can easily replace the battery and never get to a point where your battery breaks down suddenly, nowhere where you are not prepared or where help is not close.
Why does your car need a battery?
Before we dive into the details about when to replace your car battery, it is essential to have a good understanding of the importance of your vehicle's battery. Some drivers might underestimate the purpose of the battery and think that it's OK to wait for the battery to fail.
In general, your vehicle's battery is responsible for multiple jobs, and the most important job is to get your vehicle started. There is a very common misconception that the battery is responsible for continuously charging the electric components while driving your vehicle. However, that's the alternator's responsibility.
The battery is the one that gives the initial charge for your engine to get started. Without a perfectly working battery, you'll deal with situations where you can't start your car if you'd have ever been in a situation where you try turning the key in the ignition and find no response. In addition, you've probably noticed that there is some clicking noise only and the car can't get going. That's when you might reach out to help someone to give your car what's known as a jumpstart.
The jumpstart is a way to skip the batteries roll and have your vehicle get started without needing the battery. However, jump-starting your car should not be a permanent solution, which means you should not rely on anything except the vehicle's battery to get your car started.
When to replace your car battery? 10 signs of a bad car battery
By now, you have a good understanding of the importance of having a perfectly running battery in your car. Therefore, the next step for you is to familiarize yourself with some of the common signs of that car battery, so you know when to replace your car battery.
The good news is that these signs are very common and many of them are very simple for any inexperienced driver to detect immediately. Let's see if also look at some of these signs:
1. Difficulty cranking the engine
Since your battery's main and most important role is to get the engine going, the first thing you'll notice is that the engine is not cranking fast feared. It will take some time, and it will be much slower than before for your vehicle to get started.
When that happens, it could be an issue with the battery, but also it might be related to something else. Therefore, the best thing you can do here is reach out to your mechanic and have him pinpoint the root culprit causing the problem.
2. Strange clicking noises when turning the key in the ignition switch
You might also notice that all you hear is just clicking noise whenever you turn the key in the ignition switch comma. The problem is related to a bad or drains battery in most scenarios.
It indicates that your vehicles are trying to crank the engine but not receiving the initial electric charge from the battery. Note that a problem with a starter might also lead to this clicking noise, so you cannot immediately replace the battery to resolve the issue unless you confirm with your mechanic.
3. Dimmer headlights
When the headlights are not as bright as before, you are most likely dealing with a drained battery. The battery might have some charge, but it's not enough for the dim headlight to become brighter.
4. Issues with the electric system
You also need to change some of the electric system components like the heated seats, dashboard lights, radio, power steering, etc. If you realize that those elements are not working properly, especially when your engine is not running, it could indicate that your battery is drained or has some issues.
5. Warning lights illuminating
In some vehicles that rely on the battery for turning on certain components, you might notice some warning lights on the dashboard. The warning lights are extremely critical, even if they refer to a minor element. The warning lights are a way for your car to communicate with you and bring your attention to internal issues.
Therefore, you must keep an eye on these warning lights and take care of them immediately once you notice them. Your mechanic should tell you whether the warning light is related to an issue with the electric system or probably the battery once you have the car inspected by a professional.
6. Weird battery case shape
If you are concerned that the battery is not in a condition, you can perform a quick visual inspection rather than waiting for your mechanic to confirm. For example, if you realize that the battery's case is not as it should be, it might indicate that there are some issues with the battery and it's reaching the end of its lifetime.
It's important that if you notice any leaks or chemicals coming out of the battery, you must not touch it because those are most likely poisonous and might lead to hazardous issues. Thus, once you notice the battery's shape problem, you'll need to reach out to the mechanic to have the battery replaced in most scenarios.
7. The battery is old
Everybody has an expiration date from when you put it inside your vehicle. Typically, car batteries are less between three and five years. Therefore, if you know that your battery life is approaching three or close to five years, it should be an obvious sign that it's time to replace the car battery. Therefore, rather than asking yourself when to replace the car battery, you should go ahead and do it just in case so you don't deal with certain issues that might happen when you're not prepared.
8. Problems with the connections
Sometimes you do not necessarily need to replace the car battery. In other words, it could be a problem with some of the connections that lead to the electric problems that you're dealing with. So that's why before you attempt to replace the car battery, you should look at all the connections.
For example, if you notice that the cables or the terminals are not connected properly and securely to the battery, you should secure them and tighten them to work better. However, if you did not realize any improvement, it could be an issue with the battery, and fixing the connections might not be your best option to resolve the problem.
Note that some of the connections might be broken, which means you'll have to replace them if necessary for your battery to work back again.
9. Signs of terminal corrosion
Over time of use, it's very common to see some corrosion building up around the battery terminals. It does not necessarily mean that the battery should be replaced, but it should indicate that you will need to clean this corrosion.
There is a protocol for cleaning the corrosion around the battery terminals safely without causing some risks of electric shocks. However, if you're not comfortable doing this, you should leave it to professionals.
Sometimes cleaning the corrosion might not resolve the problem, and it just becomes the only solution for you is to replace a car battery.
10. Mistakes that drain the battery
They are very common habits that continuously drain vehicles' batteries and shorten their lifetime. For example, if you continuously leave the vehicle lights turned on overnights, you'll wake up the second morning with a drained car battery.
You can easily perform a quick jump start to get the battery working again. However, a continuous situation like this leads to shortening the battery's lifetime. You might need to replace the car battery before it even reaches the interval's lifetime when this happens.
How much does it cost to replace a car battery?
Interestingly, replacing the car battery is not complicated and expensive. It shouldn't cost you more than $120. But, of course, labor cost depends heavily on who will do the job for you. For example, if you get the job done at a dealership, repair costs will be much higher than doing the job yourself.
Of course, automotive experts never recommend releasing your vehicle's battery unless you have the right level of mechanical skill sets, so you don't cause mistakes that will cost you a lot of money.
How long should a car battery last?
A typical car battery should last between three and five years. After that, it depends heavily on the battery type and the quality. There are plenty of high-quality car batteries in the market that you might want to invest in if you don't like to replace the battery frequently.
However, we highly encourage you to walk through the main pros and cons of each battery before putting your money towards an expensive one. It'll necessarily have to go with the most expensive car battery to achieve your goals if you are; therefore, evaluate what you're looking for and compare to your budget before purchasing your favorite battery.
You can't implement some practices to extend the lifetime of your vehicle’s battery no matter what type of battery you use. For example, eliminating some of the common habits of forgetting the lights turn not overnight helps extend the lifetime of your battery. Similarly, performing a continuous check on the battery and cleaning any corrosion regularly helps maintain a healthy car battery. Plenty of articles focus on some of these practices to give you a more detailed orientation.
When to replace your car battery? Final thoughts
The battery is a very critical component in any vehicle, and the role of the battery becomes more critical if you're driving a modern car that relies a ton on electrical components. Therefore, every driver must keep an eye on the common signs of a bad car battery to prevent dealing with a situation where the battery fails suddenly without any help nearby.
Therefore, this article walked you through all you need to know about when to replace your car battery. In addition, it highlighted some of the common signs you can visually find and other signs that you can notice by keeping an ear and eye on strange car behaviors.
Note that no matter how much clear you put towards taking care of the battery, you'll get to a point where you must replace it. However, if your car has other major mechanical problems, it might not be worth your investment or placing the battery even if it's not going to cost you a lot of money. In other words, if your car has an issue with the engine on the transmission, you'd better sell this vehicle and purchase a better one that probably does not have any battery issue.
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