Your Battery Is Older And Triggers A Dashboard Light
Wouldnt it be easier to tell when you needed a battery replacement if your car gave you a sign? Thankfully, most cars do just that. Your dashboard battery light is designed to illuminate when your vehicle senses a battery or starting issue. When all else fails, you can also rely on the age of your battery to provide an estimate of when it may need to be replaced. The average car battery will last three years, though this could be affected by your battery brand, vehicle type, areas climate, car care, and driving patterns.
How To Know Whether Your Car Needs Replacement Or Not
There are various reasons behind a dead battery and a car battery having a low level of power. If your battery needs replacement, the following may be the real reason.
- When you start your engine, it requires frequent jump-start to turn on your car engine.
- Your cars headlights are dimmer than usual.
- While you are driving, you see some power fluctuations like sometimes the headlights are too bright, and other times its too dim.
- You may experience some issues in turning on your engine and hear some weird cranky noise from the engine.
If you found out you have got a dead battery, then there is no need to replace it because you can make it work like a brand new battery with EZ battery reconditioning programs. The reconditioning program can jump-start your cars dead battery and make it last longer than usual car batteries. All you have to do is follow the guides instructions carefully, and you can save a lot of money.
Before We Startis The Alternator Or The Battery To Blame
If youre noticing some power issues and youre concerned about the prospect of a dying battery, you should first run a couple of tests to determine whether the issue is with the battery or the charging system before spending a good chunk of change on something you dont need.
Whats An Alternator, You Ask?
The alternator converts energy from the engine into alternating electrical current for the battery, which powers the vehicles electrical systems. So if it seems like your battery isnt working, this is the first place you should look.
You can check on the health of your alternator in a few ways:
Note: If you arent experiencing any of these symptoms, you should check your batterys voltage.
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Read The Number On The Meter
Your battery must have at least 12.6 volts to be able to start. If the battery is good, it should be around 12.8 volts. If it is below 12.6 volts, it can mean that either your battery is not accepting a charge, is not holding a charge, or it might be self-discharging. This can also mean that something is draining the charge. For instance, if you accidentally leave your cell phone on charge overnight or an interior light that does not shut off, it can cause draining and low voltage on the battery. It can also mean that your alternator is bad and not charging the battery.
This information is only one piece of the puzzle. This is the first step in testing the battery, but just because this number is good does not mean the battery can start the car. It must have enough cold-cranking amps to start the engine. To test this, leave the multimeter hooked to the battery and start the car. This might require two people, one to start the car and one to watch the meter as the car starts. When the key is turned to the on position, the multimeter should not drop below a 10. If it drops below a 10 at any time during the process, then you have a battery problem and need a new battery.
How Do I Know My Alternator Is Charging
Perform a voltmetertest. Purchase a low-cost voltmeter. Battery voltage should be between 12.5 and 12.8 volts when the engine is turned off. If its less than that, use a battery charger to charge the battery before repeating the test. After then, start the engine and look for higher voltage readings.
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How Often Should You Change The Car Battery
Is there a standard amount of time I should wait before I change my car battery? Iâve been noticing some weird stuff when starting my car lately, but I donât think my battery is old enough to need to be replaced.
every three years
- Your car has trouble starting. Your battery plays a big role in starting your vehicle, so problems with starting your car can often be attributed to the battery.
- You get a warning light. Some warning lights will tell you that you need to replace your car battery, but they could also be indicating a more serious problem.
- Your headlights flicker or dim. This is a sign that your battery is weakening, especially if it happens when your car is starting or idling.
- Your battery looks swollen or corroded. If you notice that your battery is corroded, larger than normal, or has fluid leaking from it, itâs probably time to get a replacement.
How To Test The Alternator
Its really simple to test. We need to start the car to test the alternator. On a multimeter or on the cars dashboard you can have about 14.3, 14.4 volts, thats perfect. You want to be anywhere between 13.6 and 14.6 volts, that means your alternator is outputting the correct voltage. If its higher than 14.6, lets just say its 15 volts, it could be a bad voltage regulator in your alternator, so you might have to replace that. You dont want to have too many volts, more voltage isnt good. Over 14.6 volts could damage your battery. So if you see that, thats one problem.
Lets just say you see the opposite problem. You see something below the 13.6 volt threshold. Well, were testing the voltage at the battery. So that doesnt mean your alternator is bad necessarily, it could mean that between the positive post and the alternator, theres a bad cable or a bad connection. So how do we verify that its actually the alternator thats bad? If you see low voltage, you test the voltage at the actual alternator.
Be careful with your test, and dont get any of the wires wrapped up in the belt thats spinning, that would be very bad. The positive wire will help you to find your positive alternator connector. Your alternator case is your negative, thats your ground. Connect the multimeters positive probe to the positive alternators connector. Negative probe to alternator case, scrape it a little bit to get a good connection.
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How To Charge A Car Battery
Your local stockist will be able to advise on which charger is suitable for your car and its battery some cars have larger batteries that require a more powerful charger. It’s also worth carrying a portable jump start pack in your car for emergencies, or at least some standard jump leads.
We recommend you use an automatic battery charger. These have built-in systems that stop delivering power once the battery has reached optimum voltage. They then switch to a maintenance or trickle mode that keeps the battery topped up. Some chargers also have a built-in battery tester.
Your battery charger will come with instructions from its supplier and you should follow those as well as the instructions in your cars owners manual.
Always ensure the cars battery leads are attached to the battery throughout the charging process.
Unless the instructions for the charger specifically say otherwise, do not switch the charger on until the clamps are correctly secured to the charging terminals. These are the same charging terminals that youd earlier attached the battery tester to.
With the battery tester removed, connect the black clamp to the negative terminal and the red clamp to the positive terminal.
Check the clamps on the charging leads are securely attached to the terminals and only the terminals. They must not contact any other part of the car, or a short circuit could occur.
How Do You Know If Your Car Battery Is Dead
A low reading doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got a bad or dead battery, but if it remains low after recharging or a sustained highway drive, it’s a good idea to have it checked out by an expert.
Even though testing a car battery is straightforward, we realize that it’s not something everyone will want to do. Instead, simply bring your car into your nearest Batteries Plus Bulbs store and we can test it for you, completely free of charge, and help you find the right replacement if necessary. Well even make sure your old battery is properly.
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How To Do The Engine Cranking Method
Dont get rid of your voltmeter, youll still need it for this test. Also, if you dont have a remote starter, sit in the drivers seat while you observe the voltmeter readings.
To check your car battery voltage using the crank method, connect the voltmeter to your battery following the same steps outlined above. Next, have a friend crank the engine for a few seconds while you keep an eye on the voltmeter. . The name comes from the old days, when a literal metal crank was needed to manually turn an engine on.) Should the voltage read anything below 9.6 volts, that means the battery has become sulfated and is no longer retaining nor accepting the charge.
If you want, you can take this test a little further by disabling the ignition or injection to prevent your engine from starting. This will allow you to crank engine a little longer, but we suggest cranking no longer than 15 seconds. If youre battery is properly charged, the voltmeter should show that it maintains a voltage of 9.6 volts or higher.
How To Check Your Car Battery Health
. Testing your battery is something you may not associate with regular car maintenance like getting an oil change, but the battery is needed for everything from starting your car to powering your cars computers and devices. Dead batteries are a common reason for roadside assistance calls and making sure your battery is in good condition could prevent the hassle of your car breaking down unexpectedly. You can check your car battery quickly and easily yourself.
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How Can I Start My Car With A Dead Battery
Both automobiles ignitions should be turned off. Clamp one end of the positive cable to the positive clamp on the dead battery. Now have a helper attach the other end of that line to the positive clamp on the second battery. Next, connect the negative cable to the good batterys negative connector.
I Cant See My Cars Battery Charging Terminals
Before going any further, make sure your owners manual is to hand. For battery checking purposes, youll need to know where your cars charging terminals are. Your manual will contain this information.
In many cases with more modern cars, the battery is concealed and the terminals are not easily accessible, with special safety connectors designed to stay permanently attached. These should only be removed by a qualified service technician.
In cases where the battery cables are permanently attached to the battery, the charging terminals are usually separately located and clearly marked under the bonnet.
The positive terminal will often be marked boldly in red and may have a metal post, sometimes under a sliding cover. The negative terminal may be attached directly to the metal body of the car. Itll be made from unpainted metal and may be shaped to accept a charging lead.
Once youve located these terminals, you can proceed with testing or reconnecting the battery. If you still cant find them, wed advise that you contact your breakdown or recovery service.
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Avoid Driving For Several Days Then Locate The Battery
- Wait at least a few days without driving to test your car battery, unless you’ve already determined it won’t start and suspect battery issues.
- Your car’s alternator charges the battery while the vehicle is running. Testing the battery after not driving for a few days will tell you how well your battery is holding a charge. If it runs down significantly, it probably needs replacement.
- Remove the red plastic protective cover from your battery’s positive terminal.
- Connect your battery tester’s red cable clip to the battery’s positive terminal.
- Connect the black cable clip to the negative terminal, then turn on the tester.
- Be sure to position the tester in a spot where it sits flat and won’t fall down into the engine later when you perform cranking tests with the vehicle running. Car batteries don’t have enough voltage to electrocute you, so no need to worry about that.
How To Check Car Battery Without A Multimeter
A multimeter is the best way to test your car battery to see if it needs to be replaced. It gives you a picture of how your battery is performing electronically, but there are some things that you can look for that might also tell you that your battery needs to be replaced. Here are a few of the things you should look for that tell you it is time for a new battery.
If you want to know how to check your battery visually, this video should help you out.
Things to look for are:
- Leaking battery acid
- Rotten egg smell from engine
- Extremely low water level in battery
- Cracks in the battery case
- Bulging sides on the battery case
If you see any of these signs, you should replace your car battery immediately. While it may have a little bit of life left in it, its imminent demise is near. Leaking, cracked batteries, or producing a rotten egg smell should be replaced immediately, as they are hazardous. A car battery with bulging sides is also an extremely hazardous situation, and the battery should be replaced immediately.
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How To Check Car Battery Water Levels
This article was co-authored by Rocco Lovetere. Rocco Lovetere is the Owner and a Master Mechanic at Rocco’s Mobile Auto Repair in California. With over 20 years of experience, he specializes in Honda, Acura, Toyota, Nissan, Infiniti, and Volvo cars. He is an ASE Certified Automotive technician and has worked in automotive repair since 1999.There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 21 testimonials and 88% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,095,074 times.
Learning how to safely check the electrolyte levels in your car battery is an important aspect of car maintenance that should be performed a few times each year. Checking is important for two reasons: first, because electrolyte naturally evaporates and second, because a small amount electrolyzes into hydrogen and oxygen every time the battery charges.
Physical Inspection Of The Battery
A physical examination of the car battery is essential to detect any cracks. To do this, you must first disconnect the battery terminals and then remove the battery from the car. Place the battery on a flat surface and check that no bulge has formed on the surface of the battery. Doming of the battery is the result of overcharging. Next, inspect the battery terminals and look at the insulation. If the battery has cracks, you must replace it.Before you put the battery back in the battery carrier, you must clean it. Cleaning the battery is easy. All you need is some baking soda, water and a soft brush. Pour the ingredients into a container and wash the top and side of the battery with the soft brush. Wipe off excess liquid with a dry cloth. Repeat the procedure with the connectors.Check the battery carrier for signs of corrosion and make sure there are no mixing screws. Place the cleaned battery on the battery compartment and screw it in place. Make sure that the battery does not rock sideways. Replace the terminals, starting with the positive terminals. Apply some Vaseline or grease to the poles before closing the cover to prevent corrosion.
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Lets Check Battery Connectors
Once you locate your battery, before you grab any tools, theres two quick things that we could test out. The first thing is to make sure the terminal connectors are nice and tight. Give them a nice wiggle, see if it lifts up.
If your connectors move at all, make sure you tighten it up and that could solve your issue.
Even just a little bit of looseness here could cause the electricity not to flow properly, and that could cause your car not to start.
The next thing to look for is to make sure your terminals are clean and corrosion-free. You should see no corrosion on them and they shouldnt look dirty. If you do see corrosion or dirt, its important that you clean it. You can get the instruction here: How to clean battery terminal posts and connectors