Signs That a Car Battery is Dead

Car batteries are simple devices that keep your entire vehicle running normally, so you need to look after their health. Your auto electrician can offer a car air conditioning service, and they’ll also be able to help you deal with a dead or dying car battery. In this article we’ll go over some of the symptoms that a car battery is dying and give a quick lesson on how to jump start your car.

Symptoms of a Dying Car Battery

There are a few common signs that your car’s battery is dead or dying:

  1. Nothing happens when the key is turned

If you turn the key and nothing happens, the battery is likely to blame. A very flat car battery won’t produce enough power to crank the starter motor. Try turning on the headlights. If they come on and look normal, the problem may be with your ignition barrel. If the headlights look dim or don’t come on, the battery is dead.

  1. Slow cranking

If the starter motor sounds slow or sluggish, it’s probably not getting enough power from the battery. This can be caused by battery problems, a bad alternator or issues with the starter motor itself. Check the electrical connections on the battery to make sure they’re secure.

  1. Dim headlights

If the headlights look dim or flicker while the engine is off, it’s likely that the battery is struggling to provide power. If they look dim or flicker when the engine is on, there’s probably something wrong with the alternator.

  1. Swollen battery

Batteries that are overcharged can swell due to a build up of gases inside. Don’t attempt to start or drive a car with a swollen battery. The battery may catch fire or explode and should only be dealt with by a professional.

  1. Strange smells from the engine

Car batteries contain sulfuric acid that produces a strong smell of rotten eggs when it evapourates. The sulfuric acid in a battery shouldn’t be evapourating, and it’s likely that your battery needs replacing if you notice strange smells.

  1. Corroded battery terminals

Corroded, loose and dirty battery terminals all prevent the battery from supplying power and charging properly. Check the terminals and clean off any corrosion using a wire brush. Grease and other contaminants can be wiped off with some isopropyl alcohol or brake cleaner on a paper towel. Once clean, retighten the battery terminals until they’re very secure.

How to Jump Start a Car

Car batteries can sometimes be revived by jump starting. Especially if the battery is flat because the car was left sitting too long, you might be able to bring it back to life with a jump. If you have jumper cables and a car with a healthy battery then it’s easy to jump start a dead battery:

  1. Position the two cars so that the batteries are close together. Make sure the cars aren’t touching.
  2. Switch the engine off and shift both cars into neutral.
  3. Attach the red cable to the positive terminal of the donor car.
  4. Attach the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
  5. Attach the black cable to the negative terminal of the donor car.
  6. Attach the other end of the black cable to an unpainted surface (like a bolt or bracket) of the car with the dead battery.

Double check all your connections and then turn on the engine in the donor car. Let it idle for a few minutes before attempting to start the car with the dead battery. If it cranks but doesn’t start, use the accelerator to slightly increase the idle speed of the donor car. This increases the flow of electricity and may help you start the dead car.

What Causes a Car Battery to Die?

It’s normal for car batteries to die over time. Like all batteries, car batteries have a limited lifespan, and they degrade during normal use. Talk to your auto electrician and car air conditioning service about any maintenance you can do to prolong the life of a battery. Otherwise, there are lots of things that can cause a car battery to die:

  • Extremely cold weather
  • Extremely hot weather
  • Corroded battery terminals preventing it from being charged properly
  • Bad alternator
  • Leaving the car sitting without driving it for a long time
  • Using things like the headlights while the engine is off

You should expect to replace your car battery every 3 to 5 years. Some batteries may last longer, but the lifespan depends on how you use the car and how well you look after your battery.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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