You can easily tell if your vehicle has problems, but it can be difficult to find out the cause of those problems. By quickly checking online you will witness overlapping effects of poor batteries, starters alternators, and many other engine problems. The experts in your local shop are better left with complicated problems, but will not jump to the worst conclusion yet. The best advice is to keep it simple when diagnosing cars. In this case, that means starting with the car battery.
A battery will typically die slowly which provides a warning Obviously, there are exceptions for example when a bad cell induced an internal failure When it happens, you will likely not have any warning signs, and every time you start up, you will find that your car or truck needs a jump. For most of us though, one or more of the following symptoms are normally present when our car batteries fail–and they undoubtedly will sometimes be.
But this is worth mentioning, as it seems evident. If your battery is over a couple years old, consider it's about the end of its life. All components wear out over time and batteries are no different. Repeated discharge times, extreme temperatures (cold and warm as well as other factors) and batteries are all causing drainage over time. If you don't know when it was last checked, look for a round sticker with a month or year on the plug. For starters, a sticker read on 09/15 lives on loans.
The traditional terrible symptom of a battery. You turn the key and the engine cranks, making a sluggish whirring sound, longer than usual before the engine starts. It's time to test your battery if this happens.
Cranks And Clicks But Won’t Start
A long crank or just a click from underneath the hood when you turn the key is one step beyond a slow start. If the battery is a problem, you should be able to start it and be on your way— but again, you should be on your way to your local Advance to have your battery tested.
If you only hear a click when you turn the key, this could also indicate that your starter fails. You may not have a battery issue if you try to jump start your car and you still only hear a click. Sometimes the starters will work intermittently for a while before they die completely, so repeated attempts to turn the key can help you figure this out. The starter may start after five or six attempts, while the battery will definitely not be discharged.
Car Won’t Start But The Dash Lights Work
In this scenario, your battery is likely to be strong enough to supply power to your electronic components, but not strong enough to fully energize the starter. But this is another scenario where you might be dealing with a bad starter. Jump start your car and multiple key-turn attempts are also your next steps in this case.
Jump Starting Frequently
Similar to charging your phone, car batteries are no different — when the batteries age, they lose their ability to hold on for as long. If you have an older battery that doesn't seem to hold its charge, it's probably time for a new one.
But what if your battery is new and needs a jump start? There are a few possibilities here. The first is the simplest: you have a battery that is prematurely worn out. Check your warranty if the battery test indicates that a replacement is needed.
Less commonly, there may be an electronic component in the car that draws a current even after the car is shut down. There are many sensors that are designed to operate in this way, but they do not draw enough power to drain the battery. If a component like a radio or a light bulb stays on when it's not supposed to, you'll probably find your battery dead when you're rushing out the door to work in the morning.
If your engine is slow when you turn the key, pop your hood and take a look at the battery. If you see a lot of fluffy blue corrosion-usually at a positive terminal-or a clear film across the top of the battery case, your battery is giving off acidic fumes, or the actual battery acid is starting to leak. Both of these conditions create resistance between the battery and the cables, which reduces its voltage and therefore reduces its efficiency.
Want to do a quick check to see how much voltage you're losing through your case or between the post and the cable? Set your multimeter to measure DC volts and place one lead on the case and the other on the cable— no matter where the lead goes. Ideally, you're reading will be 0.3 volts or less. More than that, you've got excessive resistance.
You can clean your battery and probably see improved performance, but be aware that this is probably just a short-term fix because the corrosion is going to return. Many professionals would advise replacing the battery and possibly even the positive end of the terminal if it is also heavily corroded.
Let's make a common misconception clear. The battery light does not indicate a problem with the battery. It's normal for your battery to get on and off right when you start your car. But if it happens while you're driving, that's a clear indication that you're charging system has a problem, and it's often the result of a faulty alternator. The job of your battery is to start the car — it's your alternator that generates the power that keeps it running and recharges the battery.
A more useful way to interpret the light of the battery is to warn you that your car is only running on battery power. If this happens, you're going to be able to keep driving a little while. If you do, you will find that your electronic systems are starting to shut down. Your headlights are likely to be dim, you may lose power seats, seat heaters, radio, etc. Because you're not going to be able to drive on battery power alone for a long time, you should keep driving to a minimum. Either replace your alternator in a trusted store, or if you're up to the task, head over to Advance for free alternator testing before you purchase your replacement.