What you need to know about a dying car battery

Oct 25, 2019 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips
The list of things you need to know about dying batteries: the possible causes, testing and proper maintenance of car battery.

You may have already experienced having the car battery die out on you even just once in your life. Most car owners would just shrug off this event, thinking that it’s a fluke. Though there are events when a dying car battery is nothing to worry about.

This could also be an indication that something is wrong with your vehicle. One obvious sign that there is something wrong with your car battery is if repeatedly dies on a regular basis. But what are its possible causes? Is there anything you can do about it? Find out in this article from Philkotse.com:

1. Why do our car batteries die?

The list of causes as to why your car battery may be dying can be endless. However, almost every reason possible could be categorized into three types. These are battery problems, simple user error, and electrical problems.

Some of these problems can be easily resolved at home. Other problems may require you to visit the nearest mechanic. Either way, you won’t really know for sure unless you go ahead and check out the problem.

Also, note that when we say “the battery is repeatedly dying,” we mean the vehicle fails to start after being parked. This is regardless of how much time has passed.  If the battery dies while you’re driving on a highway, you most likely have a problem with the charging system.

car with jumper connected to its batteries

The list of causes as to why your car battery may be dying can be endless

What can be the cause of my dying car battery?

Some of the usual reasons that cause car batteries to die over and over are corroded or loose battery connections. This can also be caused by persistent electrical drains and charging problems. In fact, bad weather can also cause your battery to die. Some of these elements are enough to cripple and kill your battery alone. Other elements may pair with a weak or old battery to ruin your day.

>>> Check out: Will a dead and dying battery destroy your cars’ alternator?

The dome lights or headlights were left on

Prolonged use of the headlights or even the dome light can drain the battery if left on overnight. Make sure that the interior lights are turned off before you leave your car for the night. While some headlights are designed to stay on for a while longer, some can stay on due to malfunctions.

Car with headlight on

Prolonged use of the headlights or even the dome light can drain the battery if left on overnight

The battery is in poor condition or is weak

A weak or poorly-maintained car battery may not be able to hold the electric charge well. Even the smallest drain, like in your car radio’s memory function, can kill a weak battery.

car battery

A weak or poorly-maintained car battery may not be able to hold the electric charge well

>>> You might want to read: 7 factors that affect your car's battery life expectancy.

If the battery connections are loose or corroded

If the battery’s connections are corroded, this will prevent the charging system from charging power to your battery. At the same time, having loose battery connections can also cause problems.

corroded battery terminals

If the battery’s connections are corroded, this will prevent the charging system from charging power to your battery

There are other parasitic drains in your car's electric system

Parasitic drains are notorious for being hidden so well. However, these are capable of killing your car batteries effectively. The common drains can be found in the glove box. However, this may also be in the trunk lights that turn on when they shouldn’t.

If the weather is extremely cold or hot

If your car battery is in good shape or it’s brand new, you have nothing to worry about. However, an extremely old or weak one may fail you if you drive under extreme weather conditions. You should still consider the fact that extreme weather can bring out other issues your car may have.

old car under the heat of the sun

You should still consider the fact that extreme weather can bring out other issues your car may have

If there is a problem with the charging system

If your car battery dies while you’re driving, it may be the charging system’s fault. Also, a stretched or loose belt can stop your car’s alternator from working.

Checking dome lights, headlights, and other accessories

Your car batteries are designed to provide power to the various lights and accessories in your car. However, their capabilities are also limited. To put simply, if you leave any accessory or lights on after the engine shut off, the battery will drain out.

For example, leaving the headlights on can drain the battery in just less than an hour. A smaller light source, like the dome light, can drain the battery overnight. So if you think this may be the problem, check the dome light after lights out to make sure it’s turned off.

car lights

Your car batteries are designed to provide power to the various lights and accessories in your car

There are also vehicles that are designed to have the lights and accessories still working even after you turned the engine off. If you’re aware that your vehicle is like this, you can confidently walk away once it’s parked. If you come back after half an hour or so and everything is still on, you just found the problem.

>>> You might not know: 10 reasons of a weak car battery.

Testing and maintaining your car battery

If the dome lights and accessories aren’t the problems, you need to check the battery next. Most problems that concern the battery can be diagnosed using certain tools. It’s also important to remember that a poorly-maintained or old battery cannot perform as well as new ones.

If the car battery is not sealed, you need to make sure that each of the cells is filled with electrolyte. If you notice that the electrolyte’s level dropped below the lead plate tops, you have a problem. The battery cells should be refilled with distilled water. Tap water is usually fine, depending on the water quality provided in your area.

How to Test a Car Battery With a Multimeter

You can also use a tool called a hydrometer. This will allow you to determine the specific gravity of the electrolyte in each cell. If there are one or more cells that need to be refilled even after fully charging, you have a problem.

Checking for corroded or loose battery connections

Checking for damaged or loose car battery connections requires you to take a close look at the cables, connectors and battery terminals. There may be signs of corrosion that aren’t noticeable at first. In some cases, you can also observe large blue, white or green signs of corrosion.

Remove corrosion on the terminals by mixing baking soda with water. Then, scrub with a brush with stiff bristles. You can also use sandpaper to remove corrosion from the cable terminals.

Author

Hanna Sanchez

Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.