Among the most vital components in your car is a battery. You can’t start the car or even drive without it. It becomes frustrating if you want to rush somewhere only for your engine to fail to start. That’s when you realize that the battery is dead. Apart from starting the car, it also makes the lights, radio, and air conditioning, among other components, function.
What Causes A Car Battery to Keep Dying?
You can’t afford to keep replacing a battery before its time. You need to know what could be draining your battery. Below are the possible reasons that you need to know and address.
1. Age /Poor Maintenance
If you try to start your car and it consistently refuses to start, the main reason could be that it’s worn out. So how old is your battery? If it has served you for 3-4 years, then it’s high time you replace it. It can’t hold a charge, making it impossible to supply the required current to the car. Once your battery becomes weak, a small function such as a memory function in the radio of your car can kill it. Could be that age is not the problem, so how often have you been servicing your battery? Poor maintenance can cause the battery to die regularly.
2. Parasitic Drain
If your car battery dies after sitting a few days, it could be a result of different reasons. Note that the battery isn’t supposed to die even if you leave the car in the park for a whole month. The only reason why it might die after leaving it is if it’s a high-end car whose gadgets and a computer are power-hungry. Parasitic drain is another reason why your battery dies regularly. It is caused by an electrical problem that includes poor installation, faulty wiring, or even defective fuses. Once you turn off the key, some component in the car continues to run exceeding the normal damaging the battery. After turning off the vehicle, some components like the security alarm, the clock, and even radio presents remain operational. If things like glove boxes or even trunk lights either come on or even remain on when they are not supposed to be, then they are the parasitic drains that deplete your battery.
Extreme temperatures can quickly damage an old or weak battery. If your battery is new and well maintained, then the temperature will not destroy it. If the temperature is above 100 degrees or below 10 degrees F, it can easily damage your battery. Lead sulfate crystals will build upon the battery due to the extreme temperatures, and if you don’t deal with the build-up in time, it will damage the long-term battery life. Other than the build-up, the extreme environment makes your battery not charge faster.
4. Multiple Short Drives
Maybe you’re asking, why does my car battery keep dying? The reason could be multiple short drives that weaken your battery. The term multiple drives mean that after starting your car, you drive for a short distance then turn off your engine. If you repeat that process several, your car alternator will not charge the battery full due to insufficient time. As a result, your battery will become weak, making it difficult to restart the car.
5. Defective Alternator
If your car doesn’t start in the morning, the faulty alternator could be the culprit. The alternator charges the battery when driving, as well as maintains it at an optimal form. It also powers various electrical systems that include air conditioning, the radio, and even the lights. Once it becomes faulty, maybe due to worn-out tensioners or even loosens belts, it drains your battery rapidly. The reason being, even after turning off the engine, it will continue to make the circuit charge.
6. Corroded /Loose Battery Cables
If the car battery keeps dying but the alternator is good, the reason could be corroded/ loosen battery cables. If your car has poor connections, it may not start. If the cables are loose and maybe your terminals have acidic corrosion, your engine may never start. As a result, the battery will become weak. Keep on checking the connection often. If they are loose, tighten them. You can also clean the dirt and corrosion on your terminals using a toothbrush.
7. Human Error
After driving for long, or maybe you had a rough day, you may just park the car and forget to put off the headlights. You may not close the trunk well and may forget to turn off internal lights. They will drain the car’s battery overnight, making it challenging to start the car in the morning. Before getting out of your car, always make sure that the headlights and internal lights, A/C, radio, and any other things are off. If it’s already dark, you can check the car to see if there is any light before getting in the house. Maybe the headlight of your car is supposed to remains for a while then go off after a while. If the system malfunctions, you will get frustrated in the morning. You can be waking up at night and check from a distance if you can see any light in the car.
8. Charging System Problems
It is frustrating if your battery dies in the middle of a busy highway and your car causes a jam. You can imagine the insults you will receive from some motorists. Why should the battery die when driving? Most probably, the charging system problems could make the battery drain.
Some of the Early Signs that Your Car Battery is About to Die
Rarely do car batteries dies suddenly. In most cases, it will give you warning signs that it’s about to die. Here are some of the danger signs you should never ignore. If you see them take appropriate action soonest.
1. Difficult To Start
If you struggle to start the car just once, you need to relax. But if you struggle every time you try to start your car, you need to have the battery checked. Note that some mechanical issues can make your car not start. They include a fouled spark plug or if the vehicle has sensor issues. If the car has no mechanical problem, and you struggle to start, the battery could be weak.
2. Poor Alarm System
The battery powers the alarm system. If the system gets weaker, then it means the battery has a problem.
3. Lights flicker
The battery powers all the accessories in your car. In case the battery is weak or drained, it will not manage to supply the required power for those accessories to function. As a result, your headlights will start flickering when you are driving at night; then, they will automatically fix. The instrument panel will also be dim at night. If the engine fails to start but again the lights are functioning well, the technical problem could be the reason.
- Before starting the engine- Under normal circumstances, there should be an electric response if you turn the key whichever direction. If the battery has a problem, no matter where you turn the key, the lights and the gauge will have no response. If you jumpstart the car3-5 times per week, that’s a danger sign. Also, if your car dies after staying idle for 12-30 minutes. Another sign is if you replace the starter andor alternator, then soon after, you realize that there is a problem with it.
- During startup- If you notice that the engine is producing a click sound after you try to start for three turns, that a warning. You will also notice that accessory flicker has dim lights even before you start the engine. The situation will get worse during the winter season, making it difficult to start the engine.
- When driving- the accessories will suddenly shut off. When driving uphill, the accessory belt will squeals. Also, accessory lights will either blink or become dim if you accelerate the car.
Long Does a Car Battery Last? Have you ever gone to buy a battery, and the seller assured you that it would last for five years? You must have gone home feeling happy. The truth is the maximum life expectancy of any car battery is between two to three years. If the battery exceeds three years, don’t relax and assume that it will go for two more years. You need to set aside money for its replacement since soon it will produce some danger signs.
The battery can have a shorter life than expected if the alternator, solenoid, and the starter, not to mention the terminals and the cables have issues. It is your responsibility to keep on checking them and ensuring that they are okay. You should also consider if your area has extreme weather conditions. If yes, regular maintenance will help though; don’t expect it to last longer.
That’s why you need to know the manufacturing date before buying the battery. If it’s more than one month old, don’t buy it since it will expire quickly. Ensure that the battery you buy is less than one month old.
Top 8 Car Battery Maintenance Tips For You
Corroded TerminalsAs indicated above, acidic corrosion and dirt on your terminals can weaken the battery. Luckily, you can use water and baking soda to wash the terminals. Carefully disconnect the battery. You must know the positive and the negative side. Start by disconnecting the negative side. After mixing water and baking soda in the ratio of 1:1 use as a hard bristle brush and the solution to scrub the terminals clean. Use a wet rag to wipe the terminals once you finish. When reconnecting the battery, start with the positive side. After reconnecting the battery, you need to protect your terminals from getting rust again. Use a terminal spray to coat the connection. Once you are through, spray the other terminal. You can quickly get the terminal spray from an auto part store. Note that terminal shorting May occur if you place metal objects over your battery.
Tighten The Loose Cables
You should protect your battery from excessive vibration since it can damage it if it continues for some time. Start by locating the hold-down bar. It is responsible for holding tight your battery and protecting it from vibration and making it stable. You can quickly test if it’s loose by opening the hood first. Shake the battery, and if it moves, tighten the bolts of the hold-down using a socket wrench. Maybe the hold-down is loose because it’s damaged. You need to replace it immediately.
Remember, extreme temperature destroys a battery. If your residence is extremely cold or maybe it’s winter, you need to protect the battery from the cold. You can achieve this by using a battery heater. You can easily buy the battery warmer from the local auto store part. You need to know the different types of warmers and their installation guide.
Maintain The Right Fluid Levels
Your battery should always have the right fluid level. If the level is lower than the required, add distilled water. If you want to know the level, you need to remove the battery’s vent caps. Use a flashlight to check if the fluid covers your battery plates. Refill with distilled water if the level is below the battery plate. If there is any excess fluid, use a rag to wipe it off then replace the vent cap. Wipe off the cell since you wouldn’t risk the dirt getting in the battery. Note that tap water contains dissolved minerals. If you use it, it will affect your battery performance. So how long should you check the levels? You should check whenever you refill the oil, or when every six months ends.
Once you switch off the car, you need to unplug any appliances. Whether a charger, a GPS navigator, or anything else, they should never be left plugged in the car’s charging port. If you leave the appliances plugged in, they can quickly drain all the power killing your battery. If the vehicle is not running, you should also ensure that all the lights are off. Once you park the car, ensure that the lights are off and appliances are disconnected.
Multiple Short Drives
Remember, multiple short drives destroy a car battery. It is not also good to park the car and leave it for more than a month without driving. So if you are just at home, ensure you drive the car at least 20 minutes or more per week to allow the battery to recharge.
The battery voltage should never go below 12.6 volts. If it does, not only does it affect its performance, but it also affects its lifespan. You can use a voltmeter to test if the battery is at the right voltage. You should never handle the battery without first wearing rubber gloves. You should always test it twice a year or if there is cold weather.
Suppose you don’t drive the car more often, what should you do? You should look for a trickle charger and attach it to the power outlet. It ensures that your battery has a steady charge for the period you are not driving the car. You can also use it if your car could remain for long in the garage. Depending on your car model, you can get valuable advice from your mechanic on other methods to help you protect your battery.
Every time you decide to work on your car, you should always have gloves to protect your hands from injuries. Bangles and metal wearing are risky whenever you are handling the battery charger. You are likely to suffer a burn in case of a shorting. Don’t forget to wear safety goggles. You should never put inflammable gas near your battery.
A battery is a vital component since you can never start or drive your car without it. It requires regular maintenance if you want it to serve you well. Some factors affect its life span that includes the temperature, multiple short drives, human error, charging system problems, age/poor maintenance, among other problems. You need to know the danger signs. They may appear before you start the car, when starting or even when driving. It might be hard to start the car, the alarm may have poor alarm systems, or you may notice the lights flickers. You need to have proper maintenance of your battery.
For instance, in cold weather, you need to buy a battery warmer. You can remove acidic corrosion on your terminals by washing them with water, baking soda, and a brush. Protect the battery from vibrating by tightening the hold-down bar. Whenever you are attending to your car, always wear protective gear. Avoid putting flammable gas near the battery. Proper maintenance will help the battery to achieve its maximum life span. If you have to replace the battery, ensure that it is less than one month old.