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Battery

How to Know When It Is Time to Replace Your Car Battery


Daniel McDonald
Daniel McDonald9 min read
How to Know When It Is Time to Replace Your Car Battery

The 12 Volt lead-acid battery is used in almost every combustion engine vehicle. They are some of the most integral components of a car, responsible for jump-starting the car, and making electrical components function inside it. Despite its importance, most car owners usually overlook the battery and ignore its maintenance. For this reason, a car battery is more likely to die out due to its minimal life span and undermined maintenance measures. To understand more about why replacing your car battery is essential, you have to first understand what it is.

What is a Car Battery?

Inside the battery unit, there are lead plates submerged in acid. This creates a chemical reaction that helps provide the necessary voltage and current to the starter motor. This goes to show that the battery is there to store energy in the form of chemical energy, and it does not hold any electricity. It instead converts the stored chemical energy to electrical energy, which then powers the engine, electrical system, phone charger, and more.

A car's battery is also rechargeable. When the car's battery receives electricity, then the chemical reaction reverses and the car battery is recharged, and this is how a car charging system works. The battery starts the engine by sending electricity to the starter motor, which engages a small gear onto the flywheel of the engine.

The starter motor needs to provide a large amount of force in order to turn the flywheel. This large current demand is only needed for a few seconds. The alternator is another component that is connected to the engine, and the engine rotates this component so that it is able to generate electricity.

Rudimentary Diagnosis of Car Batteries

A vehicle's battery life span is finite and is bound to die. For this reason, it is very important to keep track of the check engine light and figure out whether the battery needs to be replaced. A good battery inspection will let you know whether you need to replace the car battery or if there are faults in the car engine which are causing your car to have trouble starting. For this reason, it is important for you to get your car battery checked.

The most rudimentary way to check whether you have a dead battery does not require you to hire a technician to get your battery tested. Car batteries are very simple devices, but there are few maintenance measures that you can do. For instance, you can check the water levels inside. If you find that the battery cells are covered with battery acid, then they do not need any more water.

However, if you find the water levels to be low, you can use distilled water and pour it until it covers the plates. Some car batteries are sealed, which means that you do not have to check for water in them. Regardless of what type of battery you use, you will eventually need to get the car battery replaced and purchase a new battery.

The next thing you can check is the corrosion on the battery terminals. Addressing corroded terminals is very easy, all you need is a cleaning device from which you can remove the corroded matter from it. Technicians and car experts will run a battery test using a machine, which will accurately tell you whether you need to replace your old battery. This is why it is always a good idea to take your battery to the auto repair shop.

By following regular maintenance and the above-mentioned measures, you can make the battery's life last much longer. However, this is not the only thing that you can do to use the car battery to its full potential.

How to Increase Car Battery Life

There are many ways you can make your car battery last as long as it possibly can. Getting a new battery can be an expensive endeavor, which means that frequent battery replacement can be very costly to the average vehicle owner. Below are tips that can help you optimize your battery performance.

Use it All the Time

This tip can sound counter-intuitive, but that is in fact not the case. The car batteries are not like cell phone batteries. When you use your cell phone, the battery eventually drains and runs out of electricity. Car batteries on the other hand are different. Once they start your car, the alternator recharges the battery and runs the engine.

Therefore, if you just let a car battery sit and you do not use it, it will go bad. If you do not use the car much, it is a good idea a battery charger that trickle charges your battery, and exercises it so that it stays strong.

Have the Correct Battery

Make sure that you have the correct battery in your vehicle. When you look closely at the battery, you will notice that they have ratings on them. These ratings are known as cold-cranking amps. This rating should be compatible with the vehicle you drive. This rating defines the car's capability of starting in extremely cold conditions.

Have Your Alternator Checked

The alternator works in tandem with the battery, this means that if one or the other is weak, it will cause significant harm to the battery. If you have a weak alternator, then you will be able to make the battery work harder and faster. An alternator creates alternating electricity, and then the diodes and internals of the alternator transform that into direct electricity.

When things break, the alternator will put out electricity that is way too high voltage and that will destroy the battery. It will not take the mechanic three minutes to check this component. you can also do it yourself by purchasing alternator checking tools and having it tested every once in a while. It is better to change them sooner than later.

Improve Driving Habits

Sometimes, bad driving habits are also responsible for a vehicle's battery degradation. For instance, leaving the electrical components inside the car while leaving it parked for a long time is a bad habit and will drain the life of a battery sooner. Moreover, not driving the car for a long time is also a big issue when it comes to battery health.

Signs that You Need a Battery Replacement

When a car battery is at the end of its life or when it is dying, it will give off recognizable symptoms while you are driving it. You need to be aware of the signs of a dead battery so that you can quickly get your car battery replaced before its life runs out and you find yourself stranded on the middle of a highway.

Look for the Battery Age

The first thing to look out for when inspecting a dying battery life is its age. On many of the batteries, there will be a section where you can find out about the date on which you purchased the car battery. This will be a very good indication when finding out how much life is left on your battery.

Most of the time, car owners will need to replace their old batteries every five years or less depending on usage. You can even stretch out this time to seven years as well. Overall, age is the biggest reason why you would need to replace your car battery. If your battery is more than 4 to 5 years old, you can consider replacing it.

You should not wait till you are stranded in the middle of the road. Another thing that people do not realize is that hot weather is very hard on batteries, and so is cold weather. People are used to the winter season being the time when batteries fail. However, batteries will fail a lot when you get into extreme temperatures. Therefore, if you know the age of the battery, you do not have to wait until you are stranded.

A Slow Crank

This symptom of a dead battery is one that people will notice before any other symptoms. This is when the battery is displaying a very slow crank, or in other words, it is taking a while to start when you put it into the ignition. If the sound of your car starting is spaced out and you have to wait a few seconds before the engine starts, then just be careful about whether it is time to replace the battery.

Malfunction in the Electrical system

If your car's components are malfunctioning all of the sudden, then this could indicate that the battery is dying. This could be presented as our dashboard battery light blinking, headlights dimming, or other battery-powered components misfiring.

Other times, these suspicious activities could be the windows rolling up and down slowly, and it could also be your dome lights not working. Hence, if you notice any issues of such sort, then it is a strong indication of the battery aging.

Bad Smell From The Battery

This symptom occurs due to the sulphuric acid residue spraying out of the battery. This indicates that you have a leaking battery. The acid from the battery is leaking and falling onto the vehicle's hot engine, which is causing it to evaporate. This evaporation of the water and sulphuric acid causes a distinct smell to emerge from the car's battery.

Not ot mention, this can also cause the emission of smoke from the batteries as well. So if you see smoke or smell coming from your vehicle's battery unit, then this is definitely a time to replace the battery with a new one.

How to Replace Your Vehicle's Battery?

There are a couple of ways you can check whether your battery is bad that we discussed earlier. Once you have confirmed that you have a bad battery, it is important that you replace it. The process of replacing a battery is, fortunately, an easy one, and it does not require you to seek technical help.

The tools needed for a battery replacement are very basic, and all you need is an eleven or ten socket, along with a ratchet, screwdriver, and most importantly a new battery. It is also good to keep in mind that you can hook up your battery to a memory saver which will attach to your OBD 2. This step is only important if you want to keep your preset radio stations and memory seats in the car.

Thinks to Keep in Mind

When replacing a battery, keep in mind to always remove the negative cable first and then the positive cable. Also, keep the batteries verticle at all times so that you do not tip them over. Try not to move them into angles because you do not want the battery acid to fall on you or the vehicle since it is not safe.

Step #1

This step requires you to undo the bolts and remove the negative cable from the battery terminal. Then you can move on to the positive cable. Once the terminals are loose, you also need to be aware of bolts on the bottom of the battery that you will need to unscrew to remove the battery from its place.

Step# 2

The second step involves removing the old battery from its compartment to make way for the new one. It is important to recycle your old batteries. Most auto parts stores will recycle these batteries for free.

Step#3

This step is when you are ready to add the new battery to the car. To do this, simply pick it up and put the battery in where the correct terminals go. Batteries are heavy so you need to be careful when picking them up for this step.

Once you have put the battery in place, you need to move forward and reconnect the terminals to the battery. when re-attaching the cables to the terminals, make sure that you attach the positive cable first, and then move on to the negative terminal.

How to Jumpstart a Car Battery

If your battery is dead, you will need to jumpstart the car otherwise it does not start. Dead vehicle batteries are very common during the winter season. Fortunately, simply having a pair of jumper cables, you can jump-start the car and give it momentary power so that you take the trip to the auto shop for a replacement.

Along with the cables, you will also need another vehicle that will power your car. Make sure that the helper vehicle is parked nose to nose with the dead vehicle, about 18 inches apart. Also, ensure that both vehicles are parked and have emergency brakes on and engines off.

Clamp the red part of the jumper cable to the dead vehicle's positive terminal, and attach the other end of the cable to the functioning car's positive terminal. you have to then start the helper vehicle and rev its engine until the dead vehicle is fully charged.

After a couple of minutes, you can begin to start your car and judge whether it is taking a couple of attempts. Once the nonfunctioning vehicle starts to run, disconnect the cables and drive the car so that it recharges

Final Words

Vehicle batteries normally have a date on them which helps mark their running time. If you can see the date, you can tell how old your vehicle is. If you happen to get to the point where your car has a slow start, and wouldn't start for extended periods, then it may definitely be time for a new battery.