Let us set the scene, you overslept, and you’re running late for work. You finally make it out the door and into your vehicle, you put your keys in the ignition, you turn the key and… nothing. Your car won’t turn over. You try again and then again, but still, nothing. Your battery has died. Such a horrible start to your day! Were there signs? Should you have seen it coming?
SAVE YOURSELF A HEADACHE—KNOW THE WARNING SIGNS OF A DYING BATTERY
- Slow engine crank. This is probably one of the most common symptoms of a dying battery. The engine pulls amperage from the battery each time it starts. If your battery is close to dying, you will likely find your engine slow to crank. If you hear your engine cranking slowly, bring the vehicle in as soon as possible. Don’t ignore it, or you may find yourself in the exact position we described above.
- Clicking sound when turning the key. If the engine does not crank at all, the vehicle will often just make a rapid clicking sound, signaling the available power is too low to crank the engine. You can try turning your key as many times as you’d like, you can even leave your car for a bit and come back to try again, but the outcome will be the same. If your car won’t start and all you hear is a clicking noise, your battery is either almost or completely dead.
- Dim headlights. The headlights dim when they are not getting the power they need to shine as brightly as they should. If your headlights are not as bright as you remember them being before, you may want to consider having your battery checked.
- Problems with electrical components. Most modern cars have many electronic accessories, such as power seats, power windows, radio, dashboard lights, headlights, windshield wipers, and more. Each of these things requires the electricity that comes from your vehicle’s battery to function. If these components start acting up, you should have your battery checked.
- Dashboard warning light illuminated. Most modern vehicles have a dashboard warning light, typically in the shape of a car battery, that illuminates when the battery is not being reloaded properly or when it has an internal problem. The light could also indicate that there is a problem with the alternator or another part of the electrical system. When the light comes on, your best course of action is to have your vehicle’s electrical system inspected by one of our certified service technicians.
- The battery case is swollen. Basically, a battery is a chemical reaction confined in a box. Sometimes, as with any chemical reaction, things can go wrong. The sides of the battery case can swell when the battery is exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures. In the winter, the battery may discharge and freeze. This freezing, as well as swelling from excess heat, can cause an “electrically dead” battery. When this happens, the battery cannot be recovered and will need to be replaced.
- The battery is “old.” The car battery usually only lasts around four or five years. The lifespan can fluctuate based on exposure to extreme temperatures (hot or cold) and your driving habits. Once your battery reaches the four-year mark you may want to have it tested to see how much life it has left. If you are unsure how old your battery is, the manufacture date can often be found on the battery case. But, if you can’t find it, and are still unsure, you may want to consider having it tested.
- Loose battery terminals. Check to make sure the battery terminals are properly connected as they can make the vehicle act as though the battery is dying. If they are loose, tighten them and see if the problem goes away. If it doesn’t, then the battery may be dying and you should have it tested.
- You left a light on. Sometimes operator error is the reason the battery has died or is dying. If you have run through every explanation you can think of and none of them are the cause, it may be something as simple as you left a light on. It may have been overnight, it may have been for a week, in any case, it drained your battery. Don’t beat yourself up, it can happen to anyone. Recharge or replace the battery if needed and try and pay closer attention in the future.
You don’t have to be running late for work to find that rapid clicking noise when you try to start your car frustrating. Fortunately, if you pay attention, your battery gives warning signs that they are going to fail. This will give you plenty of time to have it charged or replaced before it is too late.
If you need help with your battery, give us a visit. Meridian Automotive provides complete automotive repair in Meridian, Idaho, for most cars, light trucks, and SUV’s. For over 20 years we’ve been Meridian’s auto repair experts. Don’t just trust anyone with your automotive repair needs, trust the experts at Meridian Automotive. Call us today (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment online.