Aside from fuel, the car battery is one of the most important parts of your vehicle. Because of their accompanying warranties (12, 18, 24 months), we tend to neglect or simply forget that they’re due for replacement. Here are a few things to remember and look out for so you won’t find yourself with a dead car battery at the most inconvenient time.
Dim lights, weaker horn
Table of Contents
The car battery provides electrical power to any device. One of the first telltale signs is when you notice that your cabin or headlights start becoming less bright. If you also notice it dimming when you slow down or are at a stop, and it starts getting brighter again when you start moving, your battery is already struggling with its current charge.
An added thing to check when this becomes evident is to have your alternator checked. Sometimes the alternator is at fault for not getting to charge the battery enough to hold power. In either case, have them checked together. It’s better to isolate a simple dead (or dying) battery from a damaged alternator.
Aside from lights, other functions require electricity like power locks, motorized seats, and even power windows. Should the lock trigger not work instantly, or if your seats and windows start moving at a crawl, this may be a sign that your battery’s about to go kaput.
Then there’s also the matter of the dreaded “Christmas” lights on your gauge cluster. Whether we’re talking digital or analog gauges, there are bulbs that make use of electrical power in there, and if for any reason they start flickering or going out one at a time or all at once – with accompanying hard starting that we’ll get to next – your battery is on its way out.
Oh, and if the battery icon lights up, consider yourself warned that there’s something already wrong with electrical delivery in your vehicle.
This is something you can both hear and feel. Normally your car would start with just “one-click”. If your car battery is dying, then you’d feel weaker vibration when cranking, and it takes a longer time to crank up when you turn the key or press the starter button. Again, this can also be attributed to other factors such as old spark plugs, a faulty distributor, or corroded contacts. Either way, it’s always best to have your battery checked if you notice this happening more regularly.
Your car battery has two terminals, and if you see either or both of them accumulating white or blue residue, it may be best to have it replaced already. The presence of this residue may likely be due to a leak, or a chemical reaction between gases and liquids coming in contact with the terminals.
Now’s also a good time to check for physical leaks, cracks, or any sort of deformation on the battery’s exterior. If you do find any of these, get a new battery as soon as you can or you risk more damage and even harm should anything happen to the battery.
Your battery is just plain and simple old
Remember we mentioned that a car battery is often neglected due to its warranty? Some make the honest mistake of overlooking it, but there are also some who would push the car battery envelope further and longer than its recommended usage. This is not good at all.
We understand that a car battery doesn’t come cheap, but their shelf lives, warranties, and usage time are there for good reason. They can start failing and going dead in a snap, they can start leaking, and yes they can even explode if they’re continued to be abused beyond normal use. The least you can do is have it checked for voltage, and if it already obviously falls lower than needed, have it replaced than risk more harm to your car or to you.
Owning a vehicle is like having a child. There are so many things to keep tabs on and there is the potential to forget some things. That’s not your fault. But what’s very controllable, though, is how to address certain signs that point towards immediate replacement. Don’t skimp on simply doing a visual check on your car battery, or intentionally neglect signs that they need to be replaced. It may be pricey on paper, but it will be safer for you and your car if you have it done when it needs to be done.