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Common Car Problems: How to Diagnose Car Batteries

BY: Keith Benline
Auto mechanic replacing car battery

Keeping your car running smoothly is essential for any modern-day driver. Understanding the common car problems that are likely to arise can help reduce unnecessary stress and expense as a car owner. One of the most important things every car owner should know how to do is diagnose a faulty car battery. Nobody wants their vehicle to die unexpectedly while they’re on their way to work or on a road trip!

Taking proactive steps when diagnosing potential issues with your car battery can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Let’s review the signs that may indicate a problem with your vehicle’s battery and helpful tips for troubleshooting and avoiding a dead car battery.

What Does a Car Battery Do?

A car battery is essential to any car, providing the necessary power to get it running. When the engine is off, it is a rechargeable battery that supplies electrical energy to the vehicle’s electrical components and systems, such as lights, radio, windshield wipers, and other accessories. The battery also helps power the ignition system and starter motor when the car is being started. In modern vehicles, the engine can’t start without drawing energy from the battery.

A car battery acts as a storage unit for electricity produced by the alternator while your car is running. When it’s not running, it acts as a reserve source of electricity to keep your vehicle going in case of an emergency or short-term lack of power. Without a functioning battery, you won’t be able to start your car’s engine at all. This is why regularly checking and maintaining your car battery or for a bad alternator are important parts of auto maintenance.

A car battery’s average life expectancy depends on several factors, including its quality, how often it’s used, driving habits, and if regular maintenance has been done on it or not. If you take good care of your car battery by keeping it clean and adequately charged, then you can expect it to last anywhere from three to five years on average. Regularly check for signs of wear or damage, such as corrosion or bulging, because these can lead to premature failure or even total breakdown if left unchecked.

Signs of a Dead or Bad Battery

A dead battery can be a frustrating and inconvenient problem. Knowing the telltale signs of a dying or dead battery can help you understand when it’s time to replace it with a new battery. Here are five signs of a dead battery:

Dim Lights

Dim interior lights or headlights indicate your battery has lost its charge. If the lights become weaker over time or seem to flicker in and out, the battery may be nearing its end.

Slow Crank

When you try to start the engine, if it takes longer than usual for it to turn over, this could mean that the battery isn’t providing enough power for the car to start properly.

Dashboard Warning Light

Many vehicles have an icon on the dashboard that will light up when the voltage is low, so you know something is wrong with your battery even before you try to start your car.

Swollen Battery Case

If your car’s battery is getting older, you may notice its case expanding or becoming swollen due to heat buildup from charging and discharging cycles over time. This could cause leaks or even breakage of the case, leading to further issues in your vehicle’s electrical charging system.

Corrosion Around Battery Posts

Last but not least, corrosion around either of the two posts on top of your car’s battery indicates that it’s time for a battery replacement as this means there is an electrical current running through them which may eventually damage other parts as well as drain your battery’s energy faster than normal.

How To Diagnose a Car Battery Problem

Several steps need to be taken to properly diagnose a car battery problem. Firstly, you must check the voltage of the battery with a multimeter. This can be done by connecting the two probes of the meter to the positive and negative terminals of the battery. The reading should be around 12 volts for a healthy battery. If it is lower than this, it may signal that something is wrong and further investigation is needed.

The next step is to check for corrosion on the battery terminals or battery cable ends. Corrosion can prevent current from flowing through and cause your vehicle’s electrical systems to malfunction or stop working altogether. You can use wire brushes and soda water to clean corroded areas to remove any impurities and ensure a good connection between your battery and electrical system components.

Another critical step in diagnosing a car battery problem is checking its cranking power or cold cranking amps (CCA). This measures how much electric current your car’s starter motor needs in order to start properly on a cold morning. To test this, you will need an ammeter connected between the starter motor and the battery’s negative terminal. If it reads low, then this indicates there could be an issue with either your starter motor or your car battery itself.

Finally, another way to diagnose a car battery issue is by doing an internal resistance test which measures how effectively electricity flows through your car’s cells when under load. You can use an ohmmeter or digital multimeter for this specific battery test. Still, if you don’t have one readily available, then you should take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic who has access to these tools for more accurate results.

Do Extended Warranties Cover Dead Batteries?

If you have an extended warranty on your vehicle, you may be wondering whether or not it covers a dead battery. With most extended warranties, batteries are considered a “wear and tear” item and not covered under warranty. However, many batteries come with a warranty, so you can check with the store you purchased it from to see if it is still under warranty. With Endurance Elite Benefits, you can get excellent services not typically found in most extended warranties, including roadside assistance to help jump-start a dead battery.

Saving on Vehicle Maintenance With Endurance

With an auto protection plan, such as those offered by Endurance, car owners can get factory-like coverage for years after their manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Each vehicle protection plan from Endurance comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, 24/7 roadside assistance and towing, and many more benefits.

All Endurance customers will receive Elite Benefits for one year with a small activation fee as an added bonus. These benefits include key fob replacements if lost or stolen, flat tire repair if you experience a blowout on the road, up to $500 in collision discounts, and $1,000 in total loss protection.

Request a free quote by calling (800) 253-8203 or shop online to learn more about Endurance protection plans that fit your specific budget and needs. For more information, such as DIY car tips, automotive expert buying guides, or extended warranty comparisons, visit our blog.

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