Why should you know the signs of a dead car battery? Or a battery that’s on its last legs?
Well, one of the most common car problems are battery related, and not because the battery is a problematic part of your car, on the contrary.
It’s just the nature of how things are. A car battery has its life span and if you don’t pay attention, you may easily end up not being able to start the car.
In order to avoid this, we’ll give you some common symptoms and signs which will perhaps help you to either notice the problem or even prevent it.
At the end of the article, you have a YouTube video about this topic that you can also watch on our YouTube channel.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A DYING CAR BATTERY?
In this part, you’ll see some symptoms of a car battery that is still functioning but probably not for long.
1. OCCASIONAL WEAK CRANKING
Occasional weak cranking is one of the most obvious symptoms. Most of the time the cranking is normal but here and there you’ll notice a weaker turnover.
It’s barely noticeable at the beginning but as the problem progresses, it gets more frequent and easy to notice.
Also, it’s more likely to happen in cold temperatures.
2. SUDDEN LOSS OF ELECTRIC POWER
You may experience a sudden loss of electric power, a sort of blackout so to say. After this, the power may return within a very short time.
For example, you try to crank but there’s no power. The next minute, when you try, everything is OK and works normally.
3. CLICK SOUND WHEN CRANKING
Besides weak cranking, you may hear just a click when you turn the ignition key. This is the starter trying to crank but doesn’t have enough power.
If you try again, the starter may work and start the engine.
4. FREAK ELECTRIC AND ELECTRONIC PROBLEMS
If the battery is weak, it may cause fluctuations in the electric system. These fluctuations may easily cause problems, especially with modern cars.
In these, there are complex systems that are especially sensitive to this.
A weak battery may cause weird anomalies like various dashboard lights coming up at the same time, various commands may not work properly, errors appearing on the dash that doesn’t make sense, or other illogical electric or electronic malfunctions.
If you experience problems like this, the battery is certainly worth the check.
Also, you can get the check engine light coming up occasionally.
If you want to see more reasons for a check engine light problem, click here to see our article and video dedicated specifically to that topic.
5. WEAK OR FLICKERING HEADLIGHTS
One of the best ways to determine the condition of your battery is to turn on the headlights while the engine is off.
If the battery is weak, you’ll notice the headlights going dimmer and dimmer within a couple of seconds. When the battery is OK, it should be able to hold the lights for at least a couple of minutes.
Just be careful, especially if you doubt that the battery is weak, that you can start the car afterward.
Also, you may notice flickering or pulsating headlights for a brief moment when you start the car.
The reason for this is that a weak battery may cause fluctuations in the power supply while the engine and alternator are running.
6. ENGINE RUNNING ROUGH OR ENGINE MISFIRE
If you notice that the engine is running rough or even misfires, a weak battery can be the problem.
Know that this is a rare symptom but since the ignition system, injection system, and ECU (the car’s computer) depend on a stable electricity input, it’s worth the check.
For instance, due to electric fluctuations because of a weak battery, the ECU which commands the injection and ignition system may experience problems that manifest through rough engine running or even a misfire.
You can get more information about engine misfires in our article written specifically on that topic by clicking here.
7. SWOLLEN BATTERY CASING AND CORRODED BATTERY TERMINALS
A swollen battery casing is a red alert to replace the battery as soon as possible, even if it still works.
Due to various chemical reactions within the battery, the casing becomes distorted, swollen up and you’ll notice the plastic changing color because of stretching.
Besides this, you may notice green and yellow corrosion on the battery terminals frequently appearing, even after cleaning.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A DEAD CAR BATTERY?
In this part, we’ll tell what commonly happens when the battery is totally dead meaning totally depleted or 95 percent depleted.
So, there may be some power left in the battery but it’s practically useless.
1. VERY WEAK OR NO CRANKING
Again, this is one of the signs of a dead car battery that you’ll probably notice first.
You’ll notice very weak or more likely, no cranking at all. So, you get in the car, turn the ignition and all you get, at best, is one turnover and that’s it.
After this, the battery is usually left with no power. At best, what will work are the dashboard lights, the interior lights, and other smaller appliances.
2. WEAK OR DIM DASHBOARD LIGHTS AND INTERIOR LIGHTS
Alongside weak cranking, you’ll probably experience the dashboard lights and the interior lights going dim or totally vanishing.
This is especially noticeable when you start to crank.
3. NO ELECTRIC POWER AT ALL
If the battery is totally depleted, then you may also experience a total loss of electric power. Much like when you take off the battery clamp for some reason.
So when you turn the key, nothing happens no dashboard lights, no interior light, the radio doesn’t work, nothing.
This is a sure sign of a dead car battery but just in case you should check that the battery clamps are clean and tightened.
We’ve shown how to do this in another article which you can read by clicking here.
There is one more useful thing to know when the battery is dead.
You can jump-start the car but in the majority of cases, the battery won’t be able to hold the charge from the alternator.
This means that the car won’t start even after the engine was running for some time.
The car battery rarely dies on you at a moment’s notice. In the majority of cases, it happens gradually which gives you enough time to notice and react.
Having this in mind we’ll give perhaps the most important tip on this topic: don’t neglect the problem.
The moment you notice weaker cranking, even occasionally, flickering headlights or other symptoms check out what’s wrong.
Otherwise, you may cause yourself some big future problems like being left stranded because you can’t start the car, you won’t be able to start during the winter season, you’ll be late for work or else.
Best notice, detect and solve a car battery problem when it’s just starting.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
SIGNS OF A DYING OR DEAD CAR BATTERY-HOW TO KNOW IF THE BATTERY IS THE PROBLEM?