How to Determine If It’s Time for a Car Battery Replacement
When you buy a car off the lot, the last thing you think about at that moment is will it start. Your car battery is not something that you really consider being a problem until that first time your car does not start. In this blog, we will give you some signs that you should watch for. Think of the following blog as a when to replace car battery 101 lesson.
Battery Use and Size
Most vehicles use a standard 12-volt acid battery, which is rechargeable. The charged power in the battery uses it to power the vehicle systems and turnover your engine to start it. The alternator in your vehicle will generate electric power to recharge the battery as we use it.
All vehicles that use batteries to power them have their own special type and size of the battery. You need to make sure that the battery size is accurate for your vehicle and has the correct terminal locations as listed in your manual. If you need to get a new battery, you will find charts online or at your auto parts dealer to make sure you get the right one.
How to Test a Car Battery
They often measure battery capacity in cold-cranking amps. Your mechanic or even a repair shop can test your battery for you with a gadget that will measure the cold-cranking amps that yours has versus a newer battery. Once you have this test done, you will know if you need a new battery or if it should just need to be fully charged.
You can also have it tested with a voltmeter that you may have at home, and this will tell you if the charge of your battery is good or not while the engine is off. Most batteries as said before will be a 12 volt, so if while the engine is off you see that your tester is at 12.5 volts, but when you put something on like your headlights and it lowers it to under 11 volts, then your battery is most likely not good.
When to Replace Car Battery 101
There are some telltale signs that you should watch for in which you will know if you should replace your battery. While some of them might happen not during the normal life of the battery, others will happen eventually.
Engine cranks but doesn’t start
This is something that probably has happened to most people. You get in the car and there is that annoying ticking sound when you turn the key and nothing happening. This is a sign that your battery is probably not good.
Try using jumper cables to get it going to get you home if this happens while on the road, but the minute you get back, you will want to check your battery. Even if your device at home tells you the battery is good, it is possible that it may not be enough volts for your car.
The engine does not crank, start, and there are no lights
This is the most obvious sign when your battery is dead. If you have no lights that come on when you turn your key, this is almost always the battery. Check your connections to the battery and try again, or even jump start it.
If it starts up after being connected to a battery charger, then it is time to get a new battery. Make sure the first thing you do is get yourself a new one.
Too many jump-starts
If you are in the habit of jump-starting your vehicle a little too often, then it is definitely time to get a new battery. Jump starting the battery can be bad for it and will eventually lead you down the road of needing a new starter or alternator because they are doing too much work.
Starts great one day, then does nothing the next
If starting your vehicle up each day is inconsistent, meaning it will start up some time and other times won’t, this is a good sign that your battery is failing.
First, you will want to check your connections and see if the terminals on the battery are failing. This means that you will see broken terminals, corrosion, or calcification on the terminals. You will want to get a new battery if you see this happening.
Cold weather cranking is difficult
There are two labels on the battery. One of them will refer to cold-cranking amps. These are responsible for the first start of the day, also known as cold-cranking. Most would think these means cold weather, but it does not always mean that.
When you start your car first thing in the morning, do you need to pump your gas pedal a couple of times, or turn the key a few more times? When it cranks, it is slow going before it kicks in. Now mind you in winter it will take a little more because of the cold weather, but on a good day, it should not do this all the time.
What is a Normal Battery Life?
How long do car batteries last? The life of a battery is not a simple thing to determine, however, generalizations on this can be made based on history and experience.
Car batteries age over time and will eventually fail. They will degrade or deteriorate until they can not provide the right charge any longer to run your vehicle.
People who use cars only part-time, meaning that they don’t run very long and sit for extended periods of time, will probably have batteries that won’t charge fully during each use. This can also do damage to the battery even though you might not think it would. If the battery cannot charge fully, it will over time begin to only charge to that point.
The chemical reaction batteries use to generate electricity is brought on by heat. This can, however, have an adverse effect on the life of the battery. If you live in a location that has extreme heat for most of the year this can lessen the life of the battery. To help reduce this problem, some manufacturers will install a heat shield around the battery.
Physical breakdown of a battery’s internal parts, like the plates inside the battery, can move around and cause the battery to fail. To help eliminate this problem, manufacturers of vehicles will put hardware in place to hold the battery from moving about. Sometimes these items can become loose or missing after falling off, so this will not hold down the battery.
How Much Does a Car Battery Cost
This will depend on where you go and what type of battery you get. It will also save you more money if you can replace the battery yourself instead of having someone do it for you. New batteries will run anywhere from $55 to $180 depending on where you go.
Replacing the dead car battery is somewhat easy, the biggest part of it is the weight of the battery you get. Batteries can weigh around 25-40lbs depending on the type and size you need to get for your vehicle. If your old battery is leaking acid and you are unsure of touching it or don’t want to take that chance, then have your mechanic do it for you.
Some newer models of vehicles have a monitoring system that is hooked up to the computer and will need to be reset once they put a new battery into it. This normally needs to be done at the dealership or your mechanic shop.
Care For Your Battery
Taking care of your battery will get more life out of it in the long run. This is something that you should add to your checks of the vehicle for regular maintenance. Try using the following tips to help extend your battery’s life.
- Prevent an engine or other components from putting a strain on the battery, therefore, get your regular car maintenance done.
- If you shut your vehicle off, don’t leave the lights on or the air conditioning. This will drain your battery and eventually will not let your battery fully charge.
- Try to get into your car at least once a week minimum to prevent the battery from getting too drained.
- If you go off-road riding or travel on dirt roads with potholes, make sure to check your connections once you get off the road.
- Keep the area your battery sits in clean and debris free so it does not affect the battery.
There you have it – your complete 101 guide on when to replace car battery. Your battery is one of the most important parts of your car, without it, it will not run or go anywhere. When you go to purchase your vehicle, make sure you are reading through the manual and checking all that is required for your battery. Getting stuck on the road because the car won’t start, or because you neglected your battery can cost a lot in the long run if you are not careful.
Do your research and be diligent in taking care of the battery.