The battery is one of the most important parts of a vehicle. Without it, your car won't be able to start, and you won't be able to go anywhere. Depending on the brand and model of the battery, these can usually last for a good few years. It's also the reason why these are often overlooked during regular maintenance.
But like a regular AA battery you'd find in your TV's remote, car batteries need to be replaced too. The last thing you want is to wake up in the morning and have a car that won't start because the battery is dead. Worse, the battery goes flat when you're not at home. While you can ask for a jump, it's still quite a hassle.
Fortunately, a car battery doesn't just go flat overnight. There are a few signs that you should look out for. If you see the battery light on, that's already one. In newer cars with modern instrument clusters, you might be able to visually check the voltage level of the battery too. However, not all vehicles come with a built-in voltmeter.
Below we'll list a few signs that could be indications of your battery about to go flat.
Does your vehicle take longer to start compared to before? That could be one of the best indicators that your battery is on the way out. Like a regular battery, car batteries wear out over time and become less effective. If you have a hard time turning over the engine, that means the battery doesn't have as much charge as before. Should that be the case, maybe it's time to replace the battery.
Do note that hard starting isn't always the result of a weak battery. Sometimes, other components could be the reason. These can include the starter, ignition, spark plugs, and more. If you have replaced the battery, and the engine still has difficulty starting, then it is probably time to visit a mechanic or your dealership's service center.
When your battery starts to go, nearly all electrical components of your vehicle will be affected. One sign to look out for is the lights – whether it's headlights or the interior cabin lights. You may notice that they're a lot dimmer than usual when at idle but brighten the moment you start accelerating. It's a sign that the battery isn't holding charge anymore, and you should have it replaced.
If this happens to your vehicle, it would be best to test the alternator too. It might not be charging the battery enough to hold voltage. At the same time, it would give you peace of mind that the electrical system in your vehicle is in good condition and won't be a problem in the future.
One quick test to see if your battery is on the way out is by using the power windows and door locks while the engine is turned off. If these don't respond as quickly as before, it is likely an indication that the battery is struggling to power them properly. It's the same story if your vehicle has electric-powered seats. Check the instrument cluster too. If you notice the dashboard lights flickering, it could be a sign of a weak battery.
For the windows, be sure that it's not an issue with the window motor or a physical blockage causing the slow response. Either way, if the windows are noticeably slower going up or down compared to before, it's time to have the battery and electrical system checked.
Corrosion on the battery
This should be a no-brainer. Pop the hood, and physically inspect the battery to see if there are any leakages or warp. If there's a powdery white or blue substance near the terminals, that means there is corrosion. A little bit of corrosion isn't bad. It is caused by a chemical reaction between the gases or liquid that come into contact with the terminal. But if there's a lot of corrosion, then it's time to get a new one.
The battery is old
The subject of battery life is a very debatable topic. Some batteries can last for five or even seven years before needing replacement, while others already conk out at just three years or even less. Whatever the case, it's best to incorporate a battery check every time you do your regular maintenance once your battery is at least two years old. That way, you can be sure the battery in your vehicle will still be good to go.
Don't remember the last time you replaced the battery in your vehicle? Then maybe it's also time to buy a new one, assuming there are signs it's no longer carrying the same charge before.
Replacing your car battery with a new one might be expensive, but it will save you a lot of trouble in the long run. You wouldn't want to be stranded somewhere asking for a jump start, right? Besides, if it lasts a very long time then it should be worth it.