How to tell if your vehicle battery is going bad.
1. Slow Engine Crank
When you put the key in your vehicles ignition and turn it, the battery power is what starts the engine. So if it is close to dying, you may notice that the engine cranks more slowly than usual. It’s important that you pick up on the warning sign as you may only get one shot at a slow start before the engine refuses to crank again. If the engine does not crank at all, the vehicle will often just make a fast paced clicking sound, signaling the power from the battery is too low to crank the engine. Have it tested as soon as possible and replaced if needed.
2. Dimming or Weird Issues with Electrical components
If any of your vehicle’s electronic components start to act up or function erratically, first check for power loss due to corroded terminals. If all seems clean, it might be time for a replacement. Pay special attention to when you use more than one component at a time. For example, if you switch on the radio while using the headlights and the headlights go dim, the battery might not be up to snuff anymore.
3. Dashboard Warning Light
Most vehicles have a warning light on the dash, usually in the shape of a battery. This will illuminate if the battery is not being replenished properly or if there is an internal problem with the battery. Similar to the check engine or maintenance light, the warning light might also mean that something is wrong with the alternator or some other part of the electrical system. If the light comes on, the best course of action would be to have your vehicle’s electrical system checked by a certified professional to determine what exactly the problem is.
3. Swollen Battery Case
A vehicles battery is basically a chemical reaction contained in a box. As with any chemical reaction, sometimes things can go wrong. When it is exposed to excessive amounts of heat or cold, the flat sides of the battery case may swell or bulge. If for example when batteries sit in a vehicle that is not driven for some time in the summer, it will swell. Swelling from excess heat often result in an electrically “dead” battery that cannot be recovered and will require replacement.
4. Old Age
On average, car batteries lasts about four to five years. In Arizona three is probably the maximum. This average lifespan will fluctuate depending on extreme temperature exposure, number of deep discharges and whether or not it goes through full charge cycles. That being said, five years is how much life most batteries have so once you hit the 4-year mark, it might not be a bad idea to get it tested to see how much life it has left. If you are not sure how old the battery is, you should be able to find the manufacture date on the batteries case.
5. Weird Smell
When a battery has been frozen, overcharged or is shorted internally its case may vent gas. This venting often smells like rotten eggs. If you happen to detect a rotten egg scent under the hood of your vehicle, have your battery inspected as soon as possible because in addition to possibly needing to be replaced, the sulfuric acid can eat away at other engine parts, causing corrosion, which is something you want to avoid at all costs.