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One of the worst-case scenarios that you can imagine when using any form of transportation is being stuck on the road in the middle of nowhere. Often times the culprit is your car battery when something nightmarish like this happens.
Even though there’s no clear consensus on how often you should change your car battery to avoid this unpleasant sequence of events, there are some good indications and warnings if it’s going to give up on you soon. If you buy a new car battery you should be carefree and blithe for about 3-6 years, depending on the research.
This battery life-span is directly dependent on many different things. For example, the way you drive your vehicle influences a lot of things and a car battery is no exception to this.
Here are a few simple tips on how to tell if your car battery is about to die or is draining quicker than it should be.
Human Element and the So-Called ’Parasitic Drains’
We’ve already given you the hint that your car battery life depends on how you use and drive your vehicle in general. If you’re prone to forgetting things like turning off your lights when you finish driving, there is a good chance that your battery is suffering. You will slowly but surely drain your battery if it happens frequently that you leave the radio or the lights on. This is inevitably going to produce wear and tear on your battery. As a result, it gets more and more drained until one day you simply won’t be able to start your car.
The so-called ’parasitic drains’ are the ones that happen when there are some components that continue to drain the battery even if they are off. These parasitic drains are unavoidable and unpreventable to some extent. Things like a security alarm, clock, radio presets can cause these minor drain-aways. But the much larger complications and annoyances happen when, or if, you realize that you actually have a bigger electrical problem that needs to be taken care of immediately.
Slow Engine Start – Crank
The good thing is that there are some distinct and downright clear signs and symptoms that are going to warn you if the battery won’t hold much longer. One of them and probably the first one to notice is slow engine start – crank.
If the engine takes longer to start and is kind of lagging and torpid while driving, it’s a good indication that your battery is leaking or is about to shut off. Now, it doesn’t mean that this is a 100% to blame on your battery – it might also be your starter or something else for that matter – but if the engine actually manages to start, but the lights won’t turn on, then this is a pretty good sign that the battery is dying.
Check the Battery Fluid Level Regularly
Whether you’re suspecting or not that your car battery might be holding on to its last breath, you always want to check the fluid level regularly. This is one of those DIY things that you can easily perform.
What you also want to do is learn to recognize if there’s a swelling or if the battery case is bloating. If you sense the strong ’rotten eggs’-like smell (it’s sulfur, by the way) around your car battery, it’s probably because there’s a battery leakage somewhere. In case you notice these things, you should definitely consider auto battery replacement, because these signs clearly signify that there’s something suspiciously wrong with your car battery.
Frequently Jump-Starting Your Car
Another good manifestation and evidence that your auto battery’s life is nearing its end are frequent jump starts.
However, you should also keep in mind that if you find yourself jump-starting the car fairly often, it can also be an indication that your alternator is broken. Car battery problems can sometimes be mistaken for alternator malfunction.
You can find out without too much difficulty what causes you to jump-start the car recurrently. In case you see a battery light suddenly blinking while you’re driving then it’s probably the alternator. Another forewarning that your alternator is dead is if you start the car and continue to drive without major hiccups and then the car just stops abruptly. People often times blame the car battery when it’s actually the broken alternator what’s causing them trouble.
So, there you have it: some simple tips on how to recognize if you’re in danger of being left somewhere on the road because your car battery is drained, leaking and about to die. Make sure to check the battery fairly regularly and opt for replacing it if you notice that there are leaks, case bloating or any other damages that could potentially ruin your plans and cost you the time, the money and the nerves as well.
Featured image: unsplash