A very long time ago, car batteries required the owner to check the electrolyte fluid level regularly, topping up as necessary. Terminals would be greased and connections tightened but even then some other component of the car would still cause the battery to go flat, often times leaving the driver stranded.
In today’s modern world, the knowledge of how to check a battery has vanished into the mists of time, like how to skin a dodo. Fortunately most modern batteries do not require servicing and are designed to run faultlessly for two or three years and often more; until the day they don’t. As with humans, age affects performance and a battery has to power all the accessories, lights, and all the other electrical equipment or toys in the vehicle, so how do you know when a replacement is required?
Your battery has a critical job, and that is to get your car up and running and it takes a lot of power to get a motor on the move. Once a car is running, it is the alternator that takes care of recharging and runs all the accessories and personal items that we accumulate these days. These might be phone and tablet chargers, satellite navigation, stop/start technology, apps and the like. The battery has to oversee all of this
An engine should start briskly without delay; if the starter motor labours, sounds sluggish or fails to crank the engine or if all that’s heard is the clicking sound of doom, well, there is not enough charge in the battery to cope. All these things are indicative of a dying battery but the point is, the only things that can cause these problems are either battery age or a fault on the engine.
If the car is completely dead, no lights working for example, then your car battery is the first place to look. Also though, at this point it is worth bearing in mind that if the owner cannot even switch on the lights or turn over the engine, it might well be a problem with the alternator, the device that recharges the battery. Further, if the engine will not start but the lights and electrics are working, the fault might be a more complex problem such as the starter motor or a mechanical issue within the engine itself.
If you find that problems are intermittent, it’s often a sign of one of a couple of things. In the first case, it’s possible that there’s something going on with your battery terminals – they’re perhaps loose, broken, corroded or calcified. This happens on many batteries after a period of time, especially when they’re exposed to extremes of heat or cold.
The second case is that you may have what’s known as a “parasitic draw” – the power from your battery is being drained by something that shouldn’t be drawing power. It could be something like a satnav that’s remaining on when it’s supposed to be off, or it could be that a wire elsewhere, maybe in your electrical loom or near the engine, has worked loose and is touching something that it shouldn’t.
Parasitic draws are pretty common. A key indicator is that the car is fine if you drive daily, but fails to start if you leave it for a day or so. If you’re mechanically inclined, check your alternator, accessory lights, radio, alarm, lights, fuses and anything else that might be secretly draining your battery. Or bring your car your friendly local garage.
Battery Warning Lights
All too often the warning lights on the dashboard are ignored, as if they’ll go away of their own accord. That old faithful, the “check engine” light could signify other electrical problems which may well have an impact on the battery. Warning lights rarely come on for no reason, so make sure you get it checked out.
If the vehicle starts exhibiting starting issues or other electrical gremlins then the battery might be at fault but before rushing off to buy a new one, consider all the options first, especially if the car is of recent vintage. So the first port of call should be the local, trusted car servicing garage. Keep everything serviced, that’s the key thing. The battery relies on several other components such as the alternator, starter, solenoid, the terminals, and the cables. If any of these are not working properly or are damaged, it can affect the battery life and ultimately lead to lots of little problems adding up to a big repair bill.
Any worries you have with your battery please get in touch with Baileys Garage, Bracknell and we will take a look for you.