Many people don’t care about knowing the mechanical side of how their cars get going. That’s fine – after all, that’s what mechanics are for! But sometimes you should be able to listen to what your car is trying to tell you. For example, when it comes to the car battery. This component is the lifeblood of your car: it’s integral for starting the engine, and it also powers all the electrical components (for example, radio!). As such, it is bound to weaken over time, and you’ll have to replace it eventually. If you’re careful about the symptoms, you’ll know when to do it exactly – and save yourself the trouble of staying in the middle of nowhere with a car that just won’t go.
1. Your Engine Starts Slow
This is a tell-tale sign it might be time for a new battery. The battery produces all the power needed for the car to get started – that’s a lot of power! As time goes by, the components making up your car battery wear out and thus become less effective. This results in the battery taking extra time to create a charge for the starter, leaving you waiting more than usual for the engine to turn over. It’s important you take this as a sign of a soon-to-be-dead battery so you can have it tested and replaced if needed.
2. Warning Light on the Dashboard
Most cars come with a dashboard warning light, usually shaped as a battery. If there is a problem with the battery, or if it’s not appropriately replenished, this sign will lighten up. This can also signify that something is wrong with some of the parts of the electrical system. If you see the warning light on your dashboard, take your car to have it checked by a professional. He or she will be able to tell you what the problem is.
3. Swollen Battery Case
If your battery is exposed to excessive amounts of heat or cold, the flat sides of the battery case can swell. For example, extreme heat in the summer can cause the case to swell and crack (remember physics classes – hotness causes objects to expand?). On the other hand, if the vehicle hasn’t been driven for some time in the winter, the battery can discharge and freeze – but that won’t happen much around here! Anyway, a battery frozen or swollen from heat often cannot be recovered and needs replacement. Find a reliable service offering car batteries replacement in Sydney, and you’re good to go.
4. Electrical Issues
Apart from powering the engine, the battery powers all the other electronics in your car, from your lights to the radio and the dashboard. If the battery is losing its charge, it will be more difficult for it to run these things as usual. So if your lights are dim or you’re having issues with the dashboard, it might be the time to replace the battery. Remember, the more things you plug into your car while driving, the faster the battery will die. This means you shouldn’t rely on your car to charge your phone!
5. Corroded Connectors
Battery leak can cause the corrosion around the posts – where the positive and negative metal connections are located. You’ll notice a white substance on the metal parts of your battery, and this is a bad sign, as it can lead to issues with voltage, as well as troubles starting your car.
6. Bad Smell
If you smell rotten eggs when you open the hood, get ready to call the mechanic! A battery that is overcharged or shorted internally will cause the case to vent that awful smelling gas. But the smell isn’t the only bad thing here – the sulphuric acid can eat away other parts of the engine, causing corrosion. Prevent that from happening by taking your car to get checked as soon as possible.
7. Old Age
A car battery usually lasts about four to five years, depending on many factors, like exposure to extreme weather, number of deep discharges, and if it goes through full charge cycles. If your battery is three or four years old, it’s good to take a look at it and have it inspected on a yearly basis.
Taking good care of your battery might not bring it to ten years (let’s be realistic, okay), but if you know where to look, you’ll be able to prevent further damage and just that unfortunate event of having to call someone to pick you up because your car won’t start. Learn to recognise a failing battery, get it tested, and enjoy the ride!