When your car battery fails once, you might be tempted to dismiss it as an isolated incident. There are countless possible causes for car batteries to expire, and there is always a chance that whatever went wrong won’t happen again. However, it’s a pretty safe bet that there’s an underlying issue that has to be addressed before you end up stuck somewhere if your car battery continues dying repeatedly.
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Why Do Car Batteries Die?
The list of problems that can kill a car battery is incredibly vast and seems to go on forever, but almost every battery killer can be grouped into one of three categories: battery issues, electrical system issues, or simple user mistakes. There are some of them that can be handled at home, while others will undoubtedly need a trip to your mechanic, but you won’t know for sure until you get your hands dirty and start working.
It’s also crucial to remember that when most people discuss a battery dying repeatedly, they usually refer to a scenario in which the car won’t start after being left parked for any period of time. It’s more likely that you have a charging system issue if your battery suddenly seems to die while you’re driving.
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What Leads to a Car Battery Dying Constantly?
A car battery can fail frequently for a variety of reasons, including loose or corroded battery connections, ongoing electrical drains, charging issues, a need for more power than the alternator can supply, and even inclement weather. Some of these issues are sufficient to kill a battery on their own, while others are typically present in a battery that is already weak or towards the end of its life.
1. Parasitic Drain
The simple act of draining a car battery even after the motor has been shut off is known as a parasitic drain or parasitic draw. This continuous drain on the automobile battery is typically caused by an electrical issue or wiring issue when some electrical components within the vehicle fail to shut down. It is crucial to check for this kind of battery drain because it can gradually but significantly drain your car’s battery. Additionally, this can be a sign of a bad battery installation or a blown fuse in the electrical system.
2. Defective Alternator
The alternator is responsible for mechanically recharging the battery while the engine is running once the battery disengages. The alternator is in charge of maintaining the functionality of every electrical system in the automobile, including the lights, infotainment system, air conditioning, etc. in addition to charging the battery.
The alternator won’t be able to fully recharge the battery if it has a bad diode, and its subpar performance will be evident in the failure of other electrical parts of the car. It may be a sign of a failing alternator if the electrical components are fine when the car is idle but begin to sputter once you start to drive.
3. Local Charger
There is no better way to quickly drain your automobile battery than by using a nearby charger. Using nearby trickle chargers to maximize the life of your battery could have the opposite effect of what you want. Most chargers include a built-in technology that recognizes when your battery is ready to run out of juice and turns off the excess current flow. Some trickle chargers also have this feature.
Local or malfunctioning chargers carry out the fundamental task of feeding current into a battery without considering the standards, charge levels, etc. These chargers could result in a dead car battery in addition to providing a subpar charge.
4. Leaving the lights on
It’s human to make mistakes… This is probably the biggest cause of overnight battery depletion and by far one of the most frequent ones. We can all relate to forgetting to switch the lights off after a late-night outing. It is suggested that you turn on the interior and outdoor lights for no more than five to six hours. Any power usage above that could result in the car battery being undercharged, although a fully lit automobile for 10 to 12 hours is enough to completely drain the battery.
Nowadays, the majority of brand-new vehicles include a light alert feature, and some even have an auto-deactivation feature. However, you should never neglect to check if the lights are still on because it’s not enjoyable to discover a dead battery when you’re running late for work.
5. Faulty Charging system
The charging mechanism uses mechanical energy from the driving vehicle to recharge the battery once the engine is cranking, which consumes a significant amount of battery power. The main cause of the decline in charging rate is worn-out belts and tensioners.
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6. Old Battery
The car battery struggles to maintain a charge and loses its ability to function at its best as it ages, just like anything else. A new battery holds its charge longer before an old one does. If your car continually performs below average and cannot zap with enough power to start the car, the hastened drain may not be caused by an external factor, but may instead be the result of the battery’s numbered days running out and necessitating replacement. Though its actual lifespan is influenced by a variety of outside circumstances, you should typically replace the batteries every 4-5 years.
7. Loose Or Corroded Battery Cables
The battery cables serve as the conduit through which power is sent from the battery to the car. The smooth passage of electricity will be hampered and the battery’s output will be lowered if these positive and negative connections are shaken loose or accumulate corrosion. While corrosion of the terminals can be brought on by either overcharging or a release of hydrogen from the sulfuric acid present in the battery fluid, loose cables are typically brought on by vibrations, bumps, and rattling of the battery, usually from an uneven and bumpy road.
Connectors that are corroded or poorly fastened can result in a variety of issues, including an inability to start the engine, flickering lights, and even damage to the electronic components. Every two to three months, we advise inspecting the battery connectors and caring for the battery properly.
8. Short Trips
The alternator continuously recharges the battery while the engine is operating after the battery has started it. The life of a car battery, however, may be shortened if the engine is turned off in a relatively short period of time, which is not long enough for the battery to recover the power it has lost.
Short-distance commuters frequently experience this battery problem. To fully recharge the battery, it is advisable to take at least one long journey every two to three weeks.
9. Extreme Temperatures
Extremes of heat or cold might lower your battery’s capacity to store charge. In the battery, high and low temperatures often lead to the creation of sulfate crystals, which spread throughout the device and cause havoc with the system. Heat and cold can cause the battery to lose some of its power capacity if they are both applied for an extended period of time.
We advise avoiding acute temperature exposure as much as possible to prevent a quicker drain on your automobile battery. The impacts of the weather are lessened by parking in the shade in the summer and by driving frequently and far in the winter.
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Checking Headlights, Dome Lights, and Other Accessories
When the engine is off, car batteries are intended to power headlights, dome lights, and a variety of other accessories, but they have a highly constrained capacity to do so. This means that if anything is left on after the engine has been turned off, the battery will most likely discharge.
Even a small interior dome light can drain a battery completely overnight, but leaving the headlights on can destroy a weak battery in the time it takes to complete a quick task like grocery shopping. Therefore, if you’re dealing with a battery that keeps going dead, it’s best to check it out at night while it’s dark outside because a dimmed or faint dome light will be easier to spot.
Some more recent models of cars are also made such that once you turn off the engine and remove the keys, the headlights, dome lights, or even the radio stay on for a while. When everything is functioning properly, you can leave a car like this and everything will turn off on its own accord. Your battery is probably dying if you return after a half-hour or an hour and things like the headlights are still on.
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Maintaining and Testing a Car Battery
The next item to examine is the battery itself if nothing obvious, such as headlights or a dome light left on, is visible. Basic battery maintenance can prevent a lot of issues, and an unmaintained battery won’t keep a charge as well as it did when it was new.
Make sure that each cell of your battery is adequately filled with electrolytes if it isn’t sealed. An issue exists if you peek inside the cells and notice that the electrolyte level has fallen below the tops of the lead plates.
Distilled water should be used to top off battery cells, although depending on your location’s water quality, drinking directly from the tap is typically fine. A hydrometer, which costs nothing and allows you to determine the specific gravity of the electrolyte in each cell, can also be used to test your batteries. After the battery has been fully charged, if one or more cells are extremely low, that is a warning that the battery needs to be replaced.
Using a load tester, a more pricey instrument, is another option to examine your battery. With the help of this tool, you can monitor the battery voltage with and without a load applied to it, simulating the draw of a starter motor. If you don’t have a load tester, some businesses and parts stores will load test your batteries for no charge, while others will charge a small cost.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that internal battery shorts can explode in the correct circumstances if you decide to purchase your own load tester. Wearing safety equipment is crucial when working near a battery because of this.
Checking for Loose or Corroded Car Battery Connections
You might spot corrosion around the battery terminals, wires, or connectors when you visually inspect your battery. In certain cases, corrosion may not even be apparent, or it may appear as huge white, blue, or green blooms of corroded material.
The capacity of the starter motor to draw current from the battery and the ability of the charging system to top the battery off will be hampered if any corrosion is present between your battery terminals and cable connectors.
Dealing With Extreme Weather, Charging System Problems, and Weak Batteries
Extreme temperatures can also cause problems for your battery, but often only if the battery is already weak. If you test the batteries and it passes muster, and the connections are secure and free of debris, the weather shouldn’t be the reason it keeps going dead.
A battery can continually discharge due to issues with the charging system, albeit you will typically also have some drivability issues. The alternator belt is a simple item that you can examine at home; it has to be relatively taut and free of cracks. The alternator may not be able to provide enough power if the belt appears to be loose to run everything else and the battery at the same time.
How to Keep Your Battery From Repeatedly Dying
A lead-acid battery, like the one in your car, has to ultimately expire, but you may extend its life by keeping it well-maintained and in good working condition. There is a good likelihood that each time your battery dies in this manner, the battery’s overall lifespan will be reduced if you are dealing with a circumstance where it keeps going dead.
You can actually extend the life of your battery by controlling corrosion, ensuring that the battery connections are tight and secure, and preventing the electrolyte level in a non-sealed battery from dropping.
You may not be able to prevent certain problems, such as an unexpected parasitic drain, but you may help your battery last longer by promptly addressing concerns of that nature. If you live somewhere that gets particularly cold or if you don’t intend to use your car for an extended period of time, a battery tender can also be helpful.