In any vehicle, arguably the most important component of all is the battery. Unless your car starts with a hand crank, it’s likely that it has a battery tucked away somewhere powering the electricals onboard. Likewise, being such a crucial element that plays an imperative role in any car, if it’s going bad it would have serious adverse implications on the normal operation of a vehicle. In fact, a battery that’s failing would be a ticking time bomb that’ll leave your car unable to start any time soon. As car batteries generally begin to fail with age, it would be prudent for you to know the symptoms of a spoiling car battery.
This is one of the early signs of a battery that’s beginning to go bad, and sometimes it’s quite subliminal and difficult to detect. Your starter may be taking a bit more effort to start the car and sustain an idle, with the effect amplified in the cold. There is generally an audible cue to this, as the cranking speed slows down to a degree. The cranking action feels sluggish and feeble, in a sense.
It may be easy to tell there’s a fault when your car outright refuses to start in the cold, and it’s not until that one morning where you’re running late that the issue rears its head. However, if you keep on cranking it, the car may start just fine eventually as the continuous sustained cranking action begins to heat up the car, reducing starting effort.
Sometimes it may take an even shorter interval for the car to refuse to start. It can start fine just this moment but refuse to start the next time around. This is one telltale indication that your car battery is failing, as it just won’t hold a proper charge anymore. Typically speaking, a car battery in fine condition should manage to start even after sitting idle for over one week, and a quality one can start a car even one month later without being charged.
However, a bad battery can bleed charge so quickly that it will not provide enough juice to start a vehicle after an hour or two. Of course, this can also reveal as an issue in the form of corroded cables or a problematic charging system, but you should definitely get the battery checked by a mechanic
If you have a battery that can’t retain a charge, the problem can also be reflected during driving. Most of a vehicle’s sensors and engine electricals rely on a steady 12V power supply from the battery, and if the battery isn’t able to maintain a constant electrical supply your car may behave peculiarly.
You may begin to notice an occasional hiccup during idling. In more serious cases, the radio and some of the accessories, climate control in particular, may cut out intermittently. At times, you may also hear the accessory belt squeaking during high load conditions as the alternator struggles to keep the battery charged.
Sometimes the issues doesn’t need to manifest in the vehicle itself. You may be able to detect any potential trouble just by looking at the battery. Check and ensure the terminals are free of corrosion and make sure that the battery casing is fine.
If the casing itself is swelled or bloated, it means that the battery is overheating and its a potential chemical hazard. Also, take a look at the fluid levels, most wet cell battery should have a translucent casing that allows you to observe the fluid level. The fluid shouldn’t need frequent refills, if at all.
With all that said, it’s worth noting that issues with the battery and charging system often go hand in hand, and they should always be checked at once. Sometimes the problem may lie even deeper. However, your battery should always be kept in tip top shape for your vehicle to function normally. A car battery’s life expectancy is around 3 to 4 years, and you should definitely have the condition checked by then.