How to Check for Problems with Your Car Battery

Posted on

One of the most important components in your car is its battery. You could say that this is the heart of the vehicle and it must be maintained in tiptop order. It's simply not advisable to 'wing it' when it comes to either the maintenance of the battery or the money that you invest in replacing the battery itself. All manner of problems can and do arise when the battery is in poor condition, as other electrical and performance issues can manifest themselves, which could all be traced back to battery condition. What are the four main signs you should look for to indicate that you need to replace your battery?

Cranks But Won't Start

If the engine cranks over but won't start, this could be one of two problems. It could be a faulty starter, but more often than not it is likely to be the battery. Technically, this may mean that the battery is not producing enough current and delivering the right amount of voltage to generate the current properly. While you can certainly get away with using jumper cables from another vehicle to get going right now, you shouldn't risk being stranded somewhere tomorrow and should replace the battery as soon as possible.

Dead as a Dodo

If you find that nothing happens at all when you turn over the key and that you have no lights or other signs of life, then this is likely a battery that has gone to the afterlife. Not only should you change car batteries in this case, but you should also have a look at the alternator as that can sometimes be damaged when the battery fails.

Cables and Terminals

If you seem to have an intermittent problem where the car will start okay one day but not the next, then the first thing to do is have a look at the battery cables and terminals. Open the bonnet and physically check that the cables are still firmly attached to the battery posts. There should be no play whatsoever. If you see evidence of any fraying then the cables need to be replaced. If you see a whitish/green substance around the terminals then this needs to be carefully removed with a wire brush before replacing the cables.

Cold Cranking

You shouldn't be quick to judge the health of your battery in cold conditions. You should be aware that it's quite normal for a vehicle to start with some difficulty in the dead of winter as the oil within the engine is of a different consistency and it is more difficult for the petrol to vaporise in the engine. Nevertheless, check to see if you have the correct specification of battery fitted to your particular vehicle. Have a look for your vehicle online to see what the manufacturer recommends as far as cold cranking amps for your battery and then have a look at the side of the battery itself to make sure that these figures match.