How do you know if your battery is going bad?
The first indication is that you’re getting a slow crank or that your battery light is flashing or staying on. Keep in mind, that could also be a sign that the alternator is going bad. But usually the battery is the first place to check.
Here are some common problems that we see going on with the battery.
Possible battery problem
Drivers not having a battery hold down is one of them. It’s important to securely keep the battery in place.
Believe it or not, that $15 to $50 battery hold down – depending on the type of vehicle you have – is actually very important, not only for state inspections but also so your battery doesn’t go bad.
Some people will try to hold them in with bungee cords, but it just doesn’t work. If it’s able to bounce up and down while you’re driving, the plates can break or become separated. The glass that separates the plates on glass mat batteries may also break and cause problems.
Corrosion on the battery terminals is another battery problem. A little bit of acid seeps up from those batteries due to the electrons going through. The type of metal that the battery cables and the battery materials are made out of start to corrode and appear as though someone poured baking soda on it. That corrosion not only gets between the terminal and the battery cable That restricts the amount of electricity that’s able to flow through to the starter or the car, and if the alternator is trying to charge it up the power can’t get back to the battery.
The life of the battery may also be impacted when you use cheap, universal battery terminals. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great when you’re working on an older vehicle or trying to get down the road after a cable breaks. We’ve used them for years. However, if you don’t protect them and use battery sealant, moisture can get in and cause the battery cable going into the terminal to corrode or rust.
How to maintain a car battery
When you think you have a battery problem, you should visit a nearby repair shop, and they can perform a battery test. Our technicians conduct battery tests as part of our courtesy inspections.
You should make sure the auto repair shop you go to is using a good tester. There are a lot of cheap ones on the market, but it’s important that the battery tester they have is able to check many different types of batteries. The universal testers may indicate that your battery is bad when it isn’t.
Certain models, such as Mercedes, use an auxiliary 12 volt battery that has to do with brakes or other subsystems. So you could have a 12 volt battery for the car, another 12 volt battery for the brakes, and on some hybrids you may have a hybrid battery. For the electrical system on most vehicles, it’s the 12 volt that’s experiencing a battery problem.
Some batteries that are serviceable do use battery water. In a pinch, just use distilled water. You can’t do anything on the ones that are sealed up. Certain car batteries contain a battery eye, which is a clear disc that will show green or red and let you know if it’s bad.
A good battery will last four to six years, depending on the climate and where the battery was produced. A cheap battery may not last as long. Sometimes they go bad, due to age. They only last so long.
HomeTowne Auto Repair uses Interstate Batteries, because of the way they are constructed, the warranty that comes with them, and we know – with experience – the batteries last a while.
When you replace the batteries, you will want to place corrosion pads underneath the terminal. These help prevent corrosion from building up.
Helpful tip: Say you’re at home and your car’s not starting. You can tell it has a little bit of power, you open the hood, and you notice you have a lot of corrosion on your battery terminals. You pour some baking soda and water (mixed together) on the corrosion. Also, believe it or not, a can of coca cola will sort of do the same thing. You just need to make sure to wash all the sugar off. So, if you use one of those two options and a wire brush or a piece of sandpaper to clean inside the terminal it may be just enough to get it cleaned up and create a connection so you can start your car. These are just some things you can do in a pinch
HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.