When is Your Car’s Battery Too Old?

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When Car’s Battery is simply too Old:

In normal use, a car’s battery should last over 5 years. But since they fail quickly once they begin to travel, here are some warning signs.

 

Warning Lights on Dash:

Has the limited battery shaped red light appeared on your dash? This doesn’t always mean the battery is faulty, but it does mean something in the charging system is out of sorts. It could mean the battery was undercharging or overcharging, and it might be another alternator, transformer, or battery issue, or simply a loose or broken connection somewhere.

 

Slow Cranking in Hot or Cold:

One of the primary warnings that your battery is on its way out is how it performs when the weather turns hot or cold. In atmospheric conditions, the chemical action doesn’t produce quite the maximum amount of power, and on top of that, the engine is harder to crank over, so a marginal battery might not be able to turn the starter in the slightest degree.

 

Slow Cranking After Sitting:

If you reside somewhere with a moderate temperature all year, it should never be cold enough to affect the cranking power. But otherwise, batteries fail is one cell at a time, and with a “bad cell” you may notice the car is slow to start after sitting night, or while you’re at work.

 

Terminal Failure:

Your battery can be perfectly fine internally, but if the terminals or the cable ends are covered in corrosion and oxidation, or simply have a tough time clamping, the battery’s power could be a moot point. Your terminals must be tight, clean, and free from grease, dirt, or the other detritus to supply full amperage from the battery to the starter.

 

​Inspect the Box:

The battery is a plastic box, holding some pretty nasty stuff inside it. The plastic should outlast the things inside, but it can crack because of impact, or exposure to extreme heat, or freezing. Inspect the outside of the battery for cracks, wet spots, or bulges with a lightweight.

Make sure the caps on top of the battery are intact, and on tightly still. Modern batteries are “sealed” and do not have to be topped up with water like they did 40 years ago.

 

Multimeter Check:

One of the most effective ways to check the battery and also the rest of the charging system is to use a multimeter. An good battery should measure at over 12.5 volts between the terminals.

You can also use the multimeter to see if the battery holds a charge, by testing it and testing it again an hour later. A decent battery should have almost no difference, whether or not tested after an overnight rest.

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