Your car battery is an essential source of power to your car, and without it, you cannot use the vehicle. One of the biggest challenges with a car battery is when it goes flat.
How do you tell if your battery is flat? There are several tell signs of a flat battery;
- The engine produces a cranky sound when started, which indicates battery struggles.
- It may appear a bit cranky hence check for any signs of scaly build-up or battery leak on the terminals.
- Battery lights on the dashboard may light up, though this doesn’t always indicate a flat battery.
- The car may refuse to start.
The solution to a flat battery is not always getting a replacement. It is best to seek other remedies and only get a replacement if necessary.
What to do in case to suspect a flat battery
- First confirm if it is a flat battery case
Check on other possible issues before you settle on a flat battery. Ensure there is fuel in the tank. If a central lock isn’t functioning, it might be a case of a dead key fob; try using a spare key.
If the ignition doesn’t turn on, check the wheels are not jammed against the curb.
- Jumpstart your car
If you confirm it is likely an issue of a flat battery, the first step is to try jumpstarting your car. If the car won’t jumpstart, it is advisable to seek a professional or the manufacturer’s help.
- What do the experts do?
The first thing the professionals do is to establish why the battery went flat in the first place.
If they find it hard to figure out why the battery died or believe the battery is faulty, the experts go ahead and carry out a battery test.
After testing your car battery, these professionals will also;
- Check on your car’s charging system.
- Establish a fault that could have drained the battery.
- Partial charge the battery or replace it.
Testing the health of your car battery
After the car battery test, you will get a printout of the batteries readings, which are as listed below;
The different results can be:
- Good battery:
The reading is good, meaning the fault does not lie with a battery. In this case, check the car’s charging system to establish why it broke down.
- A bad cell:
Car batteries have several 2V batteries referred to as cells. If there is one not functioning, the entire battery will require replacement.
- Replace battery:
This reading is crystal clear, stating that the battery is no longer helpful and you should look for a replacement.
- Requires charging:
This result indicates that your battery is still in good condition, only requiring a full recharge. At this point, check the charging system to figure out what drained it.
Afterward, jumpstart the car to keep the engine going and then fully recharge the battery.
- Consider replacement:
The battery might have passed the test, but its life is coming to an end, meaning you should consider replacing the battery.
The time limit to replace your battery depends on how often you use your vehicle.
When is it time to replace your car battery?
There is no standard rule about how long a battery should last or when they need replacement. The approximate time a battery lasts is between 5 to 7 years.
However, some batteries fail after 2 to 3 years because of the car’s driving.
As a general rule, if the engine has started trouble before the battery is five years old, then it probably means:
- The car is making a lot of short journeys.
- There may be a vehicle fault that’s draining the battery or affecting the charge.
- The battery isn’t getting a full charge.
On the other hand, if the engine has trouble starting after the battery is five years old, then it could be that the battery’s exhausted and needs replacement.
Why do car batteries go flat?
The most common reason car batteries fail is that they do not get a chance to recharge fully.
Not giving the battery enough time to charge fully can halve the battery’s life. Taking this risk will cost you money and also cause your car to break down.
Nonetheless, improper recharge is not the only reason that causes a flat battery. Other common reasons for this problem include;
- Leaving the lights on.
- The car has been dormant for some time.
- A problem with a car’s charging system.
- A faulty component in the vehicle.
- The battery is faulty.
- Excessive vibration from the engine.
- Extreme temperatures; explaining why most cars won’t start during winter.
Another common problem comes with modern cars, which have several power-hungry electronics than older cars.
For instance, the infotainment systems, seat heaters, USB plugs, built-in sat navs strain the battery.
How to maintain a healthy car battery
There are several ways you can avoid dealing with a flat battery and keep it serving you for longer.
Going for regular drives
Driving for at least 30 minutes or more will help the battery recharge.
Purchase an intelligent charger
If you do not frequently drive your vehicle, you can have the intelligent charger connected most of the time to minimize the possibility of damaging the battery.
Use a solar charger
A solar charger will not charge a flat battery though it will keep the battery charge if you do not use the car as much.
Turn off all the electricals
Any electrical like the heaters, stereo, windscreen wipers ensure they are all off when you park or start the car. Only to have them on when necessary to prevent battery strain.
Dip the clutch
Dipping the clutch as you start the vehicle helps to take some load off the battery and the starter, thus preventing any form of damage.
A flat battery is one of the common reasons why most vehicles break down. With the tips provided in the article, you can prevent a flat battery and, consequently, a breakdown.
Follow the steps provided to restore your vehicle and return to the road in case of a breakdown.