How Do I Know When My Car Needs A New Battery?

If you’ve been driving the same car for a couple years, you might be starting to wonder how long you can get by on your first battery and set of tires. The good news is, both are relatively easy to check out, but the battery does take a little more preparation than the tires, which can just be visually inspected. There are a few ways to tell if it’s about time to invest in a new battery, other than waiting for it to fail.

Scheduled Replacement

Many auto owners opt to schedule battery replacements to avoid the issue of a dead battery completely, buying a replacement when the old one is about a year past its warranty expiration. While this is an option that helps minimize the issue of checking on a battery’s health, it’s not one everyone can afford. Nor is it perfect, since batteries can fail for unclear reasons, which is why they have warranties in the first place. It’s rare, but it does happen. So what else can you do? Check for signs of lowered car battery performance.

It’s Time for a New Car Battery When You Notice:

This list isn’t comprehensive, but it does contain most of the important signs of diminishing battery performance. If you suspect your battery is on the downward slide, you can get it tested for free at the same store you head to when you need help with a VIN lookup. Now, here are the signs:

  • Braking causes headlamps to dim, but acceleration causes them to perk up again
  • The starter takes longer to engage and sounds sluggish, especially the day after a drive that used a lot of accessory power
  • Dimming headlamps when the stereo volume is increased drastically
  • Dimming dash backlights during braking

If you’re seeing any of these signs, don’t wait for more to crop up. Get your battery tested to rule out related issues like a faulty alternator or voltage regulator, then replace it promptly if your battery is on its last legs. It’s also a good idea to put it on a battery charger intermittently until you can swing the replacement. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to have one on hand against the odd alternator failure or forgotten headlights. A good battery can look bad if an outside draw winds up draining it before your next ride.

How Can I Charge My Current Car Battery?

Luckily, the battery is one of the easiest parts on a car to replace. There are times it can be a hassle, but mostly that happens when the connectors and the stabilizer screw have accumulated corrosion. If you keep them clean, it’s as easy as loosening that screw, disconnecting the terminals, and then putting a new one in its place and tightening everything back down. When you need to charge it, you can do so by disconnecting the terminals and removing the battery, then connecting it to the charger via the gator clips on the wires. Black to black, red to red. After it’s had charging time, just put it in like a replacement battery and fire up the engine to make sure it’s got enough charge to start.