You’re frantically exiting your front door, late for an appointment. Eager to hit the road and get back on schedule, you launch into your vehicle and try starting it up just to hear that troublesome whirring noise come from under the hood. Your car won’t start, and now you’re stranded in your own driveway.
It’s a classic nightmare scenario that most drivers have been in, and the common culprit is your old car battery. The heart of the vehicle, the little spark that gives your car the jumpstart necessary to come to life, your battery is an essential piece of auto equipment, yet there are a lot that drivers don’t know about this little powerhouse. Here are some signs that may keep you from getting into a bind with a dead car.
The warning signs before your battery dies
There are a few clues – some subtle and some not so subtle – that your battery is beginning to fail and you’ll need a replacement soon. There are a lot of negative ways an old battery can affect your vehicle. Before those maintenance bills add up, get your battery replaced. Here’s how you can tell if it’s around that time.
Check the date
According to HubPages, your car battery should be replaced every 2.5 years. The normal lifespan of a car battery is around three years. Some products have a longer lifespan, but overuse of car accessories that drain electricity can affect the overall life of the battery. Keep your receipt handy if you buy a battery with a longer lifespan. You’ll want to change the battery before running into problems, so try to get a replacement before three years is up. If you don’t remember when your battery was bought, try to check the battery for a date.
Slow engine crank
When your car whirrs longer than normal before starting, it’s a telltale sign that your battery is reaching the end of its days. First there’s a lengthy whirring before starting. Next, your electronics won’t even come on when you attempt to start the car. According to Firestone Complete Auto Care, slow engine crank is often due to a failing battery. If your car takes a little extra time to fire up, it may be time to check the battery. Firestone suggested looking for other signs of battery failure like low battery fluid levels, a swollen or bloated battery case, or a rotten egg smell coming from under the hood. The sour smell can be coming from battery leaks. The smell may stem from leaking sulfur, which can lead to corrosion around cable connections that must be cleaned before the car starts.
Break out the jumper cables
If you have to jumpstart your car frequently, this is a surefire sign that your battery needs replacing. Don’t jumpstart your car over and over to get it moving. That bad battery could be harming your vehicle in other ways you don’t expect. According to Firestone Complete Auto Care, a drained battery can cause your charging system, starter motor or starter solenoid to draw higher voltage to make up for the weak battery. This can cause malfunctions in these car parts and call for expensive repairs. Don’t get caught paying a more expensive bill at the service station. Play it safe and change your battery before it starts giving out on you. Don’t rely on a set of booster cables and another car engine to fire up your car more than two or three times, as it may be time to finally set that dead battery to rest.