How To Know When To Change Your Car Battery

Mar 21, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)

When you are a car owner, you need to stay on top of regular maintenance and recognize when your vehicle needs attention. For example, there will most likely be a few signs when it is time to change your battery. Learning how to notice these signs in time and change your battery when it is dying, as opposed to when it is dead, avoids the stress and pressure of a dead battery. Here are five fairly clear indications that it is time for a new battery in your car.

Annual Inspections

Car batteries will almost always last over three years, but special care is required when they reach the three-year mark. At this point, you will want to have the battery inspected at least once each year to ensure that it is functional. Listen to the advice of your mechanic and don’t delay if they suggest a replacement. Start the annual inspections sooner if you are tough on your battery, such as frequently driving short distances or always getting stuck in stop-and-go traffic during your commute.

The Owner’s Manual

The best information on your battery will come from your owner’s manual. There should be a maintenance schedule listed inside and there will be tasks such as inspecting the battery, in addition to replacing it. Change the battery at the interval mentioned in the manual (or earlier) and don’t wait for other warning signs if the recommended time has already passed.

Leakage

If you notice leakage from your battery, you will need to repair or replace it as soon as possible. Leaking can lead to corrosion around the battery posts. In a pinch, you may be able to get away with cleaning the gunk along the posts, but you should seriously consider changing the battery or getting an inspection. Even if you can’t see visible liquid coming from the battery, you want to pay attention to other signs. For example, if the battery fluid level is consistently low no matter how often you fill it, you will want to have the battery inspected, along with the charging system.

Obvious Damage

Leakage isn’t the only type of obvious damage that can occur to a battery. In some cases, the battery may appear swollen or bloated. This typically occurs when the battery is exposed to excess heat and it’s incredibly damaging to your battery. If you notice any other obvious signs of damage that can’t be repaired, replace the battery.

Warning Signals

Pay attention to the warning lights on your car’s dashboard. Those related to the battery obviously require a battery inspection, but the check engine light may also go on if the battery is weak and dying. You should also look out for a slow engine crank. If the engine cranks in a sluggish manner or takes a long time to start, your battery is probably on its last legs.

There’s nothing worse than sitting in the driveway with a dead battery. But if you pay attention to the warning signs you can replace your battery before it’s too late. This way, you can avoid any significant damage or difficulty.

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