How Do I Know When to Change My Car Battery?

How Do I Know When to Change My Car Battery

The car battery consistently stands out as one of the most important components of a vehicle as it is required to meet the energy needs of cars daily. Although it is quite important, you don’t see car buyers asking about a used car’s battery every day; instead, we focus on good engines, perfect fuel efficiency, great handling, etcetera.

The battery provides power to all the electrical components of a car and is needed primarily to start the engine of regular cars. These power sources, however, do not last forever. With time, they begin to store less power and may need to be replaced. In this article, we will answer the question, “How do I know when to change my car battery?” and provide some hints to notify car owners when the need to change a car battery arises.

How often do car batteries need to be replaced?

Knowing when to change a car battery is an important part of having a vehicle. On average, car batteries reach their peak within the first three years of use. These batteries can remain in good condition for up to five years, but it is recommended to change a car battery as frequently as every three years for the best performance.

Signs that your car battery needs to be replaced

Signs that your car battery needs to be replaced

A battery doesn’t just wear out in one day and stop working; it comes with signs that point car drivers toward having the battery changed. Some of the signs that your car battery needs to be replaced include:

  • Slow engine cranking.
  • Dimming headlights.
  • Battery age.
  • Corroded terminals.
  • Swollen battery case.
  • Battery fluid leaks.
  • Warning lights.
  • Faulty electrical components.

Slow engine cranking

Slow cranking is one of the most common signs that a car owner needs to have their car battery changed. When a vehicle’s engine begins to start slowly or requires several attempts before the car gets running, it is a sign that your car battery needs to be changed. Hearing a clicking sound when the key is turned is a clear indication that the battery is weak.

Dimming headlights

Another sign that your battery needs to be replaced is dimming headlights. When your headlights aren’t as bright as they used to be or regularly become dim after a few seconds, you should suspect that you may need to change your car battery. The battery provides power for all electrical components in a car, including the headlights. This means a vehicle with dim headlights may not be receiving enough power from its power source (the battery). In such cases, it’s a good idea to change your car battery.

Battery age

As earlier mentioned, car batteries can function properly only for a period of three to five years. After this duration, it is advisable to get your battery checked or changed, as it may not be able to perform its functions adequately afterward.

Corroded terminals

Corroded terminals

During your regular routine car maintenance, do you check your battery’s terminals? Do you know if your battery is in good condition? What about the terminals? Did you take a look? Corroded terminals are another sign that a battery is worn out and requires replacement. With continuous usage of a worn-out battery with corroded terminals, you can expect to have difficulties starting your vehicle and low-performing electrical components.

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Swollen battery case

Another sign that you should change your car battery is a swollen battery case. When a car battery is worn out and overcharged while exposed to high temperatures, there is a high tendency for the battery to swell. When you find your battery in a bloated and oddly-shaped form, be sure to immediately change your car battery.

Battery fluid leaks

If your battery is overcharged or damaged, it may begin to leak. When you notice that your battery is leaking, be sure that it’s time to change your car battery.

Warning Lights

Today’s vehicles come with a number of warning lights that turn on when anything goes wrong. They notify a car’s driver of potential problems with mechanical or electrical components. Whenever you notice a warning light turning on every now and then, it should be a sign that your vehicle may need to be worked on or that your battery needs to be changed.

Quick Tip

If you are a car buyer interested in purchasing a used vehicle, be sure to put the vehicle’s history into consideration. A vehicle history report provides full information about a vehicle’s records and history. This information is useful not just to car buyers but car owners as well as they can quickly identify what their warning lights signify if they have full records of the vehicle’s accident and damage history, as well as service and maintenance history. The information contained in a vehicle history report from Instant VIN Reports includes:

  • Accident history.
  • Damage history.
  • Open recalls.
  • Service history.
  • Maintenance history.
  • Theft records.
  • Ownership history.
  • Vehicle specifications.
  • Odometer records, and more.

Faulty electrical components

Similar to the headlights, all electrical components in a car are powered by the car’s battery. When the battery starts wearing out, you can expect to see the vehicle’s electrical components malfunction.

How to Change a Car Battery

If your car battery has slow engine cranking, corroded terminals, or shows any other symptom of damage, then it is time to change your car battery. To change your car battery, simply follow the steps below.

Step 1: Remove the cables from the battery terminal

The first step to changing a car battery is removing the cables from the battery terminal. Before touching anything, go through the manufacturer’s manual to identify if your car has a negative ground or a positive ground. If your vehicle has a negative ground, then you may loosen the nuts and bolts holding the battery cable to the negative terminal. If your vehicle has a positive ground, then you may begin with the positive terminal.

Step 2: Remove the screws and take out the battery

The next step is to remove the screws and fasteners holding the battery in place and take out the battery. Place these screws and bolts in a safe place because they will be required when it’s time to replace the battery.

Step 3: Maintain the tray

While changing your battery, it’s important to do a little bit of maintenance as well. After taking out the battery, take a close look at the tray the battery was sitting on. Most often, you will find dust and dirt. Make sure to get it properly cleaned before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Get your new car battery and place it properly

Get your new battery and carefully place it on the battery tray. This step has to be done carefully, and you must ensure it’s firmly positioned and in the same manner as the former battery.

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Step 5: Replace the screws, bolts, and nuts

The last step involved putting every screw, bolt, and nut in their proper positions. Make sure that the battery cables are carefully placed in the reverse order in which they were taken off.

After changing a car battery, it is important to properly dispose of the batteries. Make sure to locate special recycling centers and drop off your car battery there.

Preventive measures to extend the life of your car battery

The average lifespan of a car battery is around 3 to 5 years, but there are some car batteries that get worn out in as little as 2 years. To extend the life of your car battery, there are some measures you have to put in place, such as:

  • Carry out routine maintenance.
  • Drive your car regularly.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures.
  • Don’t leave electrical systems on.

Carry out routine maintenance

Keeping your battery in good condition begins with regular car maintenance. Alongside your car’s tires, brakes, and engines, keep an eye on your car’s battery as well. To prevent changing a car battery often and to extend the life of your battery, the best practice is regular maintenance. Corroded battery terminals act as obstructions to the free flow of energy. Dirt, dust, corrosion – all these should be taken care of with regular maintenance.

It is also important to have your battery checked regularly by a professional mechanic. They can test the voltage and output of your battery and notify you if any damage or corrosion is noticed.

Drive your car regularly

Do you use your car as regularly as it should be used? One of the reasons why a car battery runs out is because a vehicle is not frequently driven. It is recommended that vehicles be driven at least once a week to keep the battery charged.

Avoid extreme temperatures

Car batteries are not designed to withstand hot or cold temperatures, which both affect the battery’s lifespan. When the weather is extremely hot, the battery fluid may evaporate and damage the internal components of the battery. In cold weather, it becomes more difficult to start the engine. As often as you can, avoid extreme temperatures and keep your car battery at a temperature of 26.7 degrees Celsius or 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don’t leave electrical systems on

If you are not using the radio, air conditioning, or any other electrical system in your car, it’s best to turn them off. Leaving them on drains the battery and can reduce its lifespan.

Apart from car batteries are there other things buyers should inquire about or cross-check? You can learn more about some other common mistakes to avoid when buying a used car.

Overall, car batteries do not last forever and may require a change sooner or later if you don’t keep your battery in good condition. Some of the ways you can prevent a car battery from wearing out are by carrying out routine maintenance, driving regularly, avoiding extreme temperatures, and turning off electrical systems when not in use. After three to five years, most car owners may have to change their car batteries. Follow the guide in this article, and you will have no problem changing your car battery.

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