Identifying a car problem isn’t always the most straightforward task. Some issues can have overlapping symptoms, which can complicate diagnostics. Others may not make themselves known until much later on. And if you’re a novice driver, you might doubt your ability to tell if something’s wrong.
In the fall and winter months especially, there can be several issues that car owners can expect to face—one of the most common is a dead or dying car battery. So to better prepare you and your vehicle, it’s essential to know if your car battery is going bad.
How Do I Know My Car Battery Is Going Bad?
One of the worst driver experiences is discovering your vehicle won’t start when you’re rushing to leave for work in the morning. Unfortunately, this is a strong indicator that your battery is dead. Nevertheless, there are other signs your car battery is going bad:
Your Car Is Slow to Start.
If your car puts out a dull, whirring sound and the engine slowly cranks as you start it, then you’ll want to self-test your battery or visit your certified mechanic. Another option is visiting your local Autozone, which has free battery testing services. A service technician can check to see how much charge your battery has and recommend the next steps. Remember, the average lifespan of a car battery is about four to seven years. If you aren’t sure how old it is, check your battery for a sticker listing its month and year.
Your Headlights Are Dimming.
Electrical components like your car’s windshield wipers, headlights, and radio run on the battery when the ignition is in the ON position. Therefore, a weak charge can cause your lights to flicker or dim when there isn’t a sufficient amount of energy to energize them fully. Alternatively, you might find your radio or interior lights won’t even turn on. If this is the case, check your battery’s charge for confirmation that it’s low or dead.
Your Battery Looks Fat.
Believe it or not, you can often tell if your battery has issues based on how it looks. This is because a swollen battery is a good indicator that your alternator’s voltage regulator is faulty and caused the battery to overcharge. At this point, your only option is to replace the battery and repair the alternator. You will need a trip to your auto repair shop to get your car running again.
Your Check Engine Light Turns on or Begins to Flash.
There are several reasons why your check engine light may flash or stay on constantly, such as a spark plug issue or a failing catalytic converter. But a dying car battery can also trigger your check engine light when it no longer produces ample voltage to keep your car’s computer functioning properly.
You Smell Sulfur.
While your car’s internal diagnostics can help tell you of any issues, your senses can also be an excellent method for diagnosing car problems. So if you open your car’s hood and smell something like sulfur (or rotten eggs), you likely have a battery leak. Since this is a safety hazard, you will need to fix it as soon as possible because it can corrode various engine components.
Your Car Starts and Then Dies Instantly.
Depending on your vehicle’s make and model, a dying car battery might produce enough voltage to start your car but not enough to keep it running. When this is the case, you’ll want to conduct a simple battery test to check its charge.
How Much Does a New Battery Cost?
Replacing your car’s battery isn’t the most significant expense. However, it can be a nuisance when you aren’t prepared to install a new one when it fails. According to RepairPal, the average cost for battery replacement is between $313 and $324. Labor cost estimates fall between $36 and $46, and parts between $277 and $278. So replacing your car battery is not too pricey, but it can be an inconvenience when you aren’t prepared to install a new one when it fails.
How Can I Avoid Car Battery Problems?
The best way to avoid car issues is to stay on top of regular maintenance and invest in a reliable vehicle protection plan. That way, if a problem pops up, you won’t have to worry about the car repair expenses or paying for a tow when necessary. Furthermore, sticking to the recommended maintenance schedule can help eliminate problems before they occur. Check out our protection program reviews today to find an extended car warranty that meets your needs and budget