What Causes a Car Battery to Die Quickly? There are many things that can cause a car battery to die quickly. Some are obvious to most people, some not. Nobody likes to hear that dreaded silence when the driver tries to start the vehicle.
It’s important to maintain your battery in order to maximize its life and save you money. Here are some things that can drain a car battery.
Newer vehicles turn the lights off automatically after a period of time. Nothing is foolproof, however, and it’s not a bad idea to check just to make sure the lights turned off.
Vehicles a few years older are equipped with warning signals that the lights were left on, but many of these don’t work until the driver opens his door. That means that if you sit in the car waiting for somebody for a while, the lights will stay on without the driver’s knowledge.
A parasitic draw is something that draws power when the vehicle is not running. A vehicle’s alternator charges the car battery while the engine is running but not after it’s turned off. Anything that draws power from the battery when the vehicle is off is called a parasitic draw.
These can include things such as the radio, clock, and alarm system. These don’t draw much power, but what can drain a battery are things such as door and interior lights, or even bad fuses or loosened wiring.
Most modern vehicles have warnings that a door or trunk is not securely latched, which will solve the problem of their lights staying on. However, a malfunction in this system can always happen, so it’s best to always make sure all your doors and glove compartment are fully shut.
The alternator charges the car battery while the engine is running. The alternator should be checked periodically. A bad diode internally can also be the culprit.
Car battery connections can work loose after a time, and this can cause problems. The cable connections should be checked to make sure they are tight, and the cables inspected for defects. Corrosion on the terminals is another problem.
A whitish powder will collect around the terminals, which interferes with connection. One good home remedy is to disconnect the cables, then scrub both cable connectors and terminals with a baking soda solution and an old toothbrush.
Don’t let the powder touch your skin; you may get a chemical burn. Check connections for any corrosion or rust, and make sure they are dry before reconnecting.
We all know that extremely cold temperatures put a strain on a car battery, and it takes longer to start the vehicle.
If you take too many short drives, your car battery may wear out more quickly. With a lot of short trips, the battery puts out its most power starting the vehicle, but a short trip doesn’t give the alternator enough time to recharge the battery to make up for the drain.
Keep in mind, too, that car batteries are called upon to put out more power these days than ever, what with power windows, door locks, touch screens, and other amenities. Eventually, this catches up, and the battery dies.
Car batteries don’t last forever, and the older the battery, the less satisfactory the performance, even when well maintained. In general, car batteries should be replaced every three or four years.
There are many options for checking out a troublesome battery. Auto repair centers and dealerships are one option, but there are also battery shops. Any of these have testing equipment to find out if the battery is bad or test the alternator.
Even some tire centers can test your battery. If yours is faulty, it can be replaced in just a few minutes and you’re on your way. If the alternator is bad, it will cost more to replace than a battery, but you’ll be saving money in the long run on batteries and aggravation.