Battery Maintenance

Common Car Battery Problems and How to Fix Them


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Troubleshooting car battery problems can sometimes be quite vexing. Knowing what certain symptoms mean will help you narrow down the possible problems much quicker. In the paragraphs below, you will be presented with a number of common car battery problems and their solutions.

Dead Every Morning

You charge your car’s battery every day, but every morning, but, especially when it’s very cold or very hot out, your car won’t start and you have to boost it to get it to start. First, make sure that none of your accessories are being left on because of a faulty ignition switch. This chronic dead car battery condition usually has three battery related causes and one charging system related cause. You will need a voltmeter to determine if the problem lies with your charging system. Start the car, with the engine idling, check the voltage present at the battery terminals. If it reads anything below thirteen volts, you probably have either a bad alternator or a bad regulator, which is usually built into the alternator on newer cars. If you see between thirteen and fourteen volts with the engine running, try the following troubleshooting steps in order:

  1. Check and refill the electrolyte as required. Low electrolyte level will cause a battery to die often.
  2. Pull the battery terminals off and thoroughly clean them. Car battery corrosion will impede the flow of electrons to the cables. Charge the battery again and use a battery tester to make sure it holds the charge. If not, the battery requires replacement.
  3. If the electrolyte level is correct and the terminals are clean, but the battery still won’t hold a charge, then either the lead oxide plates have deteriorated too much or they’ve become shorted internally and it’s time to replace the battery.

Click, Click

You turn the key to start the engine, but all that happens is that you hear a clicking sound. This is usually a sign that either the battery doesn’t have enough power to fully engage the solenoid and starter bendix to fully engage the starter motor. There are few reasons this can be happening though. These reasons are listed below:

  • Incomplete charging by alternator. Take the car to a local retail parts chain store and have them test the charging system, as well as the battery. A battery that is not capable of accepting a full charge won’t be able to supply enough power to meet demands.
  • Have the same parts store person perform what is known as a started draw test. This tests how much current the starter is asking for to turn the engine over for starting. If this is excessive, you will need to replace the starter. This excessive draw requirement can kill a battery, so you should fully charge the battery and have it load tested.
  • Faulty starter solenoid or relay. If the relay or solenoid isn’t able for whatever reason to supply enough power to the starter, you’re just going to hear a click, Test this by bypassing the solenoid with a remote starter switch. If the engine starts, replace the solenoid.

The preceding paragraphs list the two most common car battery problems, the most common causes for them and how to fix them.

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