How to Tell if You Need a New Car Battery
We’ve all been there before. That dreaded clicking sound when you try to start your car. Worse, no sound at all when you turn the ignition. The battery is dead and your car is going nowhere.
Do you know how to jumpstart your car? Most people think it’s easy and they can just figure it out. But sometimes the problem is greater than the capability of jumper cables. Electrical problems concerning a car battery are beyond comprehension for a lot of people. Do you know how many cells your car battery has? Or where the chemical reaction occurs?
Jumpstarting a Dead Battery
Jumpstarting requires jumper cables. It is relatively safe, just make sure you match the right cable to the right terminal. However, if successful, the battery might only function for a limited time. This is due to the fact that modern car electrical systems are complex and sophisticated enough to keep your car functioning properly, for a bit, even if the battery is dead. If this is the case, you most likely need a new battery.
Toyota car batteries, for example, are specifically designed to prevent the primary cells from going dead and to send the charge through the electrical system that is not connected to the battery. This is called “jump leading,” and jump leads are used to provide the needed spark that helps the charge get through the electrical system.
Why You Should Buy a Jump Lead
They are life-savers if there is no readily available electrical source near you. You can buy a commercial-grade one for approximately $3.
Keep in mind, however, that a normal vehicle battery is not designed to withstand thousands of amps, particularly amps that are high enough to supply the spark needed to ignite the primary explosive elements. In fact, your vehicle’s electrical system is probably only designed to operate at 20-25 amps.
How do I Know if the Battery is Bad?
If in doubt about how your battery is functioning, use the car radio. If the radio is working fine, it is a good indication that your electrical system is working properly. Also, check the interior lights. Are they coming on as expected, or are they dimming? If the latter, your battery might not be working properly.
Other signs of a dead or dying battery are the engine cranking slowly, your car requiring frequent jumpstarts, the aforementioned clicking when you turn the engine or the car not starting at all. And the most obvious sign of them all is when the battery light is illuminated on the dashboard.
Battery vs. Alternator
Sometimes, the battery is not at fault. It’s the alternator that’s causing all the problems. But how do you know which one is the culprit? The best way to tell is if your car starts fine but stalls when you’re driving, your battery is likely not being recharged due to a faulty alternator. Another good indication is a squealing sound coming from the engine. Be aware that a bad alternator can also drain your battery.
Whatever the reason your electrical system is malfunctioning, determine the reason why and take steps to remedy the situation. Otherwise, you might find yourself stranded by the side of a cold and desolate road.