5 Alarming Signs Your Battery Might Be Dying on You

No one is gifted enough to foretell just how long a car battery’s lifespan will be. Even manufacturers will only give you a very wide service life window, commonly estimated between 3 to 10 years. But if you’re observant enough, there are a few signs that your car’s power storage unit is about to die and you can make preparations before it happens.

It takes longer than usual to start the engine

Starting your car needs power. Naturally, a battery that has some issues might not be able to readily supply the power needed to start the engine right away. As a result, it will take longer before sufficient charge could be mustered to start your car.

Of course, a slow starting engine does not always mean that the culprit is a problematic power cell since it could be caused by other car issues as well. On the other hand, a slow start is also one of the early signs that your energy storage component is about to kick the bucket. Once this happens to your car, don’t just ignore it. Otherwise, you’ll be facing real trouble when your car will no longer start due to a dead battery.

If you find that your car takes longer to start than usual, check the battery. If it’s losing power and has not been replaced for a while already, then it’s probably the culprit. Otherwise, your car’s other electrical components might need to be serviced to ensure smooth running.

If a car battery has lost more than 20 percent of its charge capacity, do not leave it sitting in the trunk or in any other exposed place. Losing power is always dangerous because it could cause the battery to leak and possibly catch fire.

Your car will not start properly regardless of whether the battery fully charged or not (or if it is new)

Even if your car’s battery is brand new, your vehicle will likely not start without a problem when you put the key into the ignition.

That is because even a new battery will not give your car enough energy to start immediately. You will notice that the engine turns but won’t catch, and after some time, the engine would not start no matter how long you turn the key.

For this reason, it is best to wait for a few days before you decide to try starting a car that has been turned off for more than two or three days because it might be too drained of electrical energy to start instantly.

In every situation when your car’s battery is drained, it takes longer for you to start the engine. In this case, the reason why it’s taking longer than usual could be caused by a bad battery or an electrical malfunction. If your car will not start easily, it’s time to take care of it.

If you’re still not sure if the issue is caused by an electrical malfunction or a bad battery, you can check the alternator. This component is required to keep the battery charged during idle time. But if it’s faulty, your car won’t have sufficient power to start.

The best way to determine if your alternator is working properly is by having it tested by the shop near you.

The engine cranks but won’t start

You can view this sign as a more advanced version of the previous one. This time, however, you’ll hear the engine cranking up but it just won’t start no matter how long you’re at it.
The reason for this is the power cell has deteriorated to such a degree that it will no longer supply enough power need for the engine to start. True, there could be other reasons for the situation, but chances are that it’s highly likely the battery’s fault. Perhaps it’s time to bring out your trusty jump starter kit before heading out to the store to buy a fresh power cell.
When the engine cranks but won’t start, check the battery. If it’s already discharged, it might be a great idea to replace it with a new one. If not, then you might have to look elsewhere—probably below or over your hood’s area for the issues causing it to act up.

If a car battery has lost more than 20 percent of its charge capacity, do not leave it sitting in the trunk or in any other exposed place. Losing power is always dangerous because it could cause the battery to leak and possibly catch fire.

Car lights, radio, and other electrical appliances will turn off abruptly (when the battery is about to die)

It’s not a good idea to ignore this sign. Such sudden power outages can be caused by a dying battery. If the battery is nearing its end of life, it might no longer be able to power your car properly.

As a result, the aforementioned electrical components will experience some form of interruption. This is alarming, but it’s really nothing to worry about.

If you happen to be driving and notice that your car’s lights, radio, or other electrical appliances suddenly turn off, pull over immediately. If possible, switch the ignition off so that the car could not continue running and you could exit in safety.

In the event that you choose to continue driving, make sure to keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead as this is a sign that something could be seriously wrong with your car—possibly your battery.

If the lights and other appliances seem to act up while you’re driving, pull over immediately and check the battery. If it’s already losing power, hook it up to a jump starter kit or get yourself another one as soon as possible.

Otherwise, you can ask for assistance from a mechanic near you for a thorough check-up of your car’s electrical system.

Now that you know the top signs of a faulty battery, you might want to find out some of the things you need to avoid when taking care of your car’s power cell. You can check them out below and prepare yourself for the things that could be fatal to your battery’s life.

Since a battery is not hard to replace, it shouldn’t look like a challenge.

The lights are dimmer than usual

If you’re starting to feel that your car’s lights seem to be dimmer than usual, it does not necessarily mean that it’s just your eyes playing tricks on you. On the contrary, it might be the vehicle’s power storage trying to tell you that it’s about to die.
You need to remember that all electronics, including the lights, are powered by the charge stored in the power cell. Naturally, a dying battery will not be able to provide enough charge to run all of them at full power. Thus, your lights will be dimmer and, in some cases, they will even blink if you press on the accelerator. Be mindful of this situation because it could be a sign that your battery is almost dead.
If you’re driving and notice that the lights are dimmer than usual, pull over immediately and check the battery. If it’s already discharged, hook it up to a jump starter kit or get yourself another one as soon as possible.

Otherwise, you can ask for assistance from a mechanic near you for a thorough check-up of your car’s electrical system.

If your lights are blinking due to a dead battery, you’ll most likely have to get it replaced. The best thing you can do is to get a new battery, since it will be cheaper than paying for the replacement of your entire electrical system.

If you’re not sure where to get a new battery, you can find shops near you by using google maps.

Do not try to drive with a dead battery. Your car relies on its battery to start up, so if the battery is dead, you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Disconnecting your battery even for a short period of time can cause it to lose power permanently. To avoid this, we suggest that you don’t disconnect the terminals unless you really need to. Avoid doing this while still driving or when parked for an extended period of time.

It’s a good idea to test your battery once in a while so that you’ll know how healthy it is. You can use a voltmeter for this, but be sure to contact your local auto parts store for information on how to use the device properly. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to use one; they will help you with it.

It’s best to keep your battery clean. If you take care of it properly, the lifespan of your battery will be longer and it will be able to perform its function longer too.

It’s also best to give your battery a break once in a while. This means that you should disconnect it from the car’s electrical system for at least three days at a time so that the battery can rest and recharge itself.

Don’t do this every time you go on a road trip, but try to avoid disconnecting your battery for too long.

It’s recommended that you check the battery’s electrolyte after it has been discharged for about 10 or 12 hours. You can do this by removing the battery from the car and draining out the remaining fluid in an old can or bucket.

Once the fluid becomes clear, you can pour in a clean solution. After testing it, it’s best to wait for 48 hours before re-connecting your battery. It won’t do any good for you to recharge your battery if there is no plastic tray or separator inside it for the electrolyte to circulate around.

You notice a funny smell

Okay, as far as signs are concerned, this one is a bit tricky. We know that there could be a lot of reasons for bad smell in your car such as sweaty socks, a week-old half-finished pizza slice or anything else that people tend to place on the back seat and forget about it afterward.
But in the absence of the usual suspects, it just might be due to your car’s power cell about to expire especially if you notice something like a rotten egg smell when you open the hood.
If you notice this sign or any other unusual smell while you’re driving, pull over as soon as possible and get your car checked by a mechanic near you. You can also check out this website for more information on how to recognize these symptoms.

The battery terminals are corroded and rusted They might be a good choice for those who are looking for something that would increase their car’s power grid storage without having to spend too much money on it.

But if you’re seriously looking for a reliable battery that would last a while, then you might want to steer clear of the free ones.

Corrosion and rust can be causes of unwanted resistance in your car’s electrical system. If ignored long enough, this can cause serious damage to the entire system, even leading to a dead battery.

You should replace your old terminals with new ones every once in a while, especially if you do not take care of them properly. You can do this by providing a solution of a mixture of water and salt. This will add corrosion inhibitors to the terminals and make it easier for them to last for a longer period of time.

If you notice any strange noises that might not come from your car’s engine, it is possible that those are coming from your battery or electrical system. Worry not as this may be an indication that your battery is about to die.

You can check this either by pulling over or by asking a mechanic to check it for you. Replacing the battery could help in resolving the situation.

If the battery is making strange noises, try to adjust the charger’s voltage and increase the load if possible. This will help make sure that there is enough power flowing through your electrical system, thus preventing damage from occurring as a result of lack of charge.

You should also check whether or not your car’s alternator is working as it should be. If these two systems are not working in sync with one another, then we could be talking about a big problem.

You should try to find an auto shop near you and get your car’s electrical system checked as soon as possible.

There are many signs that can help you determine when it is time to replace your battery, although some of them aren’t as clear as the others.

The battery’s case is out of shape

For vehicle’s power storage systems, the shape of the case enclosing the electrolyte solution is rectangular. But if it starts to morph into something else, it means only one thing - trouble is coming your way.
Extreme heat exposure might cause the case to deform, crack and swell. When this happens, you can expect the cell’s power output and performance to drop as well.
Keep these signs in mind to avoid the unpleasant surprise of finding out about your vehicle’s power cell problem only on the day that it won’t start. But if you really want to be prepared no matter what, check out our car accessories buying guide and get the best jump starter for you or your vehicle.
It could also be a good idea to install a charge air cooler as cooling your battery during charging can help it last longer.

You notice that the acid level is low Even if you’re not much of a mechanic, you should know what the liquid level in the cell should look like.

When there is lower than usual amount of acid inside the cell, it means that something’s wrong with your car’s power storage system.

If you see that the electrolyte level has dropped a lot, it might be time to get your vehicle’s electrical system checked. But in the meantime, you can try charging it more often than usual regardless of whether it is completely drained or not.

You should also let your battery rest for a while before you go on with any other activity so that it can recharge itself. This will help prevent any permanent damage from occurring to your car’s electrical system regardless of how long you keep driving with an empty battery.

If you notice any signs of cracks, splits or corrosion in your vehicle’s power cell, it is time to take it to an auto repair service. Any signs of damage in the cells are cause for concern since they are components that can make or break your car’s performance and safety.

If the problem is more immediately pressing, you can always ask a mechanic near you to check it out.


If you notice any signs of your car battery dying, it is important to take action before the situation escalates. The worst thing would be to get stranded in the middle of a road trip or find out about it too late when you're already at your destination.

The good news is that the symptoms of a dying battery are pretty easy to identify, even if you’re not a car expert. But the question is, do you know when it’s time to replace your car battery or what the best ways to jumpstart a vehicle are?

Hopefully, this guide will be able to answer all your questions and give you tips on how to recognize the signs of your car’s power cell dying.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do you know if your car battery is dying?

There are 3 main signs that will tell you your car battery is failing:

1. Dimmed lights: when your battery is almost out, it is not capable of keeping your lights as bright as they should be.

2. Clicking sound when turning car key: when you turn your key in the ignition, your car sends an electrical current, that might not work when your car battery is out.

3. Pressing gas pedal: if you feel like you car needs pressing gas pedal when starting, it means that you might deal with a failing battery.

How do you tell if its your alternator or your battery?

When your alternator is failing, you will notice at least one of the following signs:

1. Unusual noises in the car. Some details of the alternator can produce grinding, rattling noises if your alternator is out of function.

2. Strange smells. If you smell burning rubber, it is a clear sign that your alternator is failing. Be careful if you feel the smell together with a failing electrical performance - your car needs an urgent check-up.

Is corrosion a sign of a bad battery?

Not always. It depends on where corrosion is located on your car battery. If you see corrosion on the positive terminal only, it is a sign that the battery is overcharged.

Do not let this happen again as overcharging can cause a car battery to fail. When there is corrosion on your cell, it means that you face with a crack or leak.

Inspect you car battery immediately and change it if necessary.

How Can I Tell If My Car Battery is Dying?

The way to tell if your battery is dying is by diagnosing it. This means checking the voltage that's across the plates of the battery when you're not using it. If you find that your car battery voltage drops (to about 11V), then something has to be wrong with it, typically a short circuit or a bad connection.

How to do a basic car check?

Test the tires for proper inflation by using a tire pressure gauge. Check the condition of the tread and make sure that all 4 tires are in good working order. Next, check your coolant levels to see if it's low or empty.

You may want to take your temperature reading with an engine thermometer; this will let you know if you have any leaks coming from your water pump or radiator. Finally, check your oil level and color before checking under your car for leaks, wear, and damage.

What are the signs your alternator is going out?

An alternator charges the battery with power from the engine. As it ages, it becomes less effective. Common signs include:

1. Dim lights - The alternator may not be able to keep up with demand and thus produce enough power for all of your electrical needs. If so, you'll notice that your headlights may get dimmer when driving at night or your dash light illuminates dimmer than normal.

You may also notice that the voltage regulator is malfunctioning or there's a loose connection in the wiring system.

2. Battery drain - Your battery will likely need to recharge more often because of inadequate voltage regulation and insufficient power from the alternator to help keep your battery charged adequately between driving sessions

3. Loss of voltage - The alternator may not be producing enough power to run your accessories or the voltage regulator may be defective.

4. Heat - Overheating is a sign that your alternator has likely failed and needs to be replaced.

5. Electrical malfunctions - Your car's electrical system can start to malfunction and give you trouble if your alternator is failing. You'll want to schedule a service appointment with your mechanic if any of these problems occur while you're driving.

What causes a car battery to die quickly?

The most common cause of a car battery dying quickly is starting the engine when the battery is cold. This can short out the battery connections, which can cause a faster than normal discharge. A slow discharge will, over time, decrease the charge in the car battery and prevent it from holding a full charge.

Why won't my car start but the radio and lights work?

Most likely, your car won't start because the battery has gone dead. You need to follow the troubleshooting steps below:

1. Turn attempts at starting your car off and have someone call a tow truck
2. Check for a bad ground connection and make sure that everything is plugged in properly
3. Make sure you are getting gas or fluids
4. Have a mechanic check over the electrical system of your vehicle to make sure it's not defective
5. Check your charging system
6. Charge your battery for a few hours and attempt to start the engine again
7. If none of these steps work, you need to get a new battery

Can you jumpstart a car with a bad alternator?

Yes. You can use jumper cables to jumpstart the dead battery in a car with a bad alternator and start the engine. Jump starting is a temporary measure to get the engine running and your car home or somewhere else where you can find an alternate source of power.

Alternators are not expensive, but they do need to be replaced by a professional mechanic--one who specializes in electrical systems.

What does a bad alternator sound like?

A bad alternator will sound as if something is resonating inside the car. They will typically emit a grinding or "whining" noise. When driving, it can be difficult to know whether or not the alternator sounds good, so your best bet is to just ask someone who's familiar with cars.

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