Electronics are a part of our life. If we grab a remote, we expect it to work. If we push a button, the device should pop into action. And when we turn the key, the engine should start.
But what if it doesn’t?
Your car battery is something you probably take for granted. When you turn the key or punch the button, you expect things to start. Your mind is filled with daily activities. Nowhere in there is the thought of being stranded.
What things might be draining your car battery?
What a car battery does
Before we talk about why your car battery might not be working, it’s important to understand how it does.
Most vehicles today use a lead-acid SLI battery, which creates a chemical reaction to move into action. SLI – starting, lighting, and ignition – works by providing a short blast of energy out to various parts of your car. It triggers energy into the engine to get it started, before transferring it over to the alternator to take over the power supply while you drive. It also sends energy to accessories such as the radio and headlights,
What can drain a car battery?
A dead car battery can be frustrating. It can make you late for an important meeting, or strand you away from home.
But as much as that can stop you in your tracks, it’s even more annoying knowing it could have been avoided.
Car batteries rarely fail without advanced warning. There are certain actions you take with your vehicle that can lead to draining your car battery.
Parasitic battery drain
Your vehicle’s battery is used for two things: starting the engine and sending power to your car’s accessories. It would be annoying to have to reset the clock or reset your radio channels every time you got into your vehicle. Car batteries are designed with a parasitic battery drain that keeps sending power out even after the engine is turned off. While that’s a good thing for low drainers like your clock, headlamps and interior lights take more power. If you leave them on overnight, they can be enough to drain your battery, especially if it was weak to begin with. The best way to avoid this is to ensure your lights are all turned off, and your doors are closed before you walk away.
Extreme heat or cold
While most people would never consider Colorado to have extreme temperatures, the few days it does drop below zero or move above 100 can take its toll. Especially if your battery is nearing the end of its life. If your battery had a hard time cranking the engine over on the coldest day of the year, be prepared this summer as the temperature climb. Consider the age of your battery. It might make sense to change the battery out now before it leaves you stranded.
Loose or corroded connections
Your vehicle’s battery has both positive and negative terminals. Sometimes these connections can wiggle loose from the stress of driving every day. Because fluids jostle around, the terminals may also become corroded. If either of these occurs, your battery can’t properly transmit power to the rest of your vehicle. That’s why it’s important to give your car a thorough maintenance check regularly, and clean and repair anything that isn’t working right. Creating a relationship with one of our mechanics is a great way to keep your maintenance visits on track.
How many miles do you drive per day? Is it a mile to the store, another mile to pick up the kids, followed by a mile back home? While it’s great to be a part of a community, and have everything you need a short drive from home, those quick trips can also wreak havoc on your car battery. The battery fires up the engine, but it’s the alternator that helps the battery stay charged. If it doesn’t get the chance to circulate effectively while you drive, it can shorten the battery life.
An aging battery
Like every part on your vehicle, a car battery will only last so long. While a manufacturer might promise up to five years, two to three is more the target for most car batteries. Of course, it depends on how you drive and where you live. Short trips will kill a battery faster than steady road trips. Even leaving your car sitting without starting for weeks at a time can slowly cause your battery to fail. Pay attention to when you install it. The closer you get to end of life, the more you should watch for potential problems.
Sometimes it’s not your battery that’s failing; it’s the alternator. Your battery is a burst of energy sent out to get things started on your car. But once it’s moving, the alternator keeps everything running. If you stop at a traffic light and things start fading or dying, it’s a sign of problems with your alternator.
What to consider when buying a new battery
Car batteries are designed to last anywhere from two to five years. While you might see car batteries sitting in your favorite big box store, it still takes a little knowledge to buy the right one and install it without a problem. Car batteries are determined by:
Size – car batteries are divided into several groups, which indicate the length, width, and height of the battery. The one your vehicle needs is determined by the space allotted for it. Check your owner’s manual to find out what group your vehicle needs.
Freshness – yes, there is an expiration date on a car battery. Especially for batteries that aren’t as popular as others, it can sit on the shelf indefinitely. Why put in a battery that already has six months or more in age?
Power requirement – this refers to the cold cranking amps (CCA) and cranking amps (CA). This is the amount of energy required to start the battery in extreme conditions.
Warranties – the car batteries with the longest warranties are also some of the more popular manufacturers in the marketplace. Don’t go with obscurity to save a little money. This is one area you should stick with popularity.
Battery life – stop by one of our service bays, we’re happy to check the battery life of your current battery. This will help you determine if it’s time for a new one, or a little maintenance can keep it going.
Who can you trust?
We pride ourselves on being a family-operated business that’s been in your community since 2000. We work here. We live here. And we’re here for you, when you need us most.
Have a question about your car battery? We’re just a phone call away.