Is It Time for a New Car Battery? Here’s How to Tell

Has it been a couple of years since you put a new battery in your car or truck? Or perhaps it’s been longer than that? Then there’s a good chance your vehicle is due for a battery replacement if you want to keep your wheels on the road.

How can you tell if it’s time to put a new battery in your vehicle? Here are the warning signs you’ll want to watch for that indicate your battery is close to calling it quits.

Age of the Battery

As a rule of thumb, vehicle batteries should be changed every two to three years for optimal performance; however, age isn’t the only factor that impacts battery performance. Your local climate and the frequency with which you drive your vehicle also play roles in determining how long your battery will last.

Batteries tend to die faster in very hot or cold climates, so be sure to keep that in mind. And, if you let your vehicle sit for extended periods, its battery will also wear out more rapidly since it rarely has an opportunity to charge (vehicle batteries naturally charge themselves while you drive).

If you can’t remember the last time you installed a new battery in your ride, it’s probably time to get a new one. But before you do, check the battery’s date just to make sure it’s past the recommended replacement period.

For more information on determining a battery’s age, check out 4 Things to Look for in a Car Battery.

Dim Interior Lights and Headlights

Have you noticed your vehicle’s headlights or interior are dimmer than usual? If so, that dimming probably isn’t due to a failing bulb or bulbs; instead, it’s likely an indication of a failing battery.

To find out if your battery is indeed in need of replacement, you’ll either need to take it to a shop for testing or use a voltmeter to test it yourself. If you get a reading of fewer than 11.8 volts, your battery needs a charge, or it needs to be replaced.

Frequent Jumpstarts

This should really go without saying, but if you frequently need to jump your battery to get your vehicle to start, it’s time for a replacement. A battery will only hold a charge for so long, and after it exceeds its recommended lifespan, that charge will gradually trickle out any time the vehicle isn’t moving.

If your battery dies while you’re at work or overnight in your driveway, it’s safe to assume you need a new one.

Corroded Terminals

If you’ve noticed any power issues, you should check your battery terminals for corrosion. Although it’s normal for terminals to deteriorate over time, corrosion can cause voltage issues. And if the buildup gets bad enough, it may make it appear as though your battery isn’t functioning as well as it should.

You can easily remove any buildup with a baking soda and water solution and a stiff-bristled metal brush. After removing the corrosion, check to see if the power issues you noticed improve.

If they don’t, it’s probably in your best interest to get a new battery before your existing one completely dies.

Slow Engine Cranking

Do you feel like your vehicle’s engine is starting more slowly than usual? Do you have to try to start it multiple times before it finally works? That’s a sure sign your battery is on its way out.

As your battery wears (all batteries do), it generates charge slower and slower. The slower it generates a charge, the longer you’ll have to wait for the starter to turn the engine over when you turn the key in the ignition.

Warped Battery Casing

Does your battery appear to be a bit swollen or otherwise misshapen? Can you see any cracks? If you see either of these signs, that’s an indication that the battery has been exposed to extreme cold or heat, which can compromise its functionality and shorten its life.

If your battery is any other shape but square, that’s a solid sign it’s time to install a new one.

Odd Odor

Vehicle battery leaks are rare, but when they occur, the hydrogen sulfide gas they produce has a highly unpleasant odor that’s not unlike the stench of rotten eggs. If you smell something like this when you operate your vehicle, do not ignore it.

Have a pro take a look at your battery as soon as possible, as the leaking acid could damage other components of your vehicle.

Your Check Engine Light Is On

An illuminated check engine light can indicate dozens of issues with your vehicle, so this may not be a super-reliable sign, but it’s a potential sign nonetheless. In some cases, a check engine light will come on when a vehicle’s battery is nearing the end of its life.

If yours is on and you don’t know why, swing by an auto parts store and have a pro test your battery. If it’s not the battery, you should have them run the trouble codes to find out what’s going on.

Get a Quality Battery at West Can Auto Parts

Think it might be time to replace your vehicle’s battery? Then stop by West Can Auto Parts in Surrey, and we’ll hook you up with a quality battery for less! We test all of our batteries to ensure performance and offer limited warranties on all the auto parts we sell.

Feel free to use our online parts search tool or parts search mobile app to hunt for the battery you need, or give us a call today at (604) 531-8254 to learn more.

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