Your car’s battery is essential to its operation. If it is dead, your vehicle’s engine won’t start, nor will any of the electrical components of your car function. Almost everyone has dealt with the hassle of a dead car battery — being stranded in a parking lot somewhere until you can get a mechanic on hand or find someone who is able to give you a jump start.
However, there are several ways to identify when your car battery is dying, so that you can get it replaced before you end up stuck somewhere.
Here are five signs that your car battery likely needs attention, and you should have its capacity tested by a mechanic.
1. Your engine starts slowly.
As your car’s battery ages and wears out internally, it will take longer and longer for it to create the charge necessary to start the engine. If your car’s battery is taking a few seconds to start, it may be a sign that your battery is about to die.
2. Your check engine light is on.
As you probably know if you’ve been driving for a few years, a lit check engine light can mean just about anything. But one of the common reasons it may be on is that your battery is about to fail.
3. Your battery’s case is swollen.
If the casing of your battery looks like it is swollen or bloated, then your battery itself has likely swollen or corroded due to excessive heat or internal deterioration. This swelling will decrease your battery’s life and may be a safety hazard, so you should have it replaced by a mechanic immediately if you notice this.
4. Your battery has corrosion or film visible on the outside.
This is another reason to take a peek at your car battery every once in a while, especially if your engine is taking a while to start or the check engine light is on in your car. If you notice a white or blue fluffy substance on the external metal components of your car battery, then there are corrosion issues in your battery, which will lower its voltage and efficiency, and cause it to die more quickly.
5. Your battery is more than three years old.
While a car battery can easily last longer than three years under ideal conditions, it is recommended that you have it inspected at least once every three years to test its condition and capacity. This will give you peace of mind that you have a well-functioning battery and help you identify problems before it fails, rather than after. If your battery is more than a few years old and any of the problems on this list occur, it is even more likely that the culprit is a faulty battery.
What to do if your battery dies
If your battery does die on you while you are out somewhere and needs replaced (if you can’t find someone to give you a jump start, a jump start isn’t working, or your car has been requiring frequent jumpstarts and you know the battery just needs replaced), then the most convenient solution is to find a mobile mechanic who can come to you and replace your battery on the spot. With a replacement on the spot from a mobile mechanic, you’ll be on your way with a brand new battery in no time!