The Most Telltale Signs You Need a New Car Battery Right Away

May 21st, 2020 by

Car owners have to maintain so many different vehicle components, and it can be hard to keep track. Oil changes, new tires, filter replacements… and what else? Oh yeah — the battery!

The car battery is an often-overlooked car part even though it’s responsible for starting your car and keeping the electronics operational.

The last thing you want is your headlights shutting off while you’re on the road. That’s why it’s better to replace a battery as soon as it starts showing signs of aging.

Not sure if your battery is on its last legs? Here are the most common signs you need a new car battery.


1. Trouble Starting

In Canada, most drivers have difficulty starting their vehicles from time to time. That’s because car batteries are less effective in cold temperatures. Even so, a healthy battery with a robust charge should have the power to get everything up and running.

Do you know when you turn the key in the ignition and hear a click or two? These common car sounds come from your starter. With a weak battery, your vehicle may not have enough power to charge the starter and put your engine into gear.

However, sometimes trouble starting your car can occur due to the starter itself rather than the battery. If you’re not sure, you can have a local shop perform a battery health test.


2. Strange Electrical Issues

If something is going wrong with your car’s electronics, your battery is likely at fault. Weak headlights are clear signs your car battery needs replacing. As car batteries age, they lose charge capacity and can no longer transmit as much energy as before.

Over time, this can cause your headlights to appear weak even at night. If your headlights are giving you trouble, they could be cloudy, so inspect those first before messing with the battery.

Other electrical issues are more indicative of a battery problem — and much scarier. You might notice all the lights flicker or activate on your dashboard. It’s enough to assume something has gone terribly wrong with your vehicle.

But it’s more likely your car battery is on the fritz.

In some vehicles, the Check Engine light may appear to indicate your battery is nearly drained. Remember that you should always bring your car to a mechanic when the Check Engine light appears. They’ll be sure to test the battery during the inspection.


3. Corrosive Buildup

Rather than waiting for signs, you need a new car battery, be proactive and pop open the hood. You may find clear evidence on the battery itself.

Old car batteries are known to leak acidic fumes or liquid. As they age, small cracks may appear that allow acidic substances to escape. Thankfully, the presence of acidic materials is easy to spot.

On the positive terminal, and sometimes at the negative, you should see a fluffy, crusty buildup. In most circumstances, this film will take on a blue colour and may sometimes appear yellow as well.

This build-up isn’t just unsightly, but it also taxes your battery. That’s because acidic residue adds resistance to the system and effectively reduces its voltage.

With the proper knowledge and safety precautions, feel free to clean the gunk off the battery for an immediate performance increase. That said, it’s better to replace the car battery at this point. Over time, more acidic substances will continue to leak through the degraded battery.


4. Sulphurous Odor

A healthy car battery should never emit gases or liquids in any form. But if yours does, you’re sure to smell it. Damaged and overcharged batteries release hydrogen sulphide.

Like most sulphurous chemicals, it smells like rotten eggs.

This acidic gas can slowly corrode other engine components. But it probably won’t get to that point. You’ll smell that something is off while you’re driving since it can seep into the cabin.


5. Disfigured Battery

Of all the signs you need a new car battery, this one is the most obvious: it’s completely disfigured. Extreme temperatures can warp and damage even a healthy battery, but it’s far more likely to occur in those weakened by years of use.

Don’t remember what your battery is supposed to look like? Most are rectangular. If yours isn’t or seems swollen on one side, locate a replacement battery immediately.


How Long Should a Car Battery Last?

Car battery lifespans vary across models and conditions. In a perfect world, your battery should last anywhere from three to six years.

The tail end of this estimate assumes ideal conditions, which you won’t find in most regions of Canada. Extreme temperatures in any direction will deteriorate your car battery, and its working life will suffer as a result. If you live in the northern regions, there is a good chance your battery won’t last beyond the 3-year mark.

However, if you live near the border or own a heated garage, then six years is a real possibility.

Beyond extreme temperatures, this estimate also assumes you drive your vehicle on a regular basis. Your alternator recharges your battery as long as the vehicle is running. Higher speeds lead to better charge times.

If you leave your vehicle idle for months at a time or never surpass city driving speeds, your battery will lose charge faster than expected.


See the Signs You Need a New Car Battery?

If you notice the signs you need a new car battery, you should arrange for a replacement right away. Otherwise, you may be surprised when your vehicle refuses to start a few months later. A mechanic can also test your car battery charge if you think it may be on its way out.

Want to test your car battery or enjoy a seamless car battery replacement? Schedule auto service at Viking Motors to make sure everything is road safe.