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What causes a car battery to fail?

In Battery by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

“Do you have a dead battery?” is usually one of the first questions someone will ask when they hear that a car won’t start.

A car battery going bad is a common problem that may leave you stuck at work, outside the store, or in the driveway.

Other possible issues include having a bad alternator or a bad starter.

High quality batteries can have a lifespan of 4 to 6 years. However, due to a variety of reasons, they may stop working correctly.

Reasons why a car battery can go bad

There are many factors that can cause a car battery to fail, aside from age.

Here are a some of the culprits:

  • Charging system: Charging systems that aren’t working correctly can cause batteries to die. If your vehicle’s tensioners are worn out, or if any belts are loose they can cause the alternator to stop functioning.
  • Corrosion: Corrosion can build up on the battery terminals when battery acid combines with other substances underneath the hood of your vehicle. You can prevent corrosion by checking a battery’s water levels and cleaning the terminals and cables. You can use anti-corrosion pads underneath the battery terminals. Learn about other ways to maintain your car battery.
  • Electronics in your vehicle: Vehicles have clocks, computers, alarm systems and electronic modules. If you leave your car sitting for two to four weeks, the electronics can drain your battery. If you’re going to be gone for a while, you can use a battery maintainer that will help it stay charged. You can also have a friend come by and start your car. If your vehicle sits outside, you may want to invest in solar panels that plug in.
  • Leaving your headlights or dome lights: Leaving your headlights and dome lights on drains the car battery. If you’re going to leave your vehicle unattended for long periods of time, make sure these lights are off.
  • Very hot or cold seasons: If you have an old or weak battery, it could die during the winter or summer. Batteries typically go bad during warmer months, because they don’t perform well in the heat. If you live in an area that has extreme hot or cold weather conditions, you need a batter that has more reserve power. They’re going to cost more money, but you should choose a quality battery that has more reserve and is manufactured better over a cheap battery.
  • Weak battery: It’s important to take care of your battery. Those that aren’t maintained properly can weaken more quickly.

If it has been a while since you replaced your battery or you are heading on a road trip, we recommend having it checked. Our technicians can tell if a car battery is going bad using a battery tester. The battery is one of the components they look at when performing a courtesy inspection.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics. 

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Dashboard lights: What do they mean?

In Battery, Tires and Wheels by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

When you first turn the key to your vehicle, a lot of the times you will see dashboard lights turn on as it does a system check.

But when they stay on, the various icons can indicate that there’s a problem.

Here is more information about what the lights mean:

Check engine light Woodbride, Virginia

Check Engine Light

The Check Engine Light can come on for many reasons. When it blinks, there is a more immediate concern with an engine problem that could cause catalytic converter damage. When it’s blinking, in this condition, you should not wait to go to your auto repair shop.

If the check engine light comes on and stays on, the reason could range from a loose gas cap to an internal engine problem. It’s just an indicator that something is going on with a car or truck and should be looked at soon.


ABS light Woodbride, Virginia

Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) Warning Light

Your Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) Warning Light that is yellow indicates that there’s an issue with the anti-lock brake system, which prevents your brakes from locking up in an emergency to help you maintain steering control.



Brake warning light Woodbridge, Virginia

Brake Warning Light

This light is red, which would warn you of a hydraulic brake failure. If this light comes on, you shouldn’t drive your vehicle because you could lose hydraulic pressure and may not be able to stop your car.




Oil pressure light Woodbridge, Virginia

Oil Pressure Alert Light

A vehicle’s Oil Pressure Alert Light means that the engine oil pressure is decreasing. You should stop as soon as it’s safe to do so and check your engine oil.

Before bringing your vehicle to an auto repair shop, make sure that your oil level is correct.


Battery light Woodbride, Virginia

Battery Alert Light

The Battery Alert Light indicates that your vehicle’s battery is short on power. There could be a problem with the battery or it might be charging accurately.

When this icon appears, it could mean you have a bad battery, a bad alternator, an electrical issue or a broken wire.

You should bring it to an auto repair shop to have it checked out.


Tire pressure light Woodbridge, Virginia

Tire Pressure Monitoring Light

When a Tire Pressure Monitoring Light turns on, it’s saying that one of your tires is too low. It may mean that there’s a problem with the tire pressure or tire sensor.

If the light stays solid, it means that there’s a tire pressure issue. If it blinks for a minute before going solid, it’s a sensor or module problem.



Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

Challenges you can face when off-roading in your Jeep & how to be prepared

In Battery, Cabin Air Filter, Cooling System, Fuel System, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire


Jeep overheating problem water pump

If you own a Jeep and enjoy off-roading, then make sure your vehicle is prepared.

Jeep running problem after going through water getting into air intake

“Driving Jeep Wranglers, or any kind of Jeep is fun – especially going off-roading – but one of the things that you have to be aware of is where the air intake is on a lot of these Jeeps,” said Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire owner ST Billingsley.

According to Billingsley, most intake systems are behind the right headlight of the Jeep, and this can be the source of some issues after your off-roading trip.

“So, as you’re driving through a creek, or going through a pond or something like that, and the water starts coming up over that hood, well you know you have a chance of getting that water sucked up in the intake, and if the water goes through too much it can actually damage the engine,” said Billingsley.

Jeep water and mud soaks the air filter causing rough running

You could also see a reduction in your vehicle’s power because the air filter is wet or has mud in it, or it has impacted the connectors to the car’s computer system.

“The computer on that is actually bolted right on the firewall, right next to the battery, so it’s another place that gets a lot of water and mud,” said Billingsley.

Other issues include water and mud on the ignition coils, and overheating with your radiator, as the fans struggle and can’t get air through the radiator, because of mud and water that is stuck. Your water pump can also suffer through similar struggles.

While it may sound bleak, there are things you can do to prepare your Jeep for off-roading, and hopefully prevent some of the issues you could run into.

Jeep battery electrical issues after water damage off roading

“If you are going through creeks or are off-roading, where you can get a lot of dirt and mud inside your vehicle, you want to pay attention to the radiator and wash it out. Also, if you’re going to be going through deep water, you may want to get an air intake relocation kit – you can run a tube up that runs out to the top of the windshield so it gives it an air intake, like a snorkel,” said Billingsley.

How can I maintain my car battery and keep it from corroding?

In Battery, Maintenance by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The battery is one of the most important parts of your vehicle – it gets your vehicle started – and like with all parts of your vehicle, you need to do your best to maintain and care for it. If you don’t, you run the risk of battery corrosion, and ending up on the side of the road.

battery corrosion

Batteries for cars and trucks in Woodbridge, Virginia

So what exactly is battery corrosion?

Corrosion happens on the battery terminals when hydrogen gas is being released from the acid in the battery. This acid mixes with other things in the air under the hood of your vehicle, causing the corrosion you can see.
The battery corrosion can range in color – it can be white, green, and even brown – and the color you’ll see depends on the type of car battery and the metal that the battery terminals are made out of.

And how exactly do you maintain your car’s battery?

Part of how you maintain your vehicle’s battery is determined by the type of battery it is. Some batteries are “maintenance free” which means you don’t need to check the water levels inside.

Battery protection pads BG replace battery Dale City, Virginia

But for those that do require maintenance, you’re going to want to check if there’s water in the battery cells every five to six months. And if you notice that your battery is low on water, make sure you’re refilling with distilled water – not tap water.

Another important piece of maintaining your battery and preventing corrosion is to keep your battery terminals and cables clean. One way of doing this is using a battery terminal protectant spray, which seals and prevents moisture in the battery terminal, and blocks battery acid from escaping from inside the battery.

For preventing corrosion from happening in the battery terminals another method is to use BG Battery Protector Pads. These felt pads are soaked in a chemical, which you then place on the terminals of the battery before reattaching the battery cables to the terminal. While weather conditions can impact the life of these pads, the protector pads often last the life of the battery, and should be changed with every battery replacement.

Battery replace terminal corrosion will need battery cables

As part of normal car battery maintenance, you should be having your battery and alternator checked at least once a year. That way if there’s any problem, a technician should be able to detect it and suggest a replacement. It’s important to get the alternator checked too because if it’s not working properly, it can ruin your battery.

One last thing to be aware of when it comes to maintaining your battery: Be careful when the temperatures are on the rise. Most people think that car batteries go bad during the winter, and while some do, more actually go bad during the warmer months and have to be replaced, because the battery doesn’t perform well in the higher temperatures.

Winter and Your Hybrid

In Battery by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Winter and Your HybridI purchased a hybrid car because I wanted better fuel economy. I didn’t think about hybrids and winter driving. How do frigid temperatures affect fuel economy? Should you change your driving habits in the cold?

A hybrid is going to be more affected by cold than a conventional car. This is because a hybrid relies on a storage battery and a generator for part of its power.

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