Cable corrosion on car battery.

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.