When a car battery is going bad

One of the worst things that can happen when you’re out on the road is a dead car battery. Not only is it a hassle to get your car started again, but it can also be dangerous if you’re stranded in an unfamiliar area. But how can you tell if your car battery is going bad? And what can you do to prevent it from happening?

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First, it’s important to understand the signs of a dying car battery. One of the most obvious signs is difficulty starting your car, especially in cold weather. You may also notice that your headlights and other electrical components are dim or flickering when you’re driving. In some cases, your battery warning light may even come on.

If you suspect that your car battery is going bad, it’s important to take action right away. Ignoring the issue can lead to a completely dead battery, leaving you stranded and in need of a tow. But what steps can you take to prevent this from happening?

Regular maintenance is key to ensuring that your car battery stays in good condition. This includes keeping the terminals clean and tight, as well as checking the battery’s voltage and charging it if necessary. It’s also important to avoid leaving your car sitting for long periods of time without starting it, as this can drain the battery.

Signs of a Failing Car Battery

1. Slow engine crank

If you start noticing a slowdown in your engine’s cranking speed, it might be a sign of a failing battery. This happens because the battery can no longer provide enough current to turn the engine over at the proper speed.

2. Dimming headlights

When the battery is failing, you might also notice dimming headlights during driving or starting the car. This could be a sign that the battery is no longer able to power the electrical systems properly.

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3. Warning light on dashboard

3. Warning light on dashboard

Your car’s dashboard has a battery warning light that illuminates when something goes wrong with the battery. You should take it seriously as it indicates that the battery isn’t getting charged properly or it needs to be replaced.

4. Corroded terminals

4. Corroded terminals

If you notice that the battery terminals are covered in a white, powdery substance, this could be a sign of corrosion. The corrosion can impede the flow of electricity to and from the battery, reducing its effectiveness and longevity.

5. Swollen battery case

Swollen or bloated battery case is a sign of overheating or overcharging and can eventually lead to a battery failure. This happens when the battery is exposed to extreme temperatures or prolonged use without rest.

In conclusion, if you notice any of these signs, it’s important to have your battery checked by a professional and replaced if needed. Don’t wait until your car doesn’t start!

Dimming Headlights

What is dimming headlights?

Dimming headlights refer to car headlights that appear to be less bright than usual. When a car battery is going bad, it can affect the power that is supplied to the headlights, causing them to dim.

Why do headlights dim?

Why do headlights dim?

Headlights can dim due to several reasons:

  • A weak battery
  • A damaged alternator
  • A faulty voltage regulator
  • Loose or corroded connections

If you notice your headlights dimming, it’s important to have your car checked to determine the cause.

What should you do if your headlights start to dim?

What should you do if your headlights start to dim?

If you notice your headlights dimming, you should take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. Ignoring the problem can lead to bigger issues in the future, such as a dead battery or alternator failure.

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It’s also a good idea to avoid using any unnecessary electrical features in your car, like the radio or air conditioner, until the problem has been fixed.

Proper maintenance of your car’s electrical system, including regular battery checks and clean connections, can help prevent dimming headlights and other electrical issues.

Slow Engine Crank

Slow Engine Crank

What is Slow Engine Crank?

Slow engine crank means that when you turn the key in the ignition, the engine cranks slower than usual. It feels like the battery is weak and can’t provide enough power to the starter motor.

Causes of Slow Engine Crank:

  • Weak battery
  • Corroded battery terminals
  • Bad starter motor
  • Loose or damaged alternator belt
  • Low voltage in the electrical system

What to do if you experience Slow Engine Crank?

What to do if you experience Slow Engine Crank?

If you experience slow engine crank, you need to diagnose the problem to determine the cause. If it’s a weak battery due to old age or lack of maintenance, you need to replace it with a new one. If it’s the corroded battery terminals, you need to clean or replace them. If it’s a bad starter motor, you need to replace it. If it’s the alternator belt, you need to tighten it or replace it. If it’s the low voltage in the electrical system, you need to check the charging system or the alternator.

Unusual Smells

Battery Smells like Rotten Eggs

Battery Smells like Rotten Eggs

If you notice a strong odor of rotten eggs coming from your car battery, it could indicate a problem with the battery’s sulfuric acid. The smell is caused by hydrogen sulfide, a compound that is produced when the sulfuric acid breaks down. In some cases, this can also be accompanied by a white, powdery substance around the battery terminals.

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What to do: If you notice this smell, it’s essential to have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic. Avoid touching the battery with your bare hands because the powdery residue can be toxic. Also, ensure that the battery is properly secured and that the vent tubes are in good condition.

Battery Smells like Burning Plastic

A burning plastic odor coming from the battery could indicate that it’s overheating, which can be caused by several factors including overcharging or a short circuit. This smell may also be accompanied by smoke and even flames.

What to do: If you notice this smell, stop driving immediately and turn off the engine. Do not attempt to remove or touch the battery with your bare hands. Call for roadside assistance or have your vehicle towed to a repair shop for a professional inspection.

Battery Smells like Gasoline

Battery Smells like Gasoline

If your car battery smells like gasoline, it could be a sign of a fuel system leak. Fuel vapors can react with the battery’s sulfuric acid and produce this distinct odor. This smell may also indicate that your engine is running too rich, meaning it’s consuming too much fuel and not burning it efficiently.

What to do: If you notice this smell, have your vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic as soon as possible. Do not attempt to start the engine until the source of the gasoline smell is identified and repaired to prevent serious safety hazards.

Frequent Jump-Starts



Frequent jump-starts are often a signal that your car battery is on its last legs. Jump-starting a car requires a lot of power, and the battery may not be able to keep up if it’s already weak.

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Another cause of frequent jump-starts is leaving electronics plugged in for extended periods of time or overnight. This can drain the battery and make it difficult to start the car the next day. Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can also affect the battery’s performance and lead to the need for frequent jump-starts.



If your car battery is frequently needing jump-starts, it’s time to get a new one. Trying to prolong the life of a dying battery will only lead to more frustration and inconvenience down the road. A new battery will not only save you from the hassle of jump-starting your car, but it will also ensure that you have reliable power to start your car every time.

To help prolong the life of your new battery, be sure to unplug electronics when they’re not in use and avoid leaving your car parked in extreme temperatures whenever possible.

  • Consider investing in a battery charger/maintainer,
  • Practice good driving habits such as avoiding short trips and turning off electronics when the engine is off,
  • If you’re in an area where extreme temperatures are common, consider purchasing a battery with a higher cranking amp rating to compensate.


How can I know if my car battery is going bad?

There are several signs that indicate that your car battery is going bad, including slow engine crank, flickering dashboard lights, unusual odor, and a bloated battery case.

What is the average lifespan of a car battery?

The average lifespan of a car battery is typically between 3 to 5 years, but this can vary widely depending on the usage, the climate conditions, and the maintenance of the battery.

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Can I test my car battery at home?

Yes, you can test your car battery at home using a multimeter or a battery load tester to check the voltage and the capacity of the battery. However, it is recommended to have your battery checked by a professional at least once a year.

What should I do if my car battery dies?

If your car battery dies, you can jump-start it using jumper cables and another car. You can also replace the battery yourself if you have the necessary tools and knowledge, or take it to a mechanic for a replacement.

How much does it cost to replace a car battery?

The cost of replacing a car battery can vary widely depending on the type and the size of the battery, as well as the location and the labor costs. Typically, a new car battery can cost between $50 to $200.

Can extreme temperatures affect my car battery?

Yes, extreme temperatures, especially cold weather, can significantly affect the performance and the lifespan of your car battery. It is recommended to take special precautions and maintenance during winter months.

What is the best way to maintain my car battery?

The best way to maintain your car battery is by keeping it clean, checking the voltage and the water level regularly, driving your car frequently, and avoiding extreme temperatures and stress on the battery. You can also use a battery tender or a trickle charger to maintain the voltage and extend the lifespan of the battery.

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Olivia Nelson

As a female driver, it’s always concerning when my car starts to show signs of trouble. This article is a lifesaver for anyone who has experienced a failing car battery. The author does an exceptional job of outlining the warning signs and symptoms, which can help us take action before we get stranded on the side of the road. I found the suggestions for ensuring a long-lasting battery particularly useful. Making sure to start the car regularly, keeping the battery clean, and avoiding extreme temperatures are all things that I will definitely keep in mind. This article serves as a great reminder of the maintenance needed to keep my car running smoothly. Thanks for the informative piece!

Joseph Campbell

As a male driver, I always keep an eye on my car’s battery. It’s crucial to know when it starts to show signs of wear and tear. The article made it clear that several things can indicate that a car battery is going bad. However, I would have appreciated more advice on how to prevent such battery issues in the first place. The section that explained how extreme temperatures can affect a battery was quite informative. Overall, this article was interesting and a good reminder to keep my car battery in check and to replace it when necessary.

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Ava Wilson

As a female driver, knowing when my car battery is going bad is crucial for my safety and peace of mind. The article provides great insight into the signs of a bad battery, such as a slow engine crank and dim headlights. I appreciate the tips on how to extend the life of my battery, such as avoiding short trips and turning off non-essential electronics. It’s also helpful to know that extreme temperatures and age can contribute to a failing battery. Overall, this article is a great resource for any driver looking to stay proactive about their car’s maintenance.

Julia Roberts

As a female driver, I found this article on car battery problems very informative. I now know that there are several signs to look out for when a car battery is going bad, such as slow engine crank, the check engine light coming on, and the need to jump-start the car frequently. It’s a relief to know that there are ways to prevent this from happening, such as keeping the battery terminals clean and checking the water levels regularly. Overall, this article has given me a better understanding of car batteries and how to maintain them properly. Thank you for sharing this helpful information!

William Jackson

As a male driver, I found this article on When a car battery is going bad to be incredibly informative. I’ve always been worried that my car battery could go bad at any moment, and now I know the signs to look out for. The tip about checking for corrosion is especially helpful, as I never knew that could be a sign of battery issues. I appreciate the explanation of how extreme weather conditions, such as both extreme heat and cold, can affect a car battery’s lifespan. This article is a great resource for any driver looking to take better care of their vehicle and avoid unexpected breakdowns.

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