While most motorists are probably aware that winter’s icy chill can be tough on a car’s battery, car-car experts caution that summer’s sizzling temperatures can be just as taxing on this critical component. Excessive heat tends to evaporate battery fluid, which can damage its internal structure.
That makes the fall an ideal time to take stock and have your vehicle’s battery checked (or replaced) before you’re stranded on a cold winter’s morning with a car that won’t start. In the meantime, here are seven signs the battery may be on its last legs:
- The “check engine” light is on. This sometimes happens when a battery is becoming weak, but you shouldn’t wait for the dashboard warning light to tell you things are going awry.
- The engine cranks slowly. Does your starter sound sluggish – like a murmured and belabored groan? Do the headlamps dim when you turn the key or press the start button? Or, does it take longer than normal to get the engine running? Theses are all solid signs you should head straight to the mechanic shop. The battery is usually at fault, but there may be other mechanical issues that need to be addressed, too.
- Battery fluid is low. Some of today’s car batteries allow owners to check the fluid level via small translucent windows. If the fluid so low you can see below the lead plates that make up a battery’s inner structure, have a technician check the battery and charging system to ensure both are in good operating condition.
- The battery is leaking. This is manifested by excess corrosion at the battery terminals, which are the two posts to which the battery cables are connected. You might also notice a rotten-egg-like smell. Again, it’s best to take the car in to the shop and have the battery inspected to ensure it will continue to hold a charge.
In the meantime, though, you should clean them a using a soft wire brush dipped in ammonia or baking soda (be sure to wear gloves as a precautionary measure) then flush them with clear water.
- It just doesn’t look right. If the battery case appears swollen or bloated, it’s probably suffered damage as a result of excessive heat, and its days are numbered.
- You’ve had to jump-start the car a number of times already. Auto care experts suggest that if you’ve had to resort to jumper cables to start your car or truck more than three times in a single week, the battery needs replacing.
- Your battery is at least four years old. A car battery usually lasts anywhere from three to five years, depending on the model and one’s driving habits (taking frequent short trips can shorten its life). Replacing an older battery is the best and cheapest insurance to prevent being saddled later with a vehicle that won’t start.
Even if your car or truck starts up just fine, you should have the battery checked as part of a regular inspection at a trusted, local shop like one of Jack Furrier Tire and Auto Care’s 14 locations.
For more than 55 years, Jack Furrier Tire and Auto Care have been providing the Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley and Sierra Vista communities with excellent auto services. They were even voted “Best Auto Repair Shop,” “Best Tire Store,” “Best Locally Owned Business” and “Best Customer Service” in the Arizona Daily Star’s 2016 Reader’s Choice awards.
To find the Jack Furrier Tire and Auto Care location nearest you, visit JackFurriers.com.