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4 Common Problems With Car Batteries

Austin Winder
The car’s battery is one of the most important components under the vehicle’s hood. Maintaining its upkeep regularly would be the wise course of action, but most of us forget about it until one day we turn the ignition and experience a dead battery. Why do vehicle batteries go bad? Let’s discuss 4 common problems that occur with car batteries.

Lights Left On

Many times cause of a dead battery is headlights left on for an extended period. The culprit can also be an overhead interior light that was left on when one of the car doors was not completely shut.
The solution is as simple as the cause. Try making a habit of double checking the headlights after turning the car’s engine off. Also, making a quick sweep of all the car interior lights to verify they are off and all the doors are shut securely.

Cable Corrosion

Corrosion occurs on battery cables due to hydrogen fume release from battery acid. A simple inspection of the car’s battery may reveal corrosion buildup. It is vitally important to remove corrosion because it can interfere with the battery’s ability to receive and emit electrical currents thereby causing the battery to lose the ability to recharge.
However, always use caution when handling corrosion by wearing gloves and other protective clothing. The white caustic powdery substance can burn holes in clothing and cause damage to the body.
Luckily, dealing with corrosion is as simple as keeping your batteries well-watered and taking the time to clean corrosion buildup on a regular basis. An automotive mechanic can easily resolve these problems for you during a routine checkup, but it’s also the sort of thing a regular car owner can tackle with a little guidance and the right tools.
What you’ll need is a toothbrush or a bristled alternative and a solution to remove corrosion. 
  • Dip the toothbrush into the solution and gently brush the battery cables, terminals and other surrounding affected areas.
  • The solution can be washed off with a mixture of baking soda and water. It is strongly suggested to wear gloves and protective clothing when handling battery acid to protect from direct contact.

Loose Cables or Wiring Connections

Loose battery cables and wiring are a common problem and can be caused by a few things.
  1. Potholes and uneven roads can overtime cause the loosening of many of the vehicles’ components including battery terminals and electrical wiring.
  2. Incorrect installation.
  3. The change from cold to hot weather can cause the terminal to expand and contract.
Unsecured cables and wiring can interfere with the battery’s voltage and its ability to establish a continuous electrical circuit. Over time the battery’s power can begin to drain and eventually weaken to the point that it completely dies.
The solution can be simple as tightening the loose battery terminals. However, if the battery is not the culprit the next suggested step would be to allow a trained professional mechanic to perform a test on the electrical circuitry of the car.
The reason being that, the alternator, starter or other electrical parts could be just as likely cause a short in the electrical circuitry. An automotive mechanic will have the proper tools to tract down a break in the engines electrical current.

Alternator and Voltage Regulator Problems

The car’s battery, alternator and voltage regulator all work in harmony to complete the electrical circuit of the vehicle's charging system. Once the battery has been omitted as causing the problem, the next step would be to have the alternator tested.
A local auto parts store may be able to perform a test on the alternator to determine if it is running under peak performance or is completely bad.
The solution may be as simple as replacing the voltage regulator which is usually very reasonably priced. In the worst case scenario, you would need to replace the alternator completely which could start as low as $100 and go up significantly from there depending on the vehicles make and model.