Why Do Car Batteries Die?

Why Do Car Batteries Die?
| By: Christian Brothers Automotive

Your vehicle relies on the battery under the hood for everything. And we mean everything. From running your radio to starting your engine, the battery is a crucial component of your vehicle’s operation. And although batteries have seen great advancements in the last decade or so, they are still prone to failure and a variety of malfunctions.

But why do car batteries fail? The answer to this popular question includes many different reasons, ranging from age, corrosion, alternator problems, extreme weather conditions, or the classic case of headlights being left on. We explain why these common problems affect your vehicle’s battery on our auto repair blog.

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2021 to represent improved industry technology and standards.

Common Reasons Car Batteries Die:

  1. Old Battery: On average, car batteries last anywhere from 3 to 5 years. The older your battery is, the more likely it is to malfunction and leave you without power.
  2. Corrosion: Due to the constant use and contact of the metal terminals on your battery, they will oxidize and corrode after a while, causing them to wear out. This weakens the connection between your battery and the electrical system. Your battery won’t be able to supply as much power and will age more quickly due to the increased resistance between the battery terminal and electrical lead.
  3. Alternator Problems: Your battery is not a continual supply that runs out slowly over time. It relies on your car’s alternator, which helps recharge it after use. The alternator, when working properly, takes the energy your engine produces and turns it into electricity using a generator that feeds back into your battery. When your alternator stops working properly, your battery will not be able to charge and will die quickly and often.
  4. Extreme Weather Conditions: Batteries are designed to work best in a comfortable, moderate temperature range. This means that hot and cold temperatures can cause severe strain on batteries. If the battery is exposed to severe cold temperatures, the electricity cannot pass through the system as easily, making it tough to output enough voltage to start your car until the battery is back to the optimal temperature. If it’s too hot, the battery wears out more quickly. Just like the other fluids in your car, the essential fluids in your battery can easily evaporate if the temperature outside is hot enough. Additionally, the corrosion process speeds up in hotter conditions and is even worse when your battery is low on fluids.  
  5. Leaving Lights On: Your headlights use considerable battery power, which is a current your battery can only sustain for a short period.

If your vehicle is experiencing any of these battery problems, we invite you to book an appointment at your local Christian brothers automotive, and our expert technicians can help!

Is It Possible For Car Batteries to Die a Slow Death?

Modern batteries are made to be extremely strong. They provide a lot of turnover power, even in the cold, up until they are no longer capable of working – which is great news! But, even with this, it’s important to ask: Can a car battery just die without warning? Absolutely. 

In the past, when your battery was weakening, you would have plenty of warning. You’d crank the key and your car would turn slower and slower before finally firing. This allowed you to get a new battery before it stopped running completely. Unfortunately, because today’s modern batteries run strong, they run right until they give out – which doesn’t give drivers proper warning signs before they go out.  

If you’re worried that your battery is nearing the end of its life, try these at-home diagnostic tests to be sure:

  1. Listen carefully to your engine as it turns over every morning. If the crank sounds different or slower than usual, your battery may be about to die.
  2. Attempt to turn on your car’s accessory mode and operate your windows (or another high-power feature). If your windows move sluggishly, a dead battery may be in your immediate future.

Christian Brothers Automotive’s Battery Services

At Christian Brothers Automotive, our mission is to create an uncommonly great experience for guests in need of auto service and repair. Our highly-trained, certified technicians offer upfront, honest, and practical advice for your car, emphasizing accuracy and realistic solutions for whatever issue you might be having with your vehicle. Each location is locally owned and operated, serving communities across the country. If you are looking for a new car battery, need to schedule preventative maintenance, or require any other type of auto care, we are here for you when you need us.

Search our interactive map here to find a location nearest you.

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