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How to tell if your car battery needs replacing

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQ, Service, Tips and Tricks on Thursday, February 28th, 2019 at 8:00 am
Mechanic testing a car battery

Bitterly cold temperatures can really take a toll on your vehicle, especially the battery. The cold can slow your battery down and make it seem as though it’s operating slower than usual. Essentially, the harsh temperatures we get in Wisconsin force your vehicle’s battery to work harder by slowing down the chemical reactions happening inside the case. The good news is many batteries that are made specifically for cold climates have a “cold cranking amp” or a CCA number. The higher the number, the better the battery is for frigid temperatures. That said, how do you know if your battery needs replacing or it’s just the winter chill that is making your car’s battery appear more sluggish?

There are a variety of signs, including a slow engine crank, an illuminated check engine light, the battery doesn’t look “right” and flicking/dimming interior lights.

Your car’s engine takes longer than normal to start

Mechanic putting a battery in a car

In extreme cold, your vehicle might take a second or two for the engine to turn over. But if you are noticing that the vehicle is slow to start on a normal basis, then it could be a sign that your battery is near the end of its life. If you have to wait a minute or longer for the car to start, then a visit to the mechanic is essential because that battery may only have enough life for one or two more engine starts.

Read More: Does all-wheel drive help in snow?

The check engine light is illuminated

A check engine light could mean one of more things. But if your vehicle is experiencing other signs of battery issues, including slow engine start, the smell of rotten eggs or fading interior lights, then it could mean that it’s time for a new battery. Either way, it’s important to get your vehicle to your mechanic for a checkup.

You notice the battery itself looks “off”

An old battery can bloat or even leak, which are all signs that it needs to be replaced. You may notice corrosion around the (+) and (-) posts on top of the battery or even that the case itself is swelling. Another symptom of a battery leak is a rotten egg smell inside the cabin or under the hood of the vehicle. These are all indications that your battery has seen better days and could use replacing.

The vehicle’s interior lights dim

Have your car’s cabin or dashboard lights started to dim while you’re driving? Perhaps when you are starting the vehicle? These could be signs that your car’s battery is dying and needs to be replaced.

Read More: How to stop rust from spreading on your car

These are some of the many common symptoms that we see when a vehicle needs a new battery. That said, vehicle issues aren’t always this straightforward. Dimming interior lights and a slow engine start could also be symptoms of other automotive issues. If your vehicle isn’t acting normally, it’s a good idea to get it checked out.

How often should you replace your car’s battery?

Even if your car’s battery isn’t having any issues, it’s important to replace it every three to five years or to at least get it tested. Once a battery hits the three-year mark, it’s considered old. Hot Wisconsin summer and brutal winters really take a toll! The best thing you can do to ensure your vehicle’s battery is working normally is to get it tested every year. Stop by Le Mieux Toyota for a fast battery check. Save time by making an appointment online today!

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