Discover Mechanical

Learn how to monitor and assess the condition of your car battery.

Person testing the condition of a car battery.
Are you worried about the condition or age of your car battery? There are some simple ways that you can monitor and assess the condition of your car battery to help avoid the unexpected hassle of a car that won’t turn over.

When do I need a new car battery?

How do you know when it’s time to buy a new car battery? There are some indicators, or warning signs, to be aware of which may indicate that your car battery is getting too old.

Slow engine crank

When attempting to start your vehicle, if you notice:
  • The cranking of your engine seems sluggish
  • It takes longer than usual to start your engine
These can be indicators that the battery components are wearing out. If this is the case, your battery won’t be as effective as it once was. This is because it isn’t able to supply enough current for the starter, resulting in an engine that’s slower to turn over.

Check engine light is showing on a car dashboard.

Check engine light is on

Sometimes, a check engine light will appear when your battery power is weak. If this happens to you, it can be a good idea to have your battery tested at your local BestDrive, to see if the battery is working at full capacity.

It’s important to note that when the check engine light appears it can signify a number of issues. In some instances, vehicles will have a dedicated warning light that shows you issues specific to your charging system or battery. If you are unsure if your vehicle is equipped with a dedicated warning light, you can consult your owner’s manual.

Low level battery fluid

In some instances, car batteries will have a transparent part of the casing, or a service plug, where you can see the battery fluid level. If this is the case with your battery, take a look to ensure that the fluid level isn’t below the lead plates (energy conductor).
If the fluid is below the lead plates it may be an indication that the battery has been overcharging, which results in overheating. In such an instance, the alternator may need to be replaced as well as the battery.

Swollen or bloated battery case

If your car battery is exposed to excessive heat or cold, it can cause the battery case to swell, which may decrease the life of your car battery. Keeping an eye on the visual appearance of your battery case can help you to avoid unexpected car battery failure.
Corroded car battery terminal.

Leaking battery

If you notice an ashy, white substance around the car battery terminals (the positive and negative metal connections on the top of the battery), you have a leaking battery. The substance is corrosion and as it builds up around the battery terminals it may cause difficulties when starting your car.
You can expect a car battery to last for 3 to 5 years. Once it reaches 3 years of age, monitoring its condition is recommended to ensure that it remains in good condition and performing as it should. 
If you have any concerns regarding your car battery, call into your local BestDrive store for assistance. Our preferred supplier is Century Batteries, Australia’s oldest battery manufacturer, who supply batteries to suit a range of makes and models, including batteries for passenger cars, SUVs and 4WDs. 
BestDrive. You drive, we care.

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