July 12th, 2020 by Fix Auto USA
The car battery doesn’t get much respect.
After all, your hardworking battery provides power for most of your car’s electronic bells and whistles, including your charging dock, speakers, and navigation system.
And then, next thing you know, seemingly out the blue, your car battery keeps draining and not long after that it’s dead.
When your battery dies, it can be very stressful. But you tell yourself, it was bound to happen. It must have been its time. No use blaming yourself, right?
Well, yes and no.
Batteries indeed die of old age, lasting four years on average.
But you are not off the hook entirely. In fact, there are plenty of things you can do differently to extend the life of your beloved battery. But first, it may be helpful to know what drains a car battery.
What drains a car battery?
Here are nine common mistakes that could be draining your car battery:
1. Not being present
Often times the issue is that we’re tired or not as focused or as attentive as we should be.
We’ve all been there, whether it’s leaving our headlights on because of distraction, forgetting to turn off the interior lights, or closing the trunk or the door all the way. Only to discover the next morning that it sucked all the juice out of the battery, and now your car won’t start!
2. Poor maintenance
Batteries also die of a broken heart – well, let’s call it negligence. Examples: not maintaining your battery, allowing corrosion to eat away at it, and never cleaning it. No wonder your car battery keeps draining!
3. Battery corrosion
Your car battery is going to have problems if it, or the alternator, becomes corroded or accumulates dirt. That’s a sure way to shorten its lifespan; also, loose battery cables can impair the electrical current transfer to the battery, making it harder to start your engine.
Make sure you check your battery for corrosion and clean the negative and positive connections on the terminal with a cloth or brush.
4. Old age
Another mistake drivers make is forgetting to replace their battery. When it reaches old ages, your car battery keeps draining and will eventually die. Generally speaking, you should replace your car battery every three or four years.
5. Parasitic drain
You want to know what drains a car battery? One culprit is a parasitic drain, which occurs when other parts of your car, like your radio or car alarm, drain power from the battery even after the car is turned off. What should you do about car battery draining when off? This is often due to an electrical malfunction. To find out if the parasitic drain is depleting your battery, take your car in to your local auto mechanic and let a professional inspect it for you.
6. Too many short trips
Do you take a lot of short drives, each time starting your engine, and then soon after shutting it down before the alternator has time to recharge your battery? If so, that can take its toll on your battery and cause premature death.
7. Bad ignition relay
The ignition relay is essentially an electrical device that works as a switch for the power to the ignition system. Its job is to make sure electricity flows from the battery to the different components that need power. A bad relay will drain your battery and make it difficult to start the ignition.
8. Faulty alternator
Another mistake is not recognizing when the problem is not your battery but a damaged alternator. The alternator recharges the battery and gives it life, and the battery cannot survive long with a faulty alternator. The alternator’s belts could be loose or its tensioners frayed, impairing its ability to function properly.
If your alternator is not working correctly, it can deplete your battery, even while driving. Just using your lights or radio could accelerate the depletion of your battery, because they receive their power from the alternator.
9. Deterioration from weather
Another common mistake is not realizing how extreme temperatures affect your battery.
If a battery gets too hot, its internal liquids could evaporate, and its components could become corroded, depleting the battery’s power. The heat actually accelerates the corrosion process, weakening the battery and causing it to prematurely age.
When winter comes around and the air turns cold, your pre-exhausted battery must work extra hard to power your car. Many batteries do not survive the winter.
How to check if car battery is good
How to check if car battery is good; that is the question. Here are some things to consider:
Check the battery terminal. If it’s clean and not terribly corroded, that’s a good sign.
How does your car start? If it starts right away, that’s another good sign that your battery is good.
Check your electronics, including the radio, automatic windows, and interior and exterior lights. If they are working well and the lights are not dimming, your battery is probably okay.
Your car battery is definitely an unsung hero. It does so much and asks for little in return. Now that you know specifically what drains a car battery, you can avoid these mistakes and extend the life of your battery.
If your car battery keeps draining, take it in to your nearest auto mechanic and let a trained technician perform a battery performance test for you. They know precisely how to check if car battery is good. If it needs replacing, they’ll let you know.
This blog post was contributed by Fix Auto Crystal Lake a leading industry expert and collision repair shop servicing customers in Crystal Lake, IL, and McHenry County neighborhood.