Motorists go into a sheer meltdown whenever they see the dreaded battery sign on the dashboard or when their engine won’t start, after all, the battery is the most important part of the vehicle. Without a battery, the starter motor, ignition and the lights will not start. Issues with batteries are usually the most common reasons for us receiving a call out, especially on cold winter mornings.
If the engine won’t start at all, it is likely that the battery is dead. To resolve this you will either need to charge the battery or jump start it with a pair of jump leads. Be aware that if the vehicle has a charging fault, it may not start in the morning or it may cut out after a short period of time.
However, before you make a diagnosis, you need make a few checks, such as:
- Checking the battery voltage and its state of charge by turning on the headlights. If their brightness is normal, the battery is not at fault. Whereas, if they are dim or don’t come on at all, it is likely that it’s the battery’s fault.
- Check the voltage using a voltmeter. If the battery is fully charged it should be around 12.6 volts with no load, but if the reading is below 12.45 volts it needs to be recharged.
- Check whether the battery is holding charging using a hand held electronic battery tester.
More checks will need to be made if the battery isn’t holding charge, however we recommend that you seek expert advice and this is carried out by an experienced technician as they have the knowledge to be able to diagnose the most complex problems.
Often, the cause of your car battery not working will be completely obvious, such as accidentally leaving your lights or radio on. In this case, you will simply need to jump start it. Once you have jump started you vehicle, you will need to drive it around for approximately 30 minutes to allow time for efficient charging.
If your vehicle is making a clicking noise but is failing to start, a dead battery is likely to be the issue. Also, if the engine is in complete silence when you turn the key, starts then dies or won’t start in cold conditions, the dead battery is likely to be the cause.
Electrical equipment draining the battery is one of the main reasons for it going dead, it may seem obvious but it’s essential that you always remember to switch off the lights and radio etc when you leave your car. Also, the cold weather often causes battery issues.
As batteries charge whilst they’re on the go, they often don’t get fully charged during short journeys, so try charging the battery at home to try and tackle it.
The battery is charged by its alternator, so if there is this is corroded or has a loose connection it can affect the battery. If you suspect there is an issue with the alternator, ensure that you visit a professional.
The life expectancy of a car battery can completely depend on how well it has been maintained and the seasonal temperatures it is kept in. On average, a battery will last for 5 years, however if they aren’t maintained properly it could fail in less than 3 years.
On average, you should replace your battery every 3-4 years to tackle the issue before it fails.
You can be notified if your battery needs replacing by major service reports.
If you need a new battery, simply visit the RAC Shop, where you will be presented with a list of the most suitable options after you have entered your vehicles registration, make and model.