Car Battery Problems: When Is It Time for a New Battery?

Don’t let a dead car battery strand you on the side of the road

Warning signs that may indicate your battery is on the fritz

“If I only knew sooner.” Yep, we’ve all been there before. Fortunately, there are a few symptoms that may indicate your battery needs attention. Before it’s too late.

  1. Sign 01

    Slow engine crank:
    When you attempt to start the vehicle, the cranking of the engine is sluggish and takes longer than normal to start.

  2. Sign 02

    Check engine light:
    The check engine light sometimes appears when your battery power is weak.

  3. Sign 03

    Low battery fluid level:
    Car batteries typically have a part of the casing that’s translucent so you can always keep an eye on your battery’s fluid level. If the fluid level is below the lead plates : (energy conductor:) inside, it’s time to have the battery and charging system tested.

  4. Sign 04

    The swelling, bloating battery case:
    If your battery casing looks like this you can blame excessive heat for causing your battery case to swell, decreasing your battery life.

  5. Sign 05

    Battery leak:
    Leaking also causes the corrosion around the posts : (where the + and – cable connections are located.: ) The gunk may need to be removed; otherwise, your car may not start.

  6. Sign 06

    Old age:
    Your battery can last well beyond three years but, at the very least, have its current condition inspected on a yearly basis when it reaches the three year mark.

Top Questions and Answers.

How could a battery drain overnight?

Batteries can do a lot of things while we’re not looking. The most common way a battery will drain overnight is by leaving a light on or a power adapter plugged in, zapping all your battery power while you’re fast asleep.

Your battery can also drain overnight if there are faulty electrical components or wiring. If this might be the case, let us check it out so we can resolve the problem and get you rolling again.

What factors will affect the life of my car battery?

So, you want to know if your battery will last three years or, better yet, five years, eh? Well, that all depends on your driving habits, plus the year-round climate in your area.

  1. Short Trips. Shorter battery life. If you take many short trips (less than 20 minutes), your battery won’t have enough time to fully recharge, shortening its overall life expectancy.
  2. Extreme temperatures kill batteries. The dog days of summer take the biggest toll on your battery. Scorching temperatures — and even freezing temperatures — can shorten battery life. A lot of times, waiting until the deep freeze of winter to replace your battery is often too late. The cold weather could pretty much make that heat worn battery dead on arrival.
  3. Find your region. Discover the average battery life.
Battery Life Expectancy Zone

Quick Steps:

  • Use our Virtual Battery Tester and discover how long a car battery will typically last in your specific make and model vehicle.
  • Price out your next Interstate Battery. Discover the exact price and the Interstate Battery designed for your vehicle.

What are the warning signs that my alternator is failing?

“If I only knew sooner”. We’ve all been there before. Fortunately, there are various indications and symptoms that your battery may need replacement:

  1. Slow engine crank: When you attempt to start the vehicle, the cranking of the engine is sluggish and takes longer than normal to start. You’d best describe it as the “rur rur rur” starting noise sound.
  2. Check engine light: The check engine light sometimes appears when your battery power is weak. Strange system indicator lights – such as check engine and low coolant lights – could mean there’s a problem with your battery. (It could also just mean you need more coolant).
  3. Low battery fluid level: Car batteries typically have a part of the casing that’s translucent so you can always keep an eye on your battery’s fluid level. You can also inspect it by removing the red and black caps if they are not sealed (most modern car batteries now permanently seal these parts).
    • Bottom line: If the fluid level is below the lead plates (energy conductor) inside, it’s time to have the battery and charging system tested. When fluid levels drop, it’s typically caused by overcharging (heat).
  4. The swelling, bloating battery case: If your battery casing looks like it ate a very large meal, this could indicate a battery gone bad. You can blame excessive heat for causing your battery case to swell, decreasing your battery life.
  5. Eww, there’s a stinky, rotten egg smell: You may notice a pungent, rotten egg smell (sulfur odor:) around the battery. The cause: Battery leaks. Leaking also causes the corrosion around the posts (where the (+) and (–) cable connections are located.) The gunk may need to be removed; otherwise, your car may not start.
  6. Three years + battery age is considered an old timer: Your battery can last well beyond three years but, at the very least, have its current condition inspected on a yearly basis when it reaches the three year mark. Battery life cycles range from three-to-five years depending on the battery. However, driving habits, weather and frequent short trips (under 20 minutes) can drastically shorten the actual life of your car battery.

Help your battery life with the little things.

Imagine waking up to a dead car battery. It isn’t fun. At all. But because batteries can do stuff when we’re not looking, we need to help them go the distance. That means turning off all interior and exterior lights when exiting your ride. It’s important to unplug power adapters, too. Naturally, we’re also here to keep watch. Our Early Detection Analyzer determines how much life is left in your battery. If something is awry, Firestone Complete Auto Care technicians are pros at delivering a fix.

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