Understanding Automotive Brake Parts and Services

Is Your Vehicle's Battery Bad?

Do you think that your vehicle's battery is going bad, but you don't know what to do about it? If so, it will help to know some of the warning signs and ways to test a vehicle battery.

How To Tell If A Battery is Going Bad

There can be several warning signs that you have a problem with your vehicle's battery. One of the most obvious problems is that the service battery light is lit up on your dashboard. Thankfully, this light has an error code associated with it that can tell you what is wrong with it. For example, error code P0561 indicates that the voltage coming out of the battery is unstable. 

You may also have problems with the engine cranking when you go to start it up. The engine may crank very slowly due to not getting enough power, or the engine doesn't have the power to crank at all. The engine may also produce a clicking sound and the engine doesn't start.

Another problem that is easy to notice is that your interior lights or headlights are weaker than normal. If the voltage coming out of the battery is low, these lights will struggle to get to their peak brightness 

How To Test A Vehicle Battery

You can then test the battery by using a voltage meter, which is simple enough for you to use on your own. Start by turning on your headlights for a couple of minutes before you do any testing. This will cause the surface charge that the battery currently has to burn off. Then shut the lights off, pop the hood of the vehicle, and access the battery.

The red cable of your voltage meter will connect to the positive lead of the battery, which should be red in color as well or have a plus sign next to it. The black cable of the voltage meter is for the ground cable, which connects to the similar black cable on the battery or the one with a negative sign next to it. 

You'll want to set the voltage meter to the 20 DC volts setting. If the voltage falls between 12.3-12.5 volts, then you know that the battery can hold a charge. However, it may not have the cold-cranking amps to start the vehicle. 

Try to start the car and see what the voltage changes to. The voltage should drop down but then go back up as the alternator starts charging the battery. If the voltage drops below 10 volts, then the battery could be in need of replacement. If the voltage only goes down to 11 volts or so, then the battery is working properly. 

For more information about battery testing, contact a local professional.