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Simple steps to see if your car is losing battery.

Finding the source of a car battery drain can cause serious complications to a car if discovered too late for repair. Thankfully, we’ve compiled some excellent tips so you can discover if your car’s battery needs a charge… or how to correct a battery’s problem before it gets out of hand. With this being said, here’s a look at how one discovers a problem with their car’s battery life.

Where To Start

For starters (no pun intended) you need a voltmeter with the car’s ignition – and lights – turned off. A voltmeter is the only way you’ll be able to know how well your battery is performing, so knowing how to read one is crucial for deciphering your conundrum. The first step to getting the device ready is by:

Making sure that the red/positive is connected to the red/positive on the voltmeter. A positive will have the plus (+) markings to identify the difference between the two connectors on the battery.

Then, connect the negative/black terminal to the negative/black connection on the voltmeter. A negative connection will be marked appropriately with the (-) sign so you can identify which end it is.

Battery’s State of Charge

Now that the most difficult part has been taken care of, the small chart below will help you understand if you battery is in need of a charge – or replacement – in the near future.

12.66v =100%
12.45v = 75%
12.24v = 50%
12.06v = 25%

11.89v = 0%

Another thing to keep in mind regarding the charge numbers above is that these are taken at 80 degrees. What this means is that battery readings drop 0.01 volts for every ten degrees below the 80 degree temperature.

Is My Car Battery Low?

A simple question would be whether or not a battery is in need of a charge once your numbers are retrieved. With this being said, if your battery is sitting less than 12.45v, you’ll need a charge as your battery is fairly low. Simple ways to charge your battery would be driving the car at 40 mph for fifteen to twenty minutes or using a portable battery charger to keep it running in top shape. One thing that should be noted is the ideal battery charge is 75% to 100% for the first few days to ensure a prolonged lifespan for the battery.

Car Batteries & Cold Weather

Cold weather can definitely stress and ruin a battery, with the end result significantly shortening a battery’s lifespan. Most of this is due to the fact that oil gets thicker during cold temperatures… which leads to more amps to start an engine. In addition to this, cold weather also weakens the battery in terms of the amps the vehicle can use to power itself.

Testing Your Battery: Good or Bad?

The only way you can know if your battery is good or bad… is by testing it yourself! A good battery is a battery that can hold its charge and export an efficient amount of amps to the rated output it was capable of from purchase. As the average lifespan of a car battery is four to five years, it means that if your battery is having a hard time carrying a charge… it may be time for a replacement.

It should be noted that a battery with a low – or even dead – battery doesn’t have to be replaced… and it doesn’t mean it has failed your car. Even though the best batteries can become worn out for a number of reasons, with some of these instances arising from situations such as leaving lights on, prolonged vehicle inactivity, issues with charging system/alternator, or even electrical issues within the car itself.

So regardless of your car battery’s current stance on charging, one should take active effort in making sure their battery is readily active to ensure a prolonged lifespan. Enrolling in traffic school or applying for a defensive driver’s course will not only help you understand logistics of battery charging or upkeep, but apply the knowledge of driving safer to avoid instances of breaking the law during your travels. The knowledge of laws and safety can go a long way in terms of automobile lifespan… which result in more miles on the road for you and your travels.

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