We have all been there. “If only I had known sooner.”. Fortunately, there are various signs and symptoms that your battery may require replacement:
Slow engine crank: When you attempt to start your vehicle, the engine cranks slowly and takes longer to start than usual. It’s best to describe it as the “rur rur rur” starting noise.Check engine light: The check engine light sometimes appears when your battery power is low. Check engine and low coolant lights may signal a problem with your battery. (You may also just need more coolant). Keeping an eye on the battery’s fluid level is easy as most car batteries have a translucent part of their casing. Inspect the battery by removing the red and black caps if they are not sealed (most modern car batteries permanently seal these parts).
The bottom line is: If the fluid level is below the lead plates (energy conductors) inside, it’s time to test the battery and charging system. Overcharging (heat) causes fluid levels to drop.Swollen, bloated battery case: If your battery casing looks like it ate a large meal, it may indicate a bad battery. It is possible that excessive heat is causing your battery case to swell, decreasing your battery life.You may smell rotten eggs (sulfur odor) around the battery. The cause is a leaky battery. It is also common for leaks to cause corrosion on the posts (where the + and – cable connections are located). The gunk may need to be removed or your car may not start.Three years + battery age is considered an old timer: Your battery may last well beyond three years, but, at the very least, have its condition inspected on a yearly basis when it reaches that age. Battery life cycles can range from three to five years depending on the type of battery. However, driving habits, weather, and frequent short trips (under 20 minutes) can drastically shorten the life of your car battery.
CAN I TELL IF MY BATTERY IS TOO OLD?
One thing you can do is check the four- or five-digit date code on the battery case. Look for the letter and digit in the first part of the code. Each month is assigned a letter – like A for January, B for February, and so on. Following the number is a nod to the year, as in 9 for 2009 and 1 for 2011. You can use this code to find out when the battery was shipped from the factory to our local wholesaler. The additional digits indicate where the battery was made. Car batteries last an average of three to five years. There are also signs of a weak battery, such as a slow engine crank or low fluid level. If your battery case is swollen or bloated, if the battery smells like rotten eggs, or if your check engine light comes on, trouble may be ahead.