It’s a fact of life that all batteries die, and that’s probably why most people immediately blame them when their vehicles fail to start upon turning the ignition key.
While it’s true that an engine not coming to life could be attributed to a dead battery, it’s just one of the many reasons such a thing happens. For all you know, the culprit could be a faulty starter or a bad alternator.
If you think it’s a dead battery that’s causing you trouble, then you need to troubleshoot it to be doubly sure. You don’t want to be spending money on a new battery, only to find out later that the culprit is actually some other engine problem.
Whether the battery is for your car, motorcycle, lawn or farm equipment, or ATV, here are some tips for troubleshooting what you suspect to be a dead battery.
Check battery connections.
Take a closer look at the battery terminals, cables, and connectors. Check if all cables are securely connected, because if not, then it’s likely the reason your vehicle won’t start.
Corroded connections can also cause your battery to fail, so look for signs of corrosion like white, green, or blue blooms, and clean them up using a water and baking soda mix and a wire brush.
Check the water level.
Assuming that your vehicle has a conventional unsealed lead acid battery, you might want to check the water level. If it’s low, then it might be causing your battery problems, since it can reduce its power. If you need to, get some distilled water and fill the battery with it.
Find power vampires.
GPS units, cellphone chargers, car alarms, non-factory stereos, and any external gadget you plug into your vehicle depend on your battery for power. If your battery seems to be dead, then it’s probably because you forgot to shut any of them down properly.
If you find GPS units, cellphone chargers, and other external devices still plugged in, then pull them out. You might also want to check the glove box or trunk light and see if they remained lit the entire time. Do what you can to disengage these power vampires, and try starting your vehicle again.
Test the voltage with a multimeter.
There is one sure way to determine if your battery is dead or not: test its voltage. Get your multimeter and connect the black lead to the negative battery cable, and the red lead to the positive cable.
Your battery has a good charge if the multimeter reads 12.45 volts or greater. When it’s lower than that, you may have to give the battery a full charge, then find out if it will hold a charge by getting a load test done. You can get this test, the results of which will determine if you need to replace your battery or not, performed by mechanics and auto parts stores free of charge.
If you’re still experiencing problems with your battery after doing all of the above, then it’s very likely that you already need a new one.
Lauren Fernandez is the Content Marketing Strategist for Renegade Battery, a power sport batteries manufacturer based in Goodyear, Arizona that supplies batteries for motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles & jet skis all over the US. When not writing, she makes use of her spare time doing trail runs and reading books.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.
Photo attribution: VIRIN: 101023-F-3074W-025.JPG (AF.mil)