When Car Batteries Keep Dying: Troubleshooting And Repairs

Not sure what's causing your automobile battery to keep going dead? Check out the following tips to find a possible cause.

Have you ever experienced the inconvenience of a car battery that kept going dead? You buy a new car battery, but a few days later your car won't start again. You end up removing the new battery and returning it. The auto parts dealership runs a few tests and tells you there is nothing wrong with the battery. Then you take it to a repair garage and spend more money than you can afford for further evaluation, all the time wishing you knew if you really needed all the parts they say you do.

If you're not sure what's causing your vehicle not to start, here are some things to try on your own. First, check the battery; remember that you have to be careful not to get battery acid on yourself or get shocked as you work on the engine. You will need to remove the cables from the battery terminals. Depending on the car's manufacturer, most of the time you will need to use a one-half-inch open-end wrench. If you don't have many tools, you can use a small, adjustable wrench. Be careful not to strip the nut. Then take a flat tip screwdriver and pop off the caps on top of the battery. See if the fluid is at the top. There are six openings; if any of them aren't filled to the top, your battery will not hold a charge. Some people fill the battery with plain water, but it's better to go to the auto store and buy the proper fluid.

When the battery is full, put the caps back on. Wipe off the area with an old rag that you can throw away if you spill fluid on it, taking care to avoid contact with the acid. Attach the cables to the terminals and make sure they are tight. Turn on and run the engine for about twenty minutes to charge the battery. Always check the cables and terminals before you reattach them, because if they are not clean, your battery won't charge when the car is running. You can buy a battery cleaner tool at any parts store. It is a good idea to clean your battery terminals and cables every three months.

Next, look at your belts and see what kind of shape they are in. Check to make sure they are attached tightly. Press down on the belt with your hand; you should not be able to move the belt if it is on firmly. If loose, you need to tighten it, but if the belt is stretched and worn, it will need to be replaced. This will cause your battery not to charge. If you have worked on cars before, there is an easy way to tell if you have a bad battery. Be careful and first start the car, making sure you don't have the lights, radio, or heater running, or any other accessories. Next, slowly disconnect your battery from the terminals. If it doesn't stay running, then you know the problem is not your battery, because you don't use it after the car is started.

If the battery is bad, it will have to be replaced. But don't plunk down your money for a new one until you have checked out these tips.

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