Battery Light On In Car

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Reason #: Bad Battery

Battery Light On In Your Car “Here Is What To Do”

A cars battery usually lasts between 3 to 5 years.

But, as your car battery ages, the electrodes inside it might break, or the electrolyte contained within the cars battery may leak. As a result, the battery voltage generated will decrease.

And with a dead battery, the battery voltage would just drop to zero.

When either of these happens, your dashboard battery light activates to warn you of a bad battery or dead battery.

How Can A Car Run Normally Even If The Dashboard Battery Light Is On

Your car can often run normally even if the dashboard battery light comes on because the car is capable of running off the energy that is already stored in its battery. The car, therefore, carries on running perfectly until its battery runs flat. After that, none of the cars components will work. While the battery light remains on, its still possible to drive to a garage nothing will be damaged. However, youll need to arrive at the garage before your battery fails as otherwise, the car will no longer be able to start and youll have to use jumper cables to get going again.

Headlights On For An Extended Time

If you forgot to turn off your headlights when you parked your car or did not notice that the headlights are still on, you might get the battery warning light on your dash. The engine is not running anymore, so the alternator cant charge the battery. So, the battery goes dead.

The lesson is: do not forget to turn off your headlights or any electrical device once you turn off the engine.

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How To React If Your Battery Light Is On

Ian Swan

The battery light or charging warning light, available on the dashboard of your car, indicates malfunctioning or poor charging of the battery. This light illuminates whenever the charging system does not charge the battery with a voltage above approximately 13.5 volts. As this warning may be triggered by a number of things, it is important to take steps to ensure that you know what the actual issue is before replacing any parts.

  • Note: This article describes a general check of most common car battery vehicle charging systems and some vehicles may be tested differently.

The troubleshooting process can be fairly straightforward, but there are certain issues that only a professional should address. If the problem appears to be complex, or if the process of troubleshooting becomes daunting, call a mechanic to come and perform an inspection.

Heres what you can do when your cars battery light turns on:

What Causes The Car Battery Light To Illuminate

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If a cars battery light illuminates, for many people, their first thought is that they need to replace the battery. However, in most cases involving an illuminated battery light, a faulty alternator is to blame.

A car battery typically lasts from 3 to 5 years. While its possible that the battery light indicates a failing battery, its not a given that this issue is the cause of the problem. Its important to know that there are other factors that could cause the light to illuminate.

Here are a few issues that could trigger an illuminated car battery light:

  • Broken alternator belt
  • Loose serpentine belt
  • Voltage regulator problem the voltage regulator is a component that works with the alternator to help ensure that the car has adequate power
  • Loose battery cable
  • Corroded battery cable
  • Corroded battery terminals the terminals are the electrical contact points that connect the battery to the car
  • Grime buildup on the battery terminals
  • Wiring problem within the cars electrical system

Worn Alternator Belt / Photo Credit: Getty / DZMITRY PALUBIATKA

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What To Do If The Battery Warning Light Is On

If you are driving and the battery warning light comes on, know that you probably dont have much time left of driving before your vehicle dies. Try to get home or to a mechanic as soon as possible.

To get the most out of the juice left in the battery, reduce the accessory load to the bare essentials turn off the HVAC system, dont use power windows, take your phone off of the charger, and sing to yourself instead of using the radio .

Whatever you do, dont turn off the engine until youve reached your destination! The starter motor takes a lot of electricity and if there isnt enough charge in the battery then the vehicle wont start.

Keep an eye on your temperature gauge, as overheating can be an associated issue with charging problems.

How Do I Reset The Battery Warning Light

To reset the battery warning light, park your car in a safe place and turn off the engine. Then turn off all the lights and all the other electrical devices inside the vehicle. After a few minutes, start the engine again.

If theres nothing wrong with the battery, the battery warning light will fade away after the standard self-check when the engine is started.

However, if it stays solid, you must head off to the nearest car service shop so a qualified mechanic can check your battery and recommend the necessary fix.

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Whats The Voltage Of A Car Battery

All standard cars come with 12-volt batteries and circuits, including the component circuitry in electric vehicles. Older models might come with a 6-volt version.

With the engine off, connecting a voltmeter across the terminals of a fully charged battery should give you a reading of 12.6V . When the engine is running, the output should be about 14V .

The battery comprises six 2.1-volt cells, which the eagle-eyed amongst you will note adds up to 12.6 Volts rather than 12. The 12-volt class is a nominal, general term for this kind of lead-acid battery, stemming from the days of 6-volt batteries.

The older 6-volt batteries had three 2.1-volt cells, producing 6.3 Volts. This figure was then rounded down to 6.

The newer, more powerful batteries had six of the same cells, making them twice as powerful. Thus, we call them 12-volt batteries, even though its tempting to round their output up to 13 Volts.

Is It Safe To Drive My Car With The Battery Light On

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If something in the vehicles charge system isnt functioning properly, there is risk of the car shutting off without warning. Its also possible that if the vehicle dies, it might not be possible to start it back up. Because of this, we do not recommend or suggest driving with the battery light on to any place other than back to your house or a service center. If the light comes on before driving, we do not recommend driving.

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What Does The Battery Light On The Dashboard Mean

Every gasoline-powered or hybrid car today contains a rechargeable 12-volt battery. This battery powers everything electrical: the engine’s control computer, the ignition system, the radio, the headlights, etc. So, the battery is vital to the car’s operation.

Like all batteries, a car’s 12-volt battery would eventually go dead if it were not recharged, so your car has a built-in recharging system. The alternator and voltage regulator charge the battery and provide electricity to the vehicle when the engine is running. A typical alternator can put out between 500 and 1,000 watts when necessary.

Because your car is so dependent on the battery, any car with a combustion engine and a 12-volt battery has a light on the dashboard that warns you if the recharging system fails. It looks like a little battery, or sometimes it says “Battery.” A simple circuit looks at the voltage that the alternator is producing and turns the battery light on if that voltage is low. So, the light is telling you“your alternator is not properly charging.” It’s not telling you “your battery is bad or needs to be replaced immediately.” You don’t have enough information yet.

If there was enough juice for you to start the car, then you can safely drive the car on however much charge is remaining, but it won’t last long maybe 30 to 60 minutes max. If the battery isn’t being charged, the electrical systems will start to fail.

What Is A Car Battery Light

Every cars dash has a collection of dashboard warning lights to alert drivers to unusual or unsafe conditions. The battery light is one such alert. You can identify this light by its shape: It resembles the actual battery. Its usually located among the gauges that sit directly behind the cars steering wheel.

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What To Do If Your Battery Light Comes On:

If your battery light comes on, you should immediately turn off everything electrical in your vehicle except for the headlights in order to conserve whatever charge is left in the battery. This includes the air conditioning, heating, stereo, interior lights, heated seats/mirrors, phone chargers and blue tooth accessories.

Watch for overheating and loss of power steering. If either of these events occur, turn your vehicle off immediately.

There are steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue to determine why the battery light has come on:

1. Inspect the battery.Check your vehicles battery for signs of corrosion on or damage to the terminals. Remove any corrosion and make sure the clamps are secure on the terminals.

2. Check the alternator.Take a look at your alternator for any loose or missing electrical connections.

3. Look at the serpentine belt.If you are having issues with overheating and loss of power steering, its likely caused by the serpentine belt. Look for major cracks or breakages in the belt or complete loss of the belt.

4. Check your fuses.Although fuses do not cause direct issues with battery charging issues, its worth looking to see if any fuses are blown and replace them.

5. Test the battery.Once you have worked through these steps, test your battery by starting your engine. If the light turns off, you have likely fixed the issue. If the light remains on, you probably have an alternator issue.


What To Do When My Car Turns The Battery Light On

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Ans: If your cars battery light on while youre driving, turn off all electrical components except the headlights right away. It allows you to conserve the amount of charge left in the battery.

After that, look at the cars battery to see if any loose connections or rusted parts could be the source of the problem.

Clean any corrosion and tighten the connections if necessary. Then, inspect the alternator for any connections that may be defective and repair them. You can also look for a blown or defective fuse that could be causing the flow of energy between the battery and the alternator to come to a halt. If this is the case, the blown fuse should be replaced.

After that, start your car and do a brief battery test. If it begins, youve successfully resolved the problem. If it doesnt, you might have a faulty battery. To do a thorough inspection, you should seek the advice of an auto mechanic.

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Tips For A Functional Battery Light

If your carâs battery light comes on, donât ignore it! Take action immediately to stay away from being stranded with a dead battery. However, here are some tips to avoid such a situation and keep your carâs battery light functioning correctly:

  • Check your carâs battery regularly. An excellent way to do this is to check the voltage with a voltmeter.
  • Keep your carâs electrical system in good working order. This means making sure all of the connections are clean and tight.
  • Use a battery maintainer to keep your carâs battery charged. This will help to extend the life of your battery.

These tips will help you keep your carâs battery light properly functioning. By taking these precautions, you can avoid being stranded with a dead battery.

Inspect The Battery Alternator Serpentine Belt And Fuses

Step 1: Locate the battery, the fuse box and the alternator. Locate the battery, the fuse box behind the battery, and the alternator at the front of the engine.

In most vehicles, the battery is located under the hood. If the battery is not under the hood, then it is either located in the trunk or beneath the rear seats.

  • Warning: Always use safety glasses or goggles and gloves while working on or near a cars battery. Follow all safety precautions when handling batteries.

Step 2: Inspect the battery. Look for corrosion on the battery terminals and any damage to the battery.

  • Warning: If the battery is damaged or shows signs of leaking, it may need to tested by a professional mechanic and replaced.

Step 3: Remove corrosion from the battery terminals. If there is a lot of corrosion on the terminals, use an old toothbrush to scrub it and remove the corrosion.

You can also dip the brush in water to clean the battery.

  • Tip: Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of very hot water. Dip an old toothbrush into the mixture and scrub the top of the battery and at the terminals where corrosion has accumulated.

Excessive corrosion at the battery terminals can cause a low voltage condition which makes the starter turn slowly when trying to turn on your vehicle, but it will not illuminate the battery light if the alternator is charging properly once the car is started.

  • Tip: If the clamps are loose, use a wrench or a pair of pliers, if available, to tighten the bolt on the side.

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Too Many Accessories In Use

Since the vehicles accessories run off of the alternator belt, which is also how the battery is charged, using them in excess can siphon too much electricity, leaving the battery hungry.

This can sometimes occur with an aftermarket sound system that uses an amplifier that consumes more power than the alternator can handle. Usually this is the case when adding a large, power-hungry subwoofer.

Observe The Dashboard After Starting The Engine

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Now, after a few minutes, start the engine again. This time, observe your dashboard and see if the battery warning light will not turn off on your dash.

Each time you start your engine, it self-checks on all its components. The battery also does a self-check. The battery light is on, but the car runs fine.

This light will show up for a few seconds and then fade away. So, if this light shows up during the self-check and fades away, you can reset it. Theres no problem with your battery.

But if the battery light stays solid, you have a problem with your battery. You must bring your car to the nearest car service shop so a qualified mechanic can properly diagnose and fix your battery problem.

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How Conventional Vehicle Batteries Work

Batteries are used to store energy to keep the vehicle and its power accessories working. Chemical energy stored in the battery is how the vehicle can be started initially and then as it runs, the battery is recharged.

Recharging happens when the crankshaft pulley turns the alternator belt which spins a rotor inside the alternator .

The alternator takes kinetic energy from the rotating pulley and converts some of this energy into AC power, which is then converted into DC current and stored in the battery. This energy is then used to power things such as headlights, power windows, heated seats, radio, air conditioner, DVD players, and cell phone chargers.

Note: Older vehicles may use a dynamo instead of an alternator.

The voltage regulator maintains the desired voltage while charging the battery. It is often a component of the engine control unit .

The current flows from one post of the battery, through the accessories, then into the other battery post. Various wires around the engine bay called ground straps connect parts of the wiring harness to the chassis, which help complete different circuits.

A Damaged Alternator Belt

The alternator and crankshaft are connected together by the alternator belt. If yours is torn, loose or bad, the alternator cant function properly. This means that the battery wont get enough charge to power the electrical components of the vehicle and thus, the battery light will illuminate. The only solution to this is to replace the alternator belt.

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Broken/ Corroded Engine Earth Strap

Similar to the loose/ corroded battery connections, a broken or corroded earth strap can also cause a whole range of strange faults on your vehicle. Its a very uncommon but not unheard of fault thats actually quite easy to check for. You can often find one between the body and the engine and one between the car battery negative terminal to the body.

Simply carry out a visual inspection of your vehicles earthing straps and check for any breaks or tears. At either end of the straps, its important that you check for a build-up of corrosion also as this could cause a poor earth connection. Top Tip: Remove fixing bolts and clean up the contact points with a fine piece of emery paper to ensure a good connection. Then refit the strap and fully torque the fixing bolts.

The Battery Light Comes On When Idling And Goes Away When Accelerating Why

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Five Problems Cause Battery Warning Light on Dashboard

Your battery light is an important indicator of the health of your electrical system. If its coming on while youre idling, its likely due to a dip in voltage. The alternator charges the battery while youre driving, so the battery should have no problem staying charged when youre actually using it.

However, when youre idling, the battery doesnt get the chance to charge, and the voltage can drop. Thats why the battery light comes on while youre idling to let you know theres a potential issue with your battery. If it happens occasionally, theres no need to worry. However, if it happens frequently, its a good idea to take your car to a mechanic and have the electrical system checked out.

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