You expect your car to start when you get behind the wheel and turn the key.
But this depends on whether or not your car battery has enough power to do the job.
If you accidentally left your headlights on, your battery could be very low or dead. It’s easy to jump-start your car, but is it bad for your battery to be dead or run down?
When a car battery is used up to just under 90 percent of its capacity, it can start to break down in a big way. As the battery’s power decreases, lead sulphate will build up on the plates, making it unable to hold a charge and causing other damage on the inside.
You may think that your car battery can only handle one deep discharge before it dies, but that is not the case.
Thanks to the new technology that goes into making batteries today, your car battery may be able to survive up to 12 deep discharges before it can no longer hold a charge.
Obviously, this depends on whether you bought a top-of-the-line battery for your car or a cheap one.
Can a Car Battery Become Unable to Charge?
As you just learned, there may come a time when you can no longer charge your car battery in a way that will last.
For example, if you leave your battery in a car that hasn’t been driven or turned on for at least two weeks, you might assume that the battery still has all of its power. But, sadly, that’s not what’s going on!
Instead, its charge is slowly being taken away by a process called a parasitic draw. In these situations, your car’s other electronics, like the clock radio and anti-theft system, still need electricity to work.
Over time, this parasitic draw will make your car battery much weaker than you expected.
In general, the more modern your car is and the more it depends on electronics, the more parasitic draw there will be
If you want your car battery to last longer, you might want to take it out of the car and put it on a shelf.
But even if you do this, your car battery will still lose power because of something called “self-discharge.”
But a lead-acid battery will only lose 5% of its power every week. This means that it probably won’t die and stop holding a charge before you put it back in your car.
Can a Completely Drained Car Battery be Recharged?
If you turn the key in the ignition and don’t hear anything, it’s likely that your car battery is completely dead.
Even though this seems like a dead end, it’s not.
In fact, a completely dead car battery can still be charged if the right conditions are met.
First, you should use something called a “voltmeter” to figure out how dead your battery is.
When your battery is fully charged, the voltmeter will show at least 12.4 volts.
If it’s less than that, you’ll probably need a jump start or a special battery charger to give your battery power again.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your car’s alternator will eventually charge the battery when it’s completely dead.
If you sit behind the wheel and keep turning the key, you will waste your time and probably hurt your alternator, which will cause yet another problem.
Also, your battery could get damaged, which makes it less likely that it will hold any charge you give it.
If the voltmeter reads 12 volts or less, it means that your battery is completely dead.
Even though a jump start will likely get you back on the road, it’s likely that the charge won’t last when you turn off the engine again.
A battery charger should be used to keep the charge going.
When using the dedicated charger, you shouldn’t have to take the battery out of the car unless it’s in a hard-to-reach place.
What Do I Do if I Drained My Car Battery?
If you realise you ran down your car battery by leaving the headlights on or by using it to power something else, like an appliance, the first thing you should do is not panic.
If your battery isn’t too old and hasn’t given you any trouble before, you should be able to get it charged.
If you need to get on the road quickly, a jump start should work as long as there is another vehicle nearby and you or someone else has starter cables.
But since your battery may only hold this initial charge, you may want to use a battery charger to give your battery its full power.
If you use a voltmeter to check the strength of your car battery and find that it has around 12 volts or slightly less, you may be able to rely on your car’s alternator to get you back on the road.
You might be able to get your car to start by turning the key less than 10 times.
If you do, you can drive your car for about 30 minutes with as few electrical devices on as possible. This includes turning off the radio, heating and cooling systems, lights, and anything else that uses electricity.
By doing this, the alternator can focus all of its energy on charging the battery.
Should I Replace My Car Battery After it has Drained?
If your car battery died and you were able to charge it back up, that doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy a new one right away.
If your battery is only a year or two old and has been working well so far, charging it should be enough to keep it going for a few more years.
But if your battery is old or has been drained more than once, you might want to think about replacing it with a newer one.
Remember that even the best car battery on the market today can usually only be completely drained of power 12 times before it has to be thrown away.
Could My Battery Not be the Problem?
Yes. In fact, a faulty starter or alternator can show signs that are very similar to those of a dead battery, so many drivers think their battery is dead when it’s really just a faulty starter or alternator.
So, before you rush out to buy a new battery or charge the one you already have, make sure it’s the battery that’s broken.
You can figure out why your car won’t start by using a voltmeter.
Since your car battery is like the heart of your car, it’s important to take care of it.
By checking for buildups of lead sulphate, making sure cables are properly connected, and double-checking that you turned off the headlights when you got home from work or shopping, you can hopefully avoid a situation where your car battery dies completely.