OK, so you probably take your vehicle's battery for granted. Turn the key or push a button and it starts right up. During times of warmer weather, you probably think your battery can take it easy. But it may surprise you to learn that hot weather can be much harder on a vehicle's battery than cold. So it's wise to know what condition your battery is in BEFORE you find out the hard way—being stranded by a dead battery.
Your vehicle's battery won't last forever; an average battery will last 3-5 years. When's the last time yours was replaced? You probably have no idea. Your vehicle will usually give you some hints that it's in need of attention. See if any of these are familiar:
- your engine doesn't turn over as quickly as it used to
- your headlights are a little dimmer
- your Check Engine or Battery dashboard light is on
- you hear a click when you try to start your vehicle
- some electrical equipment in your vehicle isn't behaving the way it used to
- your engine smells like rotten eggs
- the terminals on your battery are corroded
- your battery was made more than 4 years ago
Even if there are no signs your battery is on its last legs, it's a good idea to have it periodically checked at your vehicle service facility, at least once a year. A technician will check the date it was made (it's on the battery's case). They'll inspect your battery, cables and connections, looking for corrosion, bulges in the battery or any other abnormal signs.
Using special diagnostic equipment, the technician can run some tests on your battery and vehicle's electrical systems. They can measure how fully charged your battery is and how much potential it has to hold a charge. Then, your service advisor will tell you how much more life to expect from your battery or recommend it be replaced.
It you need a new one, your service advisor can recommend options for you. Important factors include brand, warranty, where the terminals are on the battery, the ability to handle different cranking loads and temperature ranges. Bet you didn't know vehicle batteries can be that different!
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