Inside Your Car 24 November 2021

Everything you need to know about car batteries

 

Responsible for delivering a zap of electricity to get you moving, your car battery is the heart of your vehicle. It works in the background, often overlooked until something goes wrong. While your battery may appear to kick the bucket out nowhere, there are some symptoms of a failing battery to look out for. The more you know about your battery the better - take a few minutes now to learn more about this essential component and care for your car the way it deserves.

Your Guide to Car Battery Types

Battery Type

 Key features

Benefits

Where to use it

Flood Cell Battery

  • Liquid electrolyte solution of sulphuric acid and water

  • The most common type of car battery

  • Affordable

  • Standard, older style cars

Enhanced Flooded Battery

  • An enhanced version of standard Flood Cell Battery

  • Uses same liquid electrolyte solution

  • Improved lifespan - lasting approximately 85,000 engine start-ups compared to 30,000 of Flood Cell Battery

  • Better charge acceptance

  • Standard vehicles

  • Cars with stop/start technology 

Calcium Battery

  • Has added internal plates for strength

  • Calcium component is added to positive and negative plates

  •  Longer lifespan

  • Requires less maintenance

  • Higher corrosion resistance and decreased amount of self-discharge

  •  Longer lifespan in weather extremes

  • Great for drivers who want their battery to go longer without needing to be charged

Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) Battery

  •  Fibreglass separator absorbs electrolyte solution like a sponge and keeps it in its place.

  •  Can be repeatedly charged and discharged without performance loss

  • Maintenance free

  • Longer lifespan than flooded cell batteries

  • Great for powering demanding vehicles with accessories like large audio systems or heated seats

  • Stop/start vehicles

Lithium-Ion Battery

  • Battery is charged and discharged by lithium ions moving between negative and positive electrodes

  • Completely rechargeable

  • Lightweight which means more travel distance on one charge

  • More expensive, but lasts longer (between 10-20 years)

  • Faster charging times

 • Hybrid or Electric Vehicles

Which battery do I use?

Finding the right battery for your car is important - the wrong one can do more damage than good. If you’re looking to replace your battery, check the owner’s manual to find the specifications before taking a stab at replacing it yourself - or better yet - drop into mycar and take advantage of our expertise.

Quick tip: Short on time? Match your new battery to the old one.

Your car battery lifespan explained

Car batteries will generally last between two and six years under ‘normal’ conditions. However, there are a few factors that can impact your car battery lifespan, including temperatures, driving habits and driver error.

How much is a car battery?

The price of a car battery will depend on your vehicle. For a standard battery, the cost is anywhere from $100 - $150. A premium battery on the other hand will set you back anywhere between $175 up to $450.

Common car battery issues

More often than not your car battery just seems to stop working out of nowhere. However, if you look a little closer there are a few signs that your car battery is on the way out.

  • Slow engine crank. If your car takes a little longer to turn over, then it’s a sure sign you might have a wearing battery on your hand.

  • Dashboard light. This is the most obvious sign in the form of the battery light on your dash. If your car doesn’t have a battery light, your check engine light may come on instead.

  • Low battery fluid or leaks. If you can smell something similar to rotten eggs, it may be your battery fluid leaking from the car.

  • Dim headlights or dash lights. If your lights are looking a little dim the battery may not be giving them the energy they need to be bright.

  • Physical symptoms. Sometimes the easiest way to tell if something is going wrong with your battery is to look at it. Look for signs of rust or a bulging battery case. Corroded car battery terminals are one of the main culprits behind a dying battery. Look for a white, blue or green substance with a powdery texture.

 

How to test a car battery

You can easily and accurately test your car battery from home using a device called a multimeter. Don’t have any equipment? Perform a quick check using your headlights.

  • Without starting your car, turn on the headlights.

  • Leave the headlights in the ON position for 15 minutes.

  • Start your car.

  • Watch the brightness of your headlights. If they look dimmer than your battery may be on its way out.

The best way to test a car battery is to take it to a trusted mechanic. With the right tools, they’ll be able to accurately diagnose any battery problems.

 

Signs of a bad battery vs alternator

Your battery is responsible for getting your car started. The alternator keeps it running by sending a current back to the battery to charge it. While both parts play different roles, the warning signs of a bad alternator are very similar to a bad battery. Signs that your alternator is on its way out include:

  • Cranking problems or frequent engine stalls. If your car starts but struggles to keep running, then the alternator is likely to blame.

  • Dimming headlights and interior lights. If your lights start but dim as your car runs then they may not be getting enough power.

  • Malfunctioning accessories. A failing car alternator can disrupt the electric system in the car, impacting accessories like your stereo system and power windows.

  • Growling or squealing noises. Loud noises are never a good sign. If they get louder when the heater or stereo is on then your alternator may be to blame.

  • Burning smell. The alternator belt, an overworked alternator or even damaged wires can all produce a burning smell.

  • Warning light on dashboard. The check engine light is a sure sign of a bad alternator. You may also notice that your dashboard lights are flickering caused by a failing alternator that is struggling to supply power.

The most accurate and easiest way to tell whether you have a bad battery or alternator is to visit the team at your local mycar. Our experts will be able to accurately diagnose your car problems and help get you back on the road again. For all your alternator and battery questions answered, give us a call on 13 13 28.

Need to book in with us?

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