What Drains a Car Battery?
A dead car battery can be annoying, but it can also be avoided. To help prevent a dead battery, you first have to know what causes one. So, put those jumper cables aside, and check out these seven things that could explain why your car battery keeps dying.
1. You left your headlights on.
If your car battery keeps draining, the first things to check are your lights. Many newer vehicles have headlights designed to turn off after a certain amount of time. But if your car doesn’t have this feature, your headlights may stay on until you either turn them off or till your car battery is completely drained.
2. Something is causing a “parasitic draw.”
Even while your car is off, your battery provides power to things like the clock, the radio, and the alarm system. These things shouldn’t have a major impact on your battery. What may drain a car battery when it’s off, however, are things such as interior lights, door lights, or even bad fuses.
While your engine runs, the alternator recharges the battery — which is why you typically don’t have to worry about the battery dying while you’re blasting the radio on your drive to work! But when the engine is off, the alternator can’t recharge the battery, allowing little electrical mishaps to drain your battery entirely. The battery strain caused by these electrical whoopsies is known as a parasitic draw.
You can help avoid parasitic draws by turning off every light and making sure your trunk, glove box, and doors are fully closed and latched before leaving the car.
3. Your battery connections are loose or corroded.
The positive and negative terminals connected to your battery can sometimes jostle loose over time. These terminals may also become corroded. If your terminals become loose or corroded, you might have trouble starting the vehicle because your battery can’t properly transmit its power! You could even stall out while driving or damage the vehicle’s electronic components. You can help prevent corrosion-related problems by regularly cleaning your car’s battery terminals!
4. It’s extremely hot or cold outside.
Freezing winter weather and hot summer days may cause problems for your vehicle’s battery. Newer batteries tend to have more resistance to extreme seasonal temperatures. But if your battery is older, intense cold or heat could weaken its performance or even cause it to die completely! If you notice your battery having a hard time braving the elements, come into Firestone Complete Auto Care for a free battery check — our auto technicians will help diagnose and troubleshoot the issue.
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5. The battery isn’t charging while you drive.
Your car relies on your battery when you fire up the engine. But when your vehicle is running, your battery relies on the alternator to help it stay charged. If your alternator isn’t working correctly, it can’t power your battery effectively, which can make it hard to start your car even if you were just driving!
If your car won’t start after driving, there’s a chance it might be your alternator. Bring your car into a Firestone Complete Auto Care for a diagnostics check to find out what the problem could be.
6. You’re taking too many short drives.
Cranking the engine takes a tremendous amount of power from your battery, but as mentioned previously, the alternator recharges your battery while the engine runs. If you’re frequently going on short drives, though, the alternator might not have enough time to properly recharge your battery between pit stops — especially if you have an older battery. In the long run, frequent short trips can shorten your car battery’s lifespan.
7. Your battery is old.
Nothing lasts forever, including your car’s battery. In some cases, your vehicle’s battery could last up to five years, but that depends on where you live and how you drive. Extreme temperatures, frequent short trips, and general everyday use could shorten the life of your battery to two to three years. If your car battery dies quickly, even after a jumpstart, it might be time for a new one.