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Five Signs Your Car Battery Is Dead (or About to Die)

Your vehicle’s battery is like its heart: without it, your vehicle doesn't have the power to start, move, or do anything else. So it's important to understand at least a little bit about your battery and to know the most common signs that needs to be replaced.


The typical battery, in vehicles made in 1952 and later, is a “wet-cell” battery, a plastic cube containing sulfuric acid and lead, with two terminals coming out of the top or the side. This short guide should be reliable unless you have an aftermarket battery with special needs, such as a dry cell battery, or a hybrid like a Prius.

In my years as a mechanic, one thing I have learned is that an old battery or loose battery cables can cause really big problems that make it appear that something complicated is wrong with your vehicle. Even experienced mechanics and DIY'ers are sometimes stumped by a simple problem with a battery past its prime, until they realize they've ruled out all other potential problems (and then some!). That's one of those "d’oh!" moments, when you realize you could have saved yourself an hour of diagnostic and repair time, just by checking the battery and its cables.

1-Your engine cranks but doesn't start.
2-No crank, no start, no lights!
3-One day it starts fine, then next day it won't.
4-Cold cranking is hard work.
5-You've jumped it a lot already.

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Five Signs Your Car Battery Is Dead (or About to Die)

Your vehicle’s battery is like its heart: without it, your vehicle doesn't have the power to start, move, or do anything else. So it's important to understand at least a little bit about your battery and to know the most common signs that needs to be replaced.


The typical battery, in vehicles made in 1952 and later, is a “wet-cell” battery, a plastic cube containing sulfuric acid and lead, with two terminals coming out of the top or the side. This short guide should be reliable unless you have an aftermarket battery with special needs, such as a dry cell battery, or a hybrid like a Prius.

In my years as a mechanic, one thing I have learned is that an old battery or loose battery cables can cause really big problems that make it appear that something complicated is wrong with your vehicle. Even experienced mechanics and DIY'ers are sometimes stumped by a simple problem with a battery past its prime, until they realize they've ruled out all other potential problems (and then some!). That's one of those "d’oh!" moments, when you realize you could have saved yourself an hour of diagnostic and repair time, just by checking the battery and its cables.

1-Your engine cranks but doesn't start.
2-No crank, no start, no lights!
3-One day it starts fine, then next day it won't.
4-Cold cranking is hard work.
5-You've jumped it a lot already.