Understanding the Car Battery | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

Understanding the Car Battery

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Walking out to find your car’s battery dead can start your morning off wrong, make for a long day, and cause an inconvenience for your entire family. The good news is that if your car battery has died, you can oftentimes use jumper cables to jumpstart it from a nearby vehicle. 

Car Battery

If your car battery dies, you won’t be traveling far. The job of your car’s battery is to supply a short burst of high power, just enough to move the engine a couple-hundred rpm. Once the engine starts, in modern cars, the electric starter will disengage. All vehicle electrical systems require power, including the ignition and fuel system, engine and transmission controls, audio and climate control, and more, however, the battery isn’t designed to power for very long. The generator, sometimes called the alternator, then kicks in to generate enough electricity throughout the rest of the car to keep it running and help the battery maintain its charge. 

Why Car Batteries Die 

If you walk out to find your car’s battery dead, you might be wondering what caused it. Unfortunately, there are several factors that can cause a battery to lose its charge. Firestone mentions on their blog seven different reasons you could experience a drained battery:

  1. You left your headlights on. While newer cars have headlights that shut off after a set amount of time, older cars do not have this feature. This means that your lights could be staying on all the time. 
  2. Something is causing a ‘parasitic draw’. Even if your car isn’t on, your battery is still providing power to your clock, the radio, and alarm system if you have it. These things shouldn’t have too big of an impact on the battery, however, other things within your car like the interior lights or a bad fuse could drain your battery. 
  3. Your Barry connections are loose or corroded. The positive and negative terminals connected to your battery can become loose over time, further, they can also become corroded. 
  4. The weather is too hot or too cold. Freezing temperatures or extremely hot days could cause your battery to die. Newer batteries are more weather resistant, but older ones can become weakened with extreme temperatures. 
  5. Your battery isn’t charging as you drive. Your car needs your battery when you fire up the engine, however, when your car is running it relies on the alternator to stay charged. If your alternator isn’t working correctly, it won’t power your battery as it should. 
  6. The trips you take are too short. It takes a lot of power from your battery to start the engine, so if you’re frequently taking short drives, the alternator might not have enough time to properly recharge your battery. 
  7. Your battery is old. Sometimes, your car’s battery can last up to five years, but long trips and weather conditions can shorten that lifespan. If your car is dying often, even after jump starting it, you need a new battery. 

How to Jumpstart Your Car

If your car’s battery has died, the good news is that, in a lot of cases, you can jumpstart it. To safely jumpstart your car, follow these steps

  1. Take out your jumper cables. A good rule of thumb is to always have a set of jumper cables in your car. 
  2. Find another vehicle to help you out. Place both vehicles in park or neutral and shut the ignition off in both cars.
  3. Attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery.
  4. Place one of the black clips to the negative terminal on the other battery.
  5. Attach the last black clip to an unpainted metal surface of your car that isn’t the battery. 
  6. Start the working vehicle and let the engine run for a couple of minutes.
  7. Try and start your car that has the dead battery. 

Call Scott’s Auto

Don’t take any chances! Swing by and let us test your battery for free today. If you find that your battery keeps dying regularly, our team of professionals at any of our locations can help you today. 


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