Don’t Get Caught Out With A Dead Car Battery: 8 Signs To Look Out For

when to change dead car battery

Your car battery is like the blood of your vehicle that keeps it running effectively. From starting the engine to activating the car GPS, the battery plays a massive role in your car’s functions.

Taking care of the battery ensures that your car runs smoothly with minimum problems. Let’s face it: we’ve all had nightmares about being late to an important meeting just because the car battery decided to die at the last minute.

It’s essential to remember that the battery deteriorates with every use. That is why it’s best to schedule a timely replacement instead of waiting for it to give up entirely.

Your car battery failing out of nowhere can cause a multitude of safety and reliability issues. Therefore, make sure to get it replaced on time, so you don’t have to say, “I wish I knew sooner.”

How Long Do Car Batteries Typically Last For?

Car batteries usually last around three years before they get worn down and become inefficient. However, this estimated age is affected by several factors. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to generalizing how long your car battery will last.

One of the essential factors in the longevity of the battery is the temperature. If you’re living in a moderate climate with little humidity, your car battery may last up to 5 years!

However, things aren’t as smooth for places with scorching heat and sweltering flames.

Since the average temperature in Singapore is higher, it has a considerable effect on the typical age of car batteries.

The heatwaves in Singapore increase the chemical reactions of a car battery. Unfortunately, this deteriorates the performance and reduces the average lifespan of the battery to almost half. Resultantly, the car batteries in Singapore may not last half as long as those in countries with relatively cooler temperatures.

Moreover, your usage patterns, including how often you use your car, also contribute to the way your battery ages. For example, if you use your vehicle for extremely short trips, it won’t give the battery enough time to recharge. On the other hand, if you keep the car parked in your garage for too long, the battery will probably discharge over time and damage your engine in the meantime.

Therefore, it’s essential to check the battery’s health periodically to extend its life as much as possible.

In most places of the world, a common cause for roadside assistance calls is car battery failure. So why do these breakdowns occur? A survey showed that it’s because the batteries were simply too old for their job.

In this article, we’ll look at eight signs to help you identify when it’s time to change your car battery.

1. The Electrical System Isn’t Responding Well

Your car battery deteriorates over time, but once the system gets inefficient to the point it causes hiccups in minor tasks, it’s time to schedule a replacement.

If you notice that your car’s electrical system isn’t responding well, it’s probably a sign of a draining battery. This includes checking whether the headlights work as well as they did initially. Dim headlights usually mean that the battery isn’t able to provide as much power as needed.

Moreover, if the radio and internal lights respond with a delay, it could also indicate a failing battery.

2. You Notice The Battery Terminals Are Corroding

Corrosion of the battery is another sign that it’s time to change your car battery.

Corroded battery terminals can significantly reduce the voltage. As a result, it will be hard for the battery to power the engine enough to start.

To check this, you can open the hood of your car and take a look at the battery terminals. If you notice a white ashy substance accumulating around the terminal connectors, the battery may be well on its way to corrosion.

In such situations, it is best to get the car battery replaced immediately rather than waiting for it to damage other parts of the car.

3. You Notice A Bad Acidic Smell

For some reason, car owners don’t take care of their battery as well as they do for other parts, such as the engine oil. In fact, most people don’t even bother to think about changing the battery till it completely dies out on them.

However, you must know that a deteriorating car battery can severely damage your car. This can lead to accidents, as well as a ton of money spent on repair.

If you notice a burning smell while driving your car, it could indicate that the battery is either leaking or damaged. The odor is almost like a stinky rotten egg, which is the sulphuric acid of the battery.

4. Your Battery Case Looks Swollen

If the casing of your car battery appears to be swollen or bloated, it could result from two factors. First, over or undercharging the battery causes changes in the acid concentration, leading to misshaping of the battery case. Secondly, this could also be because of the excessive heat. This type of swelling is particularly damaging to your car and can even cause the battery to explode if not taken care of at the right moment.

Therefore, if you notice any deterioration of the battery case, schedule a trip to the auto shop and get it checked immediately.

5. It Takes Longer For The Engine To Start

Another common sign of a deteriorating battery is that it takes longer for the engine to start. So basically, if the engine has a cranky and sluggish start that’s similar to a college student waking up after finals week, it’s probably time to get the battery changed.

This delay mainly occurs when the battery finds it hard to provide enough energy to power the engine. Although you may be able to get it to turn on after a few tries, it puts your car in great danger. Once the battery runs out of charge to power the engine, it could turn off at any time while you’re driving the vehicle.

So if you notice that starting the engine is taking longer than average, you’re better off taking a trip to the technician to avoid any potential danger.

6. The “Check Engine” Light Turns On

The “Check Engine” or “Malfunction Indicator” light is probably one that every car owner fears the most. This light often turns on out of nowhere and warns you to take a look at your engine.

There are several reasons for this light to turn on, one of which is a faulty battery. If you notice that the light is on, you should try to find a place where you can safely pull over and figure out what prompted the action. Often, the reason could be something like overheating or a misplaced gas cap, but it could also mean something more severe for the health of your battery.

It is probably in your (and your car’s) best interest to have the nearest auto shop check it out.

7. You Notice That The Battery Fluid Level Is Low

Hot weather affects your car battery in a similar way to how it affects the human body, i.e., they both get dehydrated. Like humans, batteries, too, rely on liquids for their execution. Harsh weather can cause the water in the acid to evaporate rapidly, which could tremendously decrease car performance.

Most car batteries have a transparent case that allows you to monitor the fluid level. If you notice that the level falls below the lead plates, it’s most likely the best time to change your car battery.

8. The Car Battery Is In Old Age

With the latest advancements and innovations in automobile technology, there has been a significant increase in the strain on the car battery. These powerful yet demanding features drain the car battery even when you have the vehicle parked in the garage.

That is why once your car battery crosses the 3-year mark, you should be on the lookout for it to die on you anytime. So keep an eye out for any signs or evidence that could indicate the battery is weakening.

However, not every dying battery shows apparent signs or symptoms. Therefore, it is best to have your car battery inspected periodically at the auto shop.


The deterioration of the car battery isn’t always linear. It may be working perfectly fine and then fall apart rapidly over a few weeks. That is why you should try to get the battery checked out whenever you get a routine service for your car. This will help you catch the problem early on before the battery can cause damage to your engine or other parts of the car.

Check out this list of the ‘Top 10 Car Issues‘ that you should know of as well.