How Can I Tell When My Car Battery is Dying?

Tips & Support
If you own a car long enough, you'll eventually need to replace your car battery, but is there a way for you to know if your car battery is dying? One of the easiest ways to get some idea of how your car battery is doing is to measure the voltage of the battery directly at the battery terminals. This can be done with a voltmeter available at any auto parts store, but we realize not everyone may have access to one of those. The OPTIMA Digital 400 battery charger & maintainer pictured above can also measure battery voltage and it also does a great job of charging and maintaining batteries, which can help extend battery lifespan.

Fully-charged 12-volt batteries should measure at least 12.6 volts. If you measure your battery voltage and find it to be something less than 12.6 volts, it's worthwhile to fully recharge the battery with a quality battery charger (alternators are not designed to recharge deeply-discharged batteries. While measuring battery voltage is a good first indicator of how close a battery is to dying, an even better option is taking your battery (or your vehicle with your battery in it) to a quality battery professional, who can load test your battery for you and many offer this service for free.

Another sign your battery may be on it's way out would include the engine turning over more slowly when you go to start your car. Many folks assume a battery in need of a jump to start a car would be another sign of a battery that is about to die, but that's not always the case. In fact, in many cases, those batteries are just in need of a full recharge. The problem many folks run into, is that they falsely assume jump-starting their car will resolve their discharged battery issues, when all that typically does is kick the electrical can down the road. In many cases, the alternator won't have enough time to put a proper amount of electricity back into the battery, so the driver will get into a cycle of dead batteries and jump-starts, until either the battery actually does die (expensive) or the alternator dies (even more expensive).

Regular use of a quality battery charger or maintainer can help extend battery lifespan and keep you car ready to drive when you need it.