What causes a car battery to die quickly

Every battery has a lifespan. Even quality, well maintained batteries will still die after some time. However there are often times when a car battery will die quicker than expected. This may be within a few months of purchase well before the expiry of its warranty.

In this post, I will explore the common causes of a car battery dying quickly and how to prevent them.

1. When you discharge your car battery deeply several times

Repeatedly draining your car battery flat like happens when there is with an electrical fault in the car or a parasitic load draining the battery can cause your car battery to die quickly.

Do you have an appliance connected directly to the car’s battery? Is the car engine running? Always check that all appliances connected directly to the battery are switched off when the car’s ignition is off to avoid your car battery being draining flat.

2. Exposing the car battery to extremely low or high temperatures

The ideal temperature range for good battery performance and maximum lifespan is usually between 32°F (0°C) and 70°F (21°C). Should your car battery be exposed to temperatures below 32°F (0°C) with the battery voltage less than 12.5V, your battery’s electrolyte will freeze causing car startup problems. This will likely damage the battery too.

Are you experiencing freezing temperatures? Then get a battery warmer or blanket to prevent your battery electrolyte from freezing to prevent damage.

On the other hand, when the car battery is subjected to temperatures higher than 70°F(21°C), its rate of self-discharge increases and its lifespan may be shortened.

Therefore always keep you car battery in a cool environment. Is your car battery likely exposed and affected by the heat from the engine, then consider purchasing a heat barrier kit (available from amazon) to keep the heat away from the battery.

3. Defects in battery manufacture

Sometimes a car battery will die quicker than expected because of defects in its manufacturing. If you have followed the recommended manufacturer practices for installing your car battery successfully and your car battery has died, then it is quite likely that you have a defective battery. Contact your battery supplier if the battery is still under warranty.

4. Malfunctioning alternator

A malfunctioning alternator can overcharge the battery causing damage to it. A properly functioning alternator should produce between 13.5-14.5V measured at the car battery terminals with the car engine running at least 1,500 rpm. 

If your battery voltage is considerably higher then it is quite likely a case of a bad alternator which can damage your car battery. Have your alternator checked by a qualified mechanic and when confirmed faulty have it replaced with one recommended by the manufacturer.

Related Questions

# 1. What are the signs that car battery is about to go bad?

Sometimes a car battery may show signs of an impending failure giving you some notice to plan for a replacement. Other times, it does not – the car starts immediately one moment and the next, it fails to start.

Fortunately, there are often signs that can serve as an early warning to you that it is about time to replace your car’s battery. I have listed the signs for you.

1. The car’s cranking is slow or hesitant.

A weak or not so crisp start of your car’s engine can be a sign that your car’s battery is about to die and needs to be serviced. Should this happen, first check that it is not a case of an improperly charged or poorly serviced car battery.

If the car’s electrical system appears to charge the battery fully and the battery is well serviced yet the car’s cranking is hesitant then it is likely a case of a bad battery or one that is losing its ability to hold charge.

2. Battery voltage consistently below 12V

When a well serviced fully charged battery is falls consistently below 12V after disconnecting it from the car’s electrical system and standing over night then its highly likely that the battery needs replacement.

3. Battery warranty period has elapsed or expected lifespan has been attained

Whereas some batteries last longer than the indicated warranty period, some users have reported their batteries going bad almost immediately after the warranty period.

Therefore, once the battery’s warranty has expired or its expected life span has been attained, plan to replace your car battery.

# 2. What to do when a car battery dies?

Here is a three steps you can follow once your car’s battery dies:

Step 1: Attempt to jumpstart your car and then run the engine consistently above 1,500 r.p.m to get your battery charged. You may need to do this for 15 or so minutes.

Step 2: Once the battery is fully charged, monitor overnight to check if the battery is able to hold charge. If the engine cranks instantly in the morning, this confirms its ability to hold charge and is therefore still a good battery.

Step 3: Should the battery be drained overnight, then it is highly likely that the battery is not holding charge. This may be caused by a parasitic drain or an electric fault or bad battery.

On the other hand, if the battery is no longer covered by a warranty, then proceed to purchase a well regarded battery from a supplier with a reputation for honoring their warranty claims.

Related Topics

Why you car battery power may be draining
How to avoid overcharging of car batteries
6 reasons why your car battery power may be drained