Typical Causes of a Car Battery Problem

Everyone is familiar with a dead car battery...

It’s understood to mean your car won’t start.

Typically the cars arrive at my shop with a new battery installed. Usually a failed attempt at fixing what seemed at first a bad battery.

Here are some causes of what you might describe as a “car battery problem”.

A Parasitic Draw

The most common story I hear is, “We had a new battery installed, but we still have to jump start the car in the morning.” In most instances I will measure a larger than normal current called a parasitic draw. A parasitic draw will suck stored energy out of the battery overnight while the car is parked.

It’s common to find a logic module of some kind has failed. Your car is full of logic modules. They control almost everything in a modern car, from interior lights to engine management. When a tiny circuit draws enough current to cause an issue, you might think you have a battery problem.

A Charging Problem

Another kind of symptom you might confuse with a battery problem involves the charging system. When a car battery doesn’t get the current it needs to stay charged, I’ll hear a different story. Many times people describe seeing a battery light on the dash, and the first thing they do is have a new battery installed. What they don’t understand is that many manufacturers use a battery symbol to represent the system voltage, not the battery. It means the cars electrical system is experiencing a low or high voltage for some reason. It does not mean the battery is bad.

In this instance I usually find a problem with the charging system, like the alternator or another part associated with the charging system.

A Starting Problem

Your car may act like your battery is dead even with a new battery when something is wrong with the cranking circuit. The starter needs full battery voltage to run, and any voltage loss due to corrosion or connections will cause a slow or no crank problem. The system needs to know it’s in park so it won’t start in gear. The security system needs to know it’s the right key, that it’s not being stolen. In some cars the starting system needs input from the brake before it will start. A problem in any of these circuits could mimic a bad battery.

The New Battery Could be Bad

Once in a while I see a new battery that is bad. Not often but it happens. It’s a good practice to seek quality when it’s time to replace you car battery.

Lead acid battery technology has been around more than 150 years. If you want more information about your car battery you can learn about it at Battery University. It’s probably all you would ever need to know about batteries.

If it seems you just can’t get your car fixed, call 610-344-7796. We’ll fix it.

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You can Write Me if it’s more convenient for you, but my preferred method of communication is a phone call. I get better insight into your auto electrical problems by talking with you. If you would like me to call you back, Write Me a note with your phone number, and I’ll call you during my normal day 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, Mon. – Fri.

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Keystone Auto Electrical Repair Shop
105 N. Chester Road
West Chester, PA 19380
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