8 Things That May Be Draining Your Car Battery

What Drains A Car Battery

Your car battery is essential for helping your vehicle start up and operate smoothly, but it doesn't last forever. Just like other types of batteries, the one for your car has a limited amount of charge in it. And while all car batteries will eventually need replacements when they run out of charge, certain factors lead to faster drainage.

Whether you want to be more aware of what energy you're using while driving or you want to know what might be causing charging issues in your vehicle, we have the guide what drains a car battery and some tips on how to fix some of these common issues.

Reason #1: Leaving Lights On

One of the biggest things that can quickly drain your battery levels is forgetting to turn off your headlights. Additionally, leaving doors open or keeping overhead lights on, too, can remove battery power, especially if you leave it be for an extended amount of time, such as overnight.

Thankfully, a lot more recent models of vehicles, be they cars, SUVs, small trucks, or otherwise have ways to let you know if you've forgotten to turn off lights, or even automatic sensors that will shut them down after a set amount of time. People with older vehicles won't have this convenience and thus should pay attention.

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Reason #2: Electrical Issues

While many electronic components of vehicles always stay on (such as the clock or security alarms), others should turn off whenever you pull the key from the ignition. Sometimes, however, there can be a glitch or wiring error that keeps these features running even when they're not supposed to, just like forgetting to turn the lights off. These are known as "parasitic drain" situations.

If you've been having battery issues, it can be worthwhile to pay extra attention to how your vehicle behaves after you've shut it down, just in case. Sometimes things like glove box lights can be the cause, even if you didn't turn those on yourself.

Reason #3: Battery Is Weak or Poorly Maintained

If your car battery is already weak with a low charge level, then it can potentially drain dry from the intentional, ongoing electric functions, such as your clock. If that happens, you can find yourself suddenly unable to start up your car the next time you turn the keys.

Failure to keep up with regular battery maintenance can put a strain on it, which means it will drain faster through even everyday use. Follow your manufacturer's recommendations for battery maintenance.

Reason #4: Your Charging System Isn't Working

A car battery helps to start the car and run systems, but the alternator is also there to assist when the vehicle is running. Electrical systems like the radio and lights work because of the alternator as you drive, with the battery covering the times the car isn't on. But the alternator doesn't just help the electrical components but also works to charge the battery.

However, if the charging system isn't working, then your battery isn't receiving an extra boost of charge when you drive, which drains its resources faster. Even if you swap out the battery or you perform jumpstarts, you'll end up with an empty cell in the end. In this case, you'll need to have a mechanic look into the issue and make the appropriate repairs.

Potential reasons can involve worn out tensioners or loose belts, among others.

Reason #5: Your Alternator Has a Defective Diode

Similar to charging system issues, you can have battery problems if your alternator has a defective diode. When this happens, the other active diode generally serves to take on most of the strain, which will drain extra power of your battery in the process.

Thankfully, to fix this issue, you don't need to replace the entire alternator. It's possible to replace the defective diode with a new one, which is more cost-effective and reasonable to do as a DIY project if you feel comfortable handling tinkering with your vehicle's parts on your own.

Performing regular maintenance to keep your alternator working will help prevent this issue from impacting your battery.

Reason #6: Extreme Temperatures

Batteries don't handle very cold (under ten degrees Fahrenheit) or very hot (over one-hundred degrees Fahrenheit) temperatures well. Whenever the weather gets into these areas, they can make sulfate build up in the battery, causing damage that could make your battery last much less long than it should. Extreme temperatures can also make the battery charge slower, lowering the energy stores.

Manufacturers make some specialized batteries meant to handle extreme heat or coldness better. If you live in an area where these temperatures are typical, you may want to invest in a battery better equipped for the situation.

Reason #7: Loose or Corroded Battery Connections

Car batteries rely on the cable connections to both give energy to the car and receive power from charging. However, without regular maintenance, a link can come loose, or the metal components could potentially corrode, weakening the ability to transfer energy in and out of the battery.

It's essential to regularly take care of your battery, even if it's to check that it hasn't become dirty or disconnected in a way that will prevent it from charging while your car is in use and leaving it low on energy reserves. As a bonus, keeping your battery (and other components) in good shape can help your car value if you choose to sell.

If you do find corrosion, you will need to clean it off thoroughly before you can expect it to work correctly.

Reason #8: You Take an Excessive Amount of Short Drives

The most significant use of car battery energy is when you start up the car, essentially giving the engine a jolt to set it into motion. It's when you start to drive that the alternator begins to provide recharge. However, if you regularly take short drives that don't have enough time to replace the energy used to start the vehicle, then you'll likely begin to see issues with battery drainage.

This potential reason for battery drain is one of the harder ones to identify solidly, but if nothing else on this list seems to stick, this may be the issue. While you don't have to go overboard with changing up your driving habits, it will help your battery more if you aren't always taking very short drives.

How to Handle Rapid Draining Batteries

For the possible reasons why a battery may drain, human error issues are quick to fix. You need to know what you may be leaving on and make a conscious effort not to give your battery more work once you shut it off.

Many of the other problems on this list stem from mechanical issues that, unless you have extensive car knowledge, you likely won't be able to identify on your own. When having regular battery problems, it's best to have a mechanic look things over to confirm what you think the issue may be, and then assist you with correct repair options.

Aside from that, regular maintenance on your battery and vehicle is critical for keeping everything in working order and preventing issues before they can start to be a problem that requires paying for repairs.

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