If you didn’t leave your vehicle’s headlights on overnight, you may not know why your battery is dead in the morning. There are several reasons why your car battery may be draining when your vehicle isn’t in use. Let the Master Muffler team of Murray help you pinpoint the problem.

Why Won’t My Car Start?

It’s so frustrating to hop into the car, turn the key, and hear just a few clicks followed by the deafening sound of silence. Car batteries have the potential to last for a few years, but sometimes they give up on us. And, usually, it’s when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. If you want to know why your car won’t start, explore some of these care car problems that could be the culprit.

Lights Left On

Maybe you did remember to turn off your headlights, but what about interior lights? On newer vehicles, headlights automatically turn on and off so you don’t have to worry about them, but there’s nothing regulating your kids in the backseat! Often, a cabin light gets turned on and left on, forgotten about during daylight hours. If you don’t have energy-efficient LED interior lights, they can easily drain your battery overnight, leaving you with a dead car the next day.

Installing LED Interior Lights

At Master Muffler, we do aftermarket upgrades on different systems in vehicles. However, upgrading your dome light to LED is something you can do at home.

  • Refer to the owner’s manual for how to remove light covers
  • Unscrew existing bulbs
  • Install LED bulbs and check the polarity (+ and -)
  • Replace light covers

Electric Draws

Have you ever heard of a parasitic draw? In your vehicle, it means that there’s an electrical system that is sucking energy from your battery when it’s not driving. When you’re car is on, the alternator can keep the battery charged, so you don’t have to worry about using electricity to power the wipers, radio, or air conditioning. When your car is off, however, there’s a finite amount of power in the battery that isn’t replenished.

Loose Connections

If you have corroded or loose connections at your battery terminals, it could be the reason it’s dying. A common car repair we see is simply cleaning terminals and securing the connections so the vehicle can draw power from the battery. 

How to Clean Car Battery Terminals

This is a fairly easy task you can do yourself, using an old toothbrush, water, and baking soda.

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of water
  • Remove cables from battery terminals
  • While wearing gloves, apply baking soda mixture to terminals with a toothbrush
  • Scrub terminals with a toothbrush
  • Rinse baking soda residue from terminals
  • Dry terminals
  • Apply petroleum jelly to the terminals before reattaching cables 

Weather Fluctuations

Unfortunately, extreme weather fluctuations can negatively affect your car battery, especially if it’s a few years old. While newer batteries are designed to withstand changes in temperature, older batteries take a hit and lose power. 

Faulty Alternator

Sometimes, the problem with your battery is actually not the battery itself. We mentioned that the alternator keeps your battery charged when your vehicle is running. So, if the alternator isn’t doing its job properly, you’re using up battery power every time your drive, without replenishing it. As a result, you can drive your car fine but you’re faced with a dead battery the next time you try to turn it on. If you have to jumpstart your car every time you want to drive it, you should have your alternator checked.

Shelf Life

The average lifespan of a car battery is three to four years, whether you drive a gasoline- or diesel-fueled vehicle. If you’re starting to have regular trouble with powering your car, it could be time to replace your battery. If you drive a diesel, there are actually two batteries, and they should both be changed out for new ones at the same time (even if one is still in good condition). If only one battery in your diesel has been failing, chances are it has put extra strain on the remaining battery and it should be replaced. 

If you ever find yourself with a dead battery, Road Show by CNET recommends having a car battery charger in your vehicle so you can jump your battery without the aid of another vehicle. You should also have jumper cables with you at all times, and know how to properly connect them for a jump.

Signs a Battery’s Time is Up

If you notice any systems operating at a slower speed, such as the windshield wipers, it could be a sign your battery is dying. Also, check for how bright interior lights and headlights are; if they’re dimming, your battery might be running out of juice. 

A dying battery might also emit a strange odor, like rotten eggs or sulfur. If you take a look under the hood and spot corrosion on your battery terminals after you’ve recently cleaned them, your battery could be failing. While you’re under there, take stock of the battery’s shape; if it’s misformed in any way, it’s time to replace it.

Thankfully, it’s doesn’t cost too much to purchase a new battery, and it’s a pretty straightforward install you could tackle yourself. However, if you don’t want to do your own car repairs, get in touch with the team at Master Muffler Murray.