You are happily driving along when suddenly your car battery dies. How is this even possible? Doesn’t your battery continually charge when the engine is running?
It’s true, a car battery can die while you’re driving. So, what’s your best course of action? We’ll cover the reasons a battery can die, along with the steps you should take if it happens to you.
Car batteries can die while you’re driving. Thankfully, it’s not a common problem for drivers but it does happen.
Unfortunately, you may not get any warning signs until you’re driving. When you do, it’s usually your low battery indicator light flashing on the dashboard. When the light pops on, you want to start making your way towards a safe parking area.
There are a few reasons why a car battery dies while you’re on the road. Some causes are easy to spot without a mechanic’s help. For other causes, you may need to take your vehicle in for repairs.
The alternator recharges your battery when the car is running, but the component can fail. A bad alternator isn’t generating the electricity your engine needs to keep functioning. Without the steady supply of electricity, the engine shuts off, even if you have a new battery.
A common reason an alternator goes bad is from a broken drive belt. It’s pretty easy to spot when you open the hood, but you probably need a mechanic to replace the belt. Other causes are internal, and you need to take the vehicle into the shop.
Batteries older than three years are at an increased risk of dying as you’re driving. Even new car batteries can go bad after a few miles.
You usually get a few warning signs when your battery is going bad, but it can happen suddenly. It’s rare, but your battery can die without warning. Some signs to watch for include dimmer headlights. It can also take the vehicle longer to turn over.
The most common sign is your low battery indicator light. When the light flashes on, it’s time to check the condition of your battery.
Your car’s battery is connected to the motor with cables, and it’s not uncommon for them to become loose. Corrosion on the battery terminals, the post where the cables connect, can also cause the engine to die.
Cleaning the cable connectors and battery terminals may solve your problem with a dying car battery.
The ASD (automatic shutdown) relay sends electricity from the battery to the injectors and ignition coils. It’s what provides the spark that starts the engine.
A faulty ASD relay can prevent the engine from starting. It can also cause the battery to die while you’re driving.
Like any car component, your fuel pump can go bad and need replacing. A faulty fuel pump won’t deliver gas to the engine, preventing the vehicle from starting.
Fuel pumps can also go out when the car is running, causing it to come to a stop. When the battery stops working due to a faulty fuel pump, a common culprit is the gas in the vehicle’s tank. Using the wrong gas can cause the fuel pump to fail.
A MAP sensor is a small device that tracks the air to fuel ratio. When it goes out, your engine comes to a stop. Unfortunately, most vehicles do not have warning lights indicating the car has a bad MAP sensor. It’s something you often learn when you go to start the vehicle or when you’re driving.
Your car is running great but suddenly your battery dies, so what happens to your vehicle? When the battery stops working your engine will shut off, bringing the car to a rolling stop.
The battery and alternator need to work together to provide power for the engine. A faulty alternator won’t continually charge the battery, resulting in loss of power after a while. How long it takes the battery to fail depends on a few factors like its age and condition.
Once your battery is dead, restarting the car is usually impossible, but there are exceptions.
Sometimes, you can restart your vehicle after the battery dies. You may not have a faulty battery or alternator. Instead, it can be a minor problem you can fix without needing a tow.
Dirty battery terminals can block electricity flowing to and from the battery. Cleaning the terminals and removing the corrosion can fix your battery problem. Depending on how depleted the battery is, you may still need a jump to get the engine to fully turn over.
A dirty mass airflow sensor can also cause your vehicle to stop and restart. To diagnose the problem, try unplugging the sensor. If the car starts up without a problem, clean the sensor before replacing the battery.
If your battery died has died while you’re on the road, you know the answer to the question. A bad battery can cause your car to die while it’s moving.
The battery serves two purposes. It provides the power necessary for the vehicle to start. It also acts as a buffer when the electrical demands are higher than the alternator can provide. When you have a bad battery, the electric flow is interrupted, causing a loss in vehicle performance as it gradually comes to a stop.
There are a few things you want to do when your car battery dies on the road. Some help protect your engine, while others are for your safety.
When your check engine or battery light comes on, it’s time to start looking for a place to pull over. If you’re on the highway, you want to find an exit or a wide shoulder.
Turn your hazard lights on, even during the day. Some emergency roadside kits come with reflective orange triangles. Go ahead and step them up at the vehicle’s front and rear. It helps ensure other drivers see your disabled vehicle.
Turn the ignition off and set the parking brake. Let the engine sit for a few minutes to cool down. Release the parking brake and try restarting the vehicle. If your engine turns over, don’t think the issue is resolved. You still need to take the car to a repair shop.
Dirt and debris can cause your battery to die while driving. It can clog your airflow sensor causing the engine to shut off. Corrosion also builds on battery terminals, preventing a connection with the alternator.
Clean off any dirt and corrosion after the engine cools down. Try restarting the engine. If it catches, you can drive your car to the mechanic to ensure the problem is fixed.
If the battery died due to age or overuse, sometimes you can give it a jump start. Hopefully, you have a car battery charging kit in the trunk. If not, you need jumper cables and another vehicle with a working battery.
Connect the two vehicles’ batteries with the jumper cables. The car with the working battery needs to be running, while your ignition is in the on position. Give it a few minutes and try restarting the car. If it turns over, you can safely drive to an auto parts store.
If none of the above steps work, it’s time to call for a tow. Stay in or with your vehicle. You will have some paperwork to fill out.
Who you call when your car battery dies is your decision. AAA members can take advantage of free towing, along with battery charging and replacement. Some drivers are members of programs similar to AAA. You can also check with your car insurance provider. Some plans offer towing assistance. Your local towing company is another option.
Do you need a new battery? Here are some of our top brands we suggest you try out.
Diehard car batteries are virtually maintenance-free. You get reliable performance in any climate. The unique grid technology prevents corrosion that often leads to battery failure. The company has a long line of car batteries to fit any type of vehicle.
Easily recognizable by its red top, Optima car batteries give you plenty of starting power. The batteries work great in high-performance vehicles, delivering more power than standard models. With 15x the vibrational resistance, the battery won’t die due to shaking or bumps.
The AGM (absorbent glass mat) battery produces the power larger engines need to turn over. It works great in vehicles with high electrical demands due to the latest technology. DieHard’s grip technology extends the battery’s lifespan.
Flooded-style car batteries keep standard cars and trucks on the road. The Ultra Gold battery from Duracell comes with 700 cold-cranking amps to ensure reliable starting power.
The Duralast Platinum is an AGM battery. It has the power necessary to keep multiple electronic devices running without taking away from the engine. The battery has a leak-proof construction for safety and longevity.