Have you experienced the battery light of your car turning on? What does it mean? In this post, I’ll share with you the reasons why this happens and what you can do about a battery light on in a car. Let’s start by gaining some basic understanding of car batteries and how they work.
Why Is The Battery Important For Cars?
All vehicles today contain a 12-volt rechargeable battery. Everything electrical is powered by this battery including the control computer of the engine, the radio, ignition system, and others. This implies that the battery is vital for the car to function.
Like every battery, the 12-volt battery of a vehicle will sooner or later be dead if not recharged. A vehicle has a recharging system that is already built-in. Many cars contain an alternator with a voltage regulator that maintains the battery’s charge and provides energy for the car when the engine is at work. The usual alternator can emit five hundred to one thousand watts when needed.
Why Car Battery Light Keeps Showing Up?
Since your vehicle relies heavily on battery, every vehicle has a battery light placed on the dashboard. It is made for the purpose of warning you if the recharging system is failing. A basic circuit monitors the voltage that the alternator is emitting. It then switches the battery light on if it is emitting little.
When the light came on while driving, it is a signal that there is a problem with battery charging. If the battery light appears and stays even during the drive, or if the battery light goes on and off while driving, it implies that a damaged alternator belt is the cause of the problem. Another probable cause is total damage in the alternator.
The reason as to why the vehicle is still operating normally despite having a battery light is due to the stored energy in your car battery. Your car will operate normally up to the point when the car battery runs out.
When that happens, your vehicle won’t work. While your battery light is still on, you may park your car to a garage; there won’t be any damage. The primary goal is to drive the car to the garage until the battery fails and the vehicle dies.
If your battery light came on while driving, it may be caused by several things. The battery’s warning lights signal the bad condition of the battery; there are various reasons for the car battery light turned on when driving. The usual causes are:
1. Poor Battery State
The primary thing to check is whether there is something wrong with the battery. There may be dirty terminals or corrosion that hinders the battery from transmitting energy. In this case, the voltage will decrease resulting in a battery light located on the dashboard to come on.
2. Check The Alternator
If the battery turns out to be fine, you must check the alternator. This tool maintains the battery charged and generates power for the electrical parts when the engine is functioning.
Examine the device using a multimeter, and it must display a reading of 13.4 to 14.6 volts. Anything less than 12 volts will result in a battery light on the car. There may be two reasons for the damaged alternator:
3. A Defective Voltage Regulator
If the battery light on and off while driving, it could also mean a defective voltage regulator. When the alternator fails to supply power or is completely shut down, it is mostly due to this. You may not be able to replace this part due to the model.
The same symptom may also be an outcome of installing accessories with high wattage. For example, if the installed headlights are high in wattage, the alternator may not be able to handle such accessories with high wattage. The car battery will turn on if the vehicle’s electrical components are producing more amperage than the required level.
4. A Sliding Alternator Belt
Another part that interferes with the regulator is a sliding alternator belt or a nearly failed alternator. The belt may have been damaged, worn out, or loose. This may be due to the belt being poured with a slippery fluid like brake fluid, coolant or oil.
While the vehicle is in an idle state, accelerate it and if you hear a screeching noise, make sure that a sliding belt is the cause of the problem. The key is to tighten the belt or to buy a new one.
A broken alternator will not only result to battery light on but further interrupt the function of other essential parts. Instant action is required.
5. Poor Wiring
The wiring that goes out of the battery may be faulty or damaged. With this condition, the flow of electricity will be disrupted and cause a warning light. In order to make the light go off, you must charge the wires.
9 Steps To Follow To Deal With This Issue
It is vital to be knowledgeable when dealing with your car battery light problem. You must be in a calm state, observe your car’s gauges and decrease power until you find an auto mechanic who will check your car battery. No matter how severe or simple the damage is, it is still something that requires immediate action.
Step 1. Stay Calm
A battery light turning on sometimes only requires a very basic solution. Don’t panic and keep your cool. Follow the next steps that I will share with you.
Step 2. Observe Your Gauges
Look at the gauge that signals the car’s charging state called voltmeter. Sometimes, there is a battery icon placed on the gauge. If it is very high or low, this is a worrisome situation. The standard range of operation is 12 to 14 volts. If it doesn’t have any change and same as the usual, then probably there isn’t a big problem.
Step 3. Decrease The Energy You Are Utilizing By Shutting Down Electricity Consumers Not Needed
A few examples are fan blower, dome light, radio, and defroster. Avoid using power windows unless necessary.
Step 4. Maintain A Running Engine
If you shut the car off, you may fail to restart the engine. You will rely on the car’s battery if the alternator fails; usually, it lasts for half an hour. While the engine is running, the battery may charge continuously depending on the damage. Furthermore, starting your car is one of the greatest battery drainers. By not restarting the engine after shutting it down, you are saving the energy that is running low.
Step 5. Drive To A Mechanic Or Auto Shop
Ask the auto mechanic to check the alternator. If there is nothing wrong with the alternator, request them to take a look at the battery. The light may be an indicator of a damaged battery and sensor.
Step 6. Inspect The Cables Of The Battery
If they are in a loose or corroded state, these may be the problem. Using a wire brush, scrub the battery terminals and the cable. I can share with you in another post how to clean the battery terminals properly.
Step 7. Inspect The Alternator Belt
If the alternator belt is loose, purchase a new one or tighten it. If there is a crack, immediately buy a new one. Your car will fail to charge when there is a broken alternator belt.
Step 8. Revive The Car After Almost Five Minutes
On the latest models of cars, this will help the vehicle to revive the computer system. After being restored, the battery light may shut down. It must have been a temporary prompt or sensor. If the light returns, it is necessary to see a mechanic.
Step 9. Examine With A Vehicle Mechanic In Case Everything Else In These Steps I Mentioned Fail To Expose The True Problem
If the car’s system has a lot of sensors and warning signals, it may be a computer system issue. This is the last probable cause why there is a battery light comes on.
Is It Safe To Drive?
The engine will continuously run even when the car battery light is on since the battery still has some energy left in it. This implies that you still have ample time to drive for a repair shop or your garage. However, trying to drive a long distance will turn out to be suicidal since the battery will soon be failing and leave the car dead.
In reality, it is not safe to drive a car with a battery light comes up. The car will not run in a normal condition since it will continue to lose power due to a faulty battery, poor wiring, corrosive terminals, and damaged alternator.
The battery is one of the critical components for running the vehicle and other electrical equipment. Any issue must be taken into consideration and given the fastest treatment possible. Just remember that whenever you’re trapped in situations like this, stay calm.
The battery light on in a car issue is something that not all people understand. It may be difficult to understand unless otherwise, one has sufficient knowledge about how electrical components work. Therefore, taking the time to read about this will save you in case you ever encounter this problem on the road.
Hi, I am Mark Neal From San Francisco in the United States. I’m the founder of BATTERY MAN GUIDE since last December in 2017. My team from Philippines and i have been working very hard to write lot of articles about “product reviews” and “how to guide” on batteries we believe they will help for what you look for! You may sometimes find some incorrect grammars and less engagement dialogue but we will improve our contents continuously along the way. To be honest, we are still not well established battery website, but we are trying to become an authority in this industry in the future by providing valuable information for our readers. With that being said, thank you for visiting at BATTERY MAN GUIDE and we are looking forward to having a great relationship with you!