Addressing Auto Problems: Dealing with a Battery Light that Remains Lit

August 15, 2008

Your dashboard is filled with different auto lights, all of which have separate functions. These lights are excellent indicators when it comes to finding out what’s wrong with your vehicle. For example, we all know that when a tiny sign bearing open car doors turn on, it means that one of your auto doors is not locked or properly shut. When the gas pump warning light lights up, it means that you need to get to the nearest gas station to fill up your tank, and so on and so forth. But what does it mean when your battery light goes on and remains lit?

Before you start panicking, or rushing off to find your jumper cables, it’s important that you check your owner’s manual first to find out what it says about your auto’s battery light.

Keep in mind that oftentimes, the battery light does not just indicate problems with the actual battery itself. Sometimes this light can turn on just because the water levels in your battery are running low. Most of the time, your battery light won’t switch on just because your battery is low on power or is damaged. In most cases, this light turns on when your alternator is not doing its job properly.

The alternator is the part of your ride that charges and recharges your battery continuously throughout your travel. When your battery fails (especially if it’s brand new), chances are, you’ve got a problem with your alternator.

Now, what should you do when your battery lights engage while you’re driving? If your battery is not malfunctioning when the signal lights up, there’s usually no need for you to pull over immediately. If it remains lit, then try to find a safe place to park or try to get home as quickly as possible—there should be enough time for you to pull over safely before a dead battery stops you completely.

To prevent draining your battery completely as you drive, remember to:

1. Try not to make more demands on your auto battery. This means turning off all your unnecessary auto accessories like cabin lights, your radio and a/c system.

2. Unless you’re parked safely at home or in the emergency bay, try not to turn off your engine. Most of the time, the moment you turn off your engine it won’t start again. Avoid the risk of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere by trying to reach a safe and accessible area before parking your vehicle.

3. If you can, try to drive to a nearby garage or auto parts shop. If the auto problem you’re facing is serious, then chances are, you won’t be able to run tests on your alternator to determine if it truly is damaged.

4. If you’re able to reach the auto parts store or garage, leave the vehicle running when you call the available mechanic/s. Remember, a customer-oriented auto parts store and a garage can perform tests on your alternator to determine if you need to replace this vehicle part.

Aside from the alternator, other possible culprits behind the battery light that refuses to go out include: a loose alternator, a loose fan belt and low water levels inside your auto battery. Checking your battery’s water levels (and adding more if needed) is an important part of correct battery maintenance. Make sure you won’t neglect this simple procedure the next time you conduct maintenance checks on your vehicle.

If you’re unable to get to a service professional or garage in time (if it’s late at night or you find yourself stuck on the side of the road miles away from help), conduct the following steps if possible:

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