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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Car Maintenance 101: How to Keep Your Auto Battery in Tiptop Shape

August 2, 2008

Battery problems seem to be one of the most popular auto concerns for drivers around the world. While most of the tips listed below may be “common knowledge” for the great majority of drivers out there, it’s good to be reminded once in a while on what you can do to help keep your auto battery in great shape.

The older your auto, the more frequent you’ll have to replace your battery. While you can keep jump-starting a dead battery for some time, you’ll need to replace your old battery eventually. If it took your first auto battery two years before it finally became useless, your succeeding batteries would usually expire a little earlier compared to your first battery. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations on how often you need to replace your auto battery.

The best way to avoid having to jump-start your auto all the time or having to replace your battery frequently is by exercising proper auto battery maintenance. The following are some tips on how you can prolong your auto battery’s life.

Tip #1: If the main problem with your battery has to do with a faulty solenoid or alternator, then replace the busted auto part immediately. Sometimes the reason behind a malfunctioning battery isn’t damage on the battery itself. Since the alternator is responsible for re-charging and supporting your battery, a faulty alternator could cause your battery to break down frequently.

Tip #2: Before turning off your vehicle, make sure all your accessories are turned off as well. Leaving some of your auto accessories on, like your radio, windshield wipers or auto lights, can instantly drain your battery. Even something simple like a door left open can cause your auto cabin’s lights to switch on even if you’re already outside your vehicle. So avoid draining your battery by double-checking that all accessories are “off” before exiting your vehicle.

Tip #3: Follow the instructions and recommendations from the manufacturer regarding adding water to your battery. Some battery manufacturers recommend adding water directly on the cells. After replacing your auto battery, make sure you’ve browsed through (and thoroughly understood) the recommendations and instructions on how to add water to your auto battery.

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Addressing Auto Problems: How to Replace Your Auto Battery

July 26, 2008

In my previous posts on battery problems, I’ve discussed the many ways you can recharge your auto battery. But like all the rest of your vehicle components, your auto battery becomes prone to damages after long years of use. When you do decide to replace your auto battery, you’ll need to consider some things first.

Remember, different vehicle makes and models will require different batteries. Some of the basic variations you’ll find on the battery types available on the auto market include: their capacity to provide your various accessory items with power (accessory items like power windows, door locks, doors, different heating and cooling options, seat warmers and electronically adjusted seats), the amount of maintenance you’ll have to do to keep them working properly for a long time, and how they are mounted inside your vehicle.

To find out which battery types would work for your vehicle, don’t neglect to check your owner’s manual for its battery replacement recommendations. A reputable auto parts store or garage should also be able to give you a suitable replacement battery for your auto, even if you decide to go for another model than what’s listed in your owner’s manual.

Why You Shouldn’t Go for a Less or More Powerful Battery:

While it may seem tempting to either go for a more economical but less powerful battery, or to take a chance on a more powerful battery to liven up your ride, it’s best to stick with a replacement auto battery that has a similar capacity as your OE (original equipment) component.

If you go for a less powerful battery, then the power received by your auto will be considerably less than what it’s used to. Even if the underpowered battery provides sufficient power, its life span will be significantly shorter than your old battery’s.

While a more powerful battery on the other hand, will do little to improve your vehicle’s performance, not to mention how it’s probably a lot more expensive than the right replacement battery for you.

Steps on How to Install an Auto Battery:

Now that you have the right replacement battery for your vehicle, check out these easy steps on how you can install a new auto battery yourself.

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Top Ten Common Problems: Push Starting When You Have a Dead Battery

April 5, 2008

It’s a common sight to see people pushing a vehicle to get its dead battery started. Although it’s pretty common, it doesn’t mean it’s very safe or effective, for that matter. I suggest that you save push starting your vehicle as your last resort when it comes to starting your vehicle with a dead battery.

The previous posts on this blog will show you more effective and safer ways by which you can jump-start a problem battery. That being said, a few words of warning regarding this method:

Pushing a 2000-lb. vehicle is neither safe nor easy. As much as possible, try this method only when you’ve exhausted all your other options—including jump-starting your vehicle with a portable device or jump-starting it with jumper cables and another fully-functional vehicle present.

Remember that safety comes first. It’s a really mean feat to be able to push your vehicle by yourself, while controlling the clutch pedal and the accelerator. Make sure you have at least another adult pushing the car while you attempt to get the car moving.

If it’s absolutely necessary that you aid in pushing the car, make sure you can jump in the car soon enough to control it, otherwise you run the risk of losing complete control of the vehicle or worse, seriously injuring yourself in the process.

Try this method only if you have a manual transmission vehicle.

Lastly, the older your battery, the sooner your have to replace it. If your battery has a long history of jump-starting and push-starting, then it’s highly recommended that you replace your old battery immediately. Try to find great car parts, or if you’re driving a truck, truck accessories online for excellent bargains.

Now that you’ve been properly warned, we can discuss how push-starting a vehicle with a dead battery works. When you have a manual transmission vehicle, it’s possible that you can get the battery to turn over simply by rolling or pushing the vehicle forward. If you own a van or a large pickup, you will definitely need a group of adults to help you push your vehicle. Your job will be a lot easier if your vehicle happens to be positioned on a small incline.

Before you begin pushing, keep in mind that your safety and the safety of everyone involved comes before your vehicle’s welfare. Before you try anything, make sure that everyone understands how push starting works and takes extra precaution in making sure that their hands, feet or any body part is away from the wheels or any part of the vehicle that may cause harm to their well-being.

With that said, here are a set of simple instructions on how you can push start a car with a dead battery.

  1. Make sure that all the accessories in your car that requires the battery is turned off. This includes your car lights, the heater, air conditioner and the radio.
  2. Instead of starting the vehicle, simply turn the key in the ignition and make sure that it is at the “on” position.
  3. Push down on the clutch pedal, and shift into the first gear.
  4. Release the hand brake, but keep your foot on the brake pedal.
  5. Signal to the group behind you to start pushing, and then slowly lift your foot off of the brake pedal to get the vehicle moving.
  6. When the vehicle starts moving, slowly release the clutch pedal and step on the accelerator pedal.
  7. Try to start the vehicle.
  8. When the vehicle starts, let it run for about half an hour.

Remember that this is just a temporary solution to your battery problem. You’re going to have to replace your busted battery sooner or later—and trust me when I tell you that the sooner you do the better. If you’re worried about the expenses that come with battery replacement, I suggest you check out this website on discount auto parts.

Top Ten Common Problems: Jump-Starting Your Car Using a Lighter Connection

April 4, 2008

In relation to the previous post on jump-starting a dead battery, here’s another way you can revive a dead battery—using your vehicle’s lighter connection. A number of manufacturers for truck accessories and car parts are peddling small, battery-jumping units that are designed to be plugged directly into the lighter socket found near the dashboard.

So now, instead of needing to connect your jumper cables to the car’s battery, you just have to take one end of your lighter-connected cable and plug it into the lighter socket of another fully functional and running vehicle. The other end of the cable can now be plugged into the lighter socket of the car with the bad battery. Power is then transferred through the cables, allowing the vehicle with the dead battery to start.The following are simple instructions on how you can use this handy device.

  1. Take one color-coded end of your cable and plug into the running vehicle’s lighter socket. Make sure the running vehicle has a fully-charged battery.
  2. Now, take the remaining end and plug into the lighter socket of the vehicle with the bad battery.
  3. Let the second vehicle charge for about five to 10 minutes. Make sure the cable is secured in place.
  4. After charging the second vehicle, try to start the vehicle with the problem battery.

Prices for this type of jumper may vary depending on the maker and the device’s capacity. For great deals on high quality car and truck parts, check out this website on discount auto parts.

Top Ten Common Problems: Reviving a Dead Battery with an Electrical Jump-Start Device

April 3, 2008

Extreme cold, just like leaving your car lights on for several nights, can wreak havoc to your car’s battery. A dead car battery can be such a hassle, especially if your battery gives out in the middle of nowhere, long past midnight.

When faced with this situation, the common solution is to find another vehicle and to use ordinary jumper cables to jump-start your battery. However, great innovations in the world of automobiles have allowed for a handier solution—one that won’t require another vehicle’s live battery to jump-start your car.

There are great car parts and truck accessories manufacturers that offer durable and dependable jump-start devices designed to make jump starting your car’s battery a lot easier. Each jump-start device is smaller than a car battery making it a lot more convenient to have around—at least compared to another vehicle’s live battery. True, the unit may be a bit heavy, but all jump-start units come with handles making them a little easier to lug from your house to your garage and back again.

Aside from no longer needing another vehicle to jump-start your battery, most jump-start units come with built-in cables, so you won’t need to bring your jumper cables every time you go out. All you have to do is recharge this device to make sure it has enough power to jump-start a dead battery.

Charge this device by simply plugging it into a regular wall socket and letting it charge overnight. After charging the device, you can now use it to jump-start your battery.

Although the exact instructions may differ depending on the jump-start device’s brand, the following should cover the basic steps on how to recharge a car battery using this handy device:

  1. Bring the device close to the vehicle
  2. Take the built-in cables and attach them to the right battery posts
  3. Allow the unit to charge your battery for a minute or two (or the time indicated in the device’s manual)
  4. Start your car to see if it works

Portable jump-start units or devices are usually priced between $70 and $100. Click on the link for discount auto parts.