Common Car Battery Problems

Despite being a critical part of your car, batteries can be troublesome. A flat or faulty battery is the most common cause of a breakdown, particularly in the winter, potentially leaving you late for work or stranded at the road side.

A car’s battery is a key component, powering the electrical systems and allowing the motor to turn over in order to start the engine. So, it’s surprising that so many people forget about their battery health.

Some regular maintenance and TLC can help to prolong the life of your car battery and keep it in good health for longer, meaning you won’t have to repair or replace it as often. Here is our list of the most common causes of car battery problems, along with some tips on how to prevent them from happening:

Leaving your lights on

Many modern car headlights will switch off automatically when the engine stops, but this isn’t a universal feature. Leaving lights and other electricals switched on when your car isn’t running can cause your battery to drain to the point where the engine can’t turn over.

To avoid this, be sure check before you get out of the car that your headlights, indicators, hazards and internal lights are all switched off, as well as any additional electricals like the radio or a plug-in device. Your dashboard should show a warning light if any of your lights are left on, so have a look for any lit-up symbols before you get out.

Extreme weather

Temperatures that are either too high or too low can impact the health of your battery and may cause it to fall flat more frequently.

Hot weather can cause the liquid inside the battery to evaporate, which can result in the internal plates becoming damaged – these damaged cells then limit the battery’s ability to hold a charge. Low temperatures slow down the chemical reactions within a battery that generate power, meaning that recharging takes longer, and the battery won’t hold its charge.

To keep your battery healthy and functional in all weathers, a smart charger is a worthwhile investment. They’re designed to repair and protect your battery while it charges, using a multi-step system to stop any excess current from reaching your battery. This both prevents damage and improves the efficiency of charging. You can find out more about smart chargers here.

Check out our guide on how to charge a car battery for more help and advice.

Excessive loading

Constantly using your car’s 12V accessory outlet or regularly running appliances that draw a lot of power can put your car battery through excessive strain.

Investing in a more powerful battery, such as one from the Yuasa Silver range, means that you’ll have more capacity to charge other appliances and accessories without affecting the battery’s ability to power your car. Plus, you’ll have more power available for quick starts on cold mornings.

Loose or corroded battery terminals

If your car's battery isn't connected properly, either because the connection is loose or it’s been corroded, then you might struggle to start your car. Loose connections can limit your battery’s ability to transfer power, meaning your engine may not be able to turn over.

They can also put both the battery and the car itself at risk of damage: loose connectors can cause sparks, which can be particularly dangerous in engine bays. To keep everything working safely, make sure that your battery terminals are tight and secure.

Important safety note: Wait until your engine has cooled down and always wear gloves and safety goggles when touching anything in your car's engine bay. Remember to only touch the insulated parts of the connecting leads and avoid touching the other connecting lead or anything metal as you inspect.

Frequent short journeys and stop-start driving

Constantly turning off and then restarting your engine is an easy way to reduce its effectiveness over time. The strain of drawing up power to turn the engine over frequently within a short period of time can shorten your battery’s lifespan, so once your engine is on, try and leave it running if you’ll be driving again shortly.

In the same way, only going on short journeys can harm your battery’s health, worsening its ability to hold a charge. Longer journeys give the alternator chance to recharge the battery fully, so only going on short drives can deplete your battery quickly. Try and find time for some longer trips to recharge your battery and give it a manual recharge every so often too.

A worn alternator

The alternator is the component that charges your battery while the engine is running, by converting mechanical energy into electrical energy. A faulty alternator means that your battery won’t be able to recharge without manual charging, and it can make it difficult to start your car.

If you suspect that your alternator is the problem, head to your local Halfords garage and we'll be more than happy to take a look.

Car batteries at Halfords

To get to the bottom of any battery troubles, or for the peace of mind that everything’s working as it should, why not head to your local Halfords garage for a Free Battery Check? Our expert technicians will assess your battery’s key health indicators for free to make sure that it’s functioning properly.

If you do need a replacement, we stock a huge range of car batteries to fit most vehicles. To figure out which type you need, you can use our car battery look-up tool – just enter your registration and we’ll match your car to the right battery. You can then choose to have it fitted at your local store, garage, or by our mobile experts at your home or workplace.

It's also wise to keep a set of jump leads or a jump starter in the boot in case your battery needs a boost while you’re away from home - take a peek at our guide to jump starting for more help.

Shop Car Batteries

Halfords Motoring Club

Did you know that with the Halfords Motoring Club you can save money on the likes of batteries, wiper blades and bulbs? Join the Halfords Motoring Club today to access a range of amazing benefits and discounts that are designed to keep you moving, keep you safe and keep you saving.

It’s free to join and you’ll receive money off your MOT, a free car health check and a welcome voucher that can be spent on any Halfords product or service.

Or choose our Premium membership for a small monthly fee (or a one-off payment) to unlock exclusive member pricing on all motoring products and services online and across our stores, garages and Halfords Mobile Experts, as well as a variety of other benefits that will help you to keep moving for less.

With so much to enjoy, this is too good an opportunity to miss!

Join the Halfords Motoring Club today at