No matter which model car you own, it is guaranteed to have a 12-volt car battery inside of it. This car battery is recharged by the alternator each time you start your vehicle. The purpose of the car battery is to supply power to the starter motor, which then causes the engine to start. Once the engine starts, the alternator takes over and supplies power to all the electric components of the vehicle. These components include the interior lights, radio, headlights, engine control unit, ignition system, GPS, and whatever other electric components are in there.
Car batteries generally have a lifespan of about 3 to 5 years. When they start to wear down and die, there are noticeable signs that will present themselves. You may see your headlights flicker or the lights of your dashboard flicker. Previously, this was the only way you could tell if your car battery was going bad. Now, there are battery voltage testers and battery dashboard warning lights which can help let you know. Since most people don’t use battery voltage testers, then you’ll need to rely on the battery light of your dashboard to warn you when your battery is going bad.
5 Common Causes
The car battery light usually refers to the status of your car battery’s health. However, the car battery light may turn on for other reasons too. You need to understand the main possible causes of your car battery light turning on. That way, you don’t automatically assume it’s your battery and then go try to replace it for nothing.
Below are the top 5 causes of a car battery light on while driving.
1) Bad Battery – As previously indicated, an older battery that is 3 to 5 years old is likely going to fail at any time now. If you’re someone who drives every day or takes long trips quite often in your vehicle, then your battery may go bad a lot sooner than 3 years. People who live in hot climate locations, such as Florida, may notice their car batteries dying faster because of the heat. If any of these scenarios exist, then expect your car battery light to turn on.
2) Bad Alternator – Alternators may last 4 to 6 years if you’re lucky. Many people get confused when they see a car battery light turn on because they don’t often think of their alternator as being the possible reason for it. What happens with a bad alternator is that it’s unable to recharge the car battery. As a result, the bad alternator causes there to be a bad car battery. That is why the car battery light comes on.
3) Bad Ground Wire – The ground wire is what connects to your car battery’s negative terminal. An excessively worn out or damaged ground wire may compromise the flow of electricity to your vehicle’s other electrical components. Your engine control unit will detect this inconsistency in the electrical flow and then activate your car battery light in response.
4) Bad Alternator Belt – The alternator and crankshaft are connected by an alternator belt. Your alternator cannot function without an alternator belt in good condition. So, if the alternator belt were in bad condition, then it won’t be able to activate your alternator. And as you now know, a bad alternator can cause the car battery light to turn on.
5) Several Electronic Accessories – Cars used to be so simple in the old days. They may have had one radio and a cassette or CD player. Now they have DVD players, GPS systems, televisions, phone chargers, and the list goes on. All these components demand more electricity from your alternator and battery. As a result, these components will wear out sooner and cause the car battery light to turn on.