Q&A’s About Car Batteries

The battery in your car serves an important role by sending a bolt of energy to the starter motor when you crank the engine, and it helps to provide power to other electrical features in your car such as the radio and lights. While battery technology has come a long way over the years, you should still know how they work and what to do to maintain the one in your car. As you read through this list of FAQs, remember that your regular oil change and tune up is a great time to request a car battery checkup.

How Long Does the Average Car Battery Last?

Today’s car batteries average a lifespan of about three to five years. However, there are multiple factors that go into how long a car battery can actually last. For example, extreme hot or cold temperatures alter the balance in the battery, and leaving a car sitting for long periods of time can also shorten the lifespan.

Will My Car’s Engine Die While I’m Driving If the Battery Stops Working?

In most cases, you will notice a battery problem during the initial start up of your vehicle. Once your vehicle is running, a failing battery should not cause the engine to die. However, a bad battery is often a symptom of a problem with the alternator or another component on your vehicle, and these types of issues could cause your engine to die.

How Do I Preserve the Battery When My Car Is In Storage?

Batteries in cars that are stored for more than a few days can lose their charge. For this reason, battery care should be on your checklist of things to do to prep your car for storage. If you plan to leave the battery in the car, arrange to have someone start it up at least once every two weeks. Alternatively, you can use a trickle charger or disconnect the battery.

How Do I Choose the Right Battery?

There are many different types of batteries on the market, and every vehicle has a specific size and type that is designed to fit the engine. While you can check your vehicle’s owner’s manual, its best to ask one of our certified auto repair technicians to help you find the right one to suit your car’s specifications.

What Are the Warning Signs of a Failing Battery?

Fortunately, bad batteries typically give some warning signs before they go completely out. You should be concerned anytime your car experiences a slow crank or fails to turn over since this could mean that the battery is weak. A bad battery could also trigger a warning light on your dash, but this could simply be a generic light telling you to check your engine. If you look under the hood, you may also see a bloated battery case or corrosion on the terminals. Finally, a need to jumpstart your car is a definite sign that the battery needs to be checked.

Proper battery care and maintenance gives you the reassurance that comes with knowing that your car will reliably start up every time you turn the key. If you car’s battery is nearing the end of its lifespan or is displaying warning signs, bring it in to see if a replacement is necessary.

What Should You Do When Your Car Overheats?

Keeping up with your car’s routine maintenance goes a long way toward preventing this type of roadside emergency since a lack of coolant is one of the most common reasons for an engine to overheat. However, your car could also overheat due to unforeseen circumstances such as a broken hose. When you see the temperature gauge start to climb, be sure to take these steps to preserve your car and stay safe.

Pull Over Immediately

You should never drive an overheating car since the high temperatures or a lack of fluids could cause serious damage such as a cracked engine block. If you must drive a short distance to find a safe place to park, then turn off the air conditioner in your car to reduce the strain on the engine. You can then turn on the heater to help transfer heat away from the engine. Once you get to a safe parking spot, turn the engine off and make sure that you are visible to other vehicles.

Wait to Open Up the Hood

If your car’s hood has a feature that allows you to open the hood from the inside, then go ahead and pop it to help vent out the heat. If not, then you may need to wait for the engine to cool down before you can safely open up the hood. As you open the hood, watch out for steam or a blast of hot air that could cause a burn. You will also want to use caution when opening the radiator cap. If it feels hot to the touch, then it’s too soon to open it up.

Assess the Situation

Although a car repair company is the best place to get an accurate diagnosis of why your car overheated, you may be able to get a few clues as to what went wrong. Check under the car for leaks, which could indicate a ruptured hose or cracked reservoir. Alternatively, you may notice that a hose is disconnected when you check under the hood. In some instances, such as for a small leak, you may be able to add coolant and drive if your service center is only a short distance away. However, it is usually best to err on the side of caution and call for a tow. This is the only way to be sure that you do not cause further damage to the car.

Repair the Issue

A car doesn’t overheat unless there is a reason. If you acted fast and shut off the engine in time, then you may be fortunate enough to only have to arrange for minor repairs on your vehicle. Keep in mind that even older cars should not overheat if they are in proper condition. Always arrange for your car to be inspected at the auto service center after an overheating incident to make sure that the underlying cause is repaired.

An overheating engine can be a frightening thing to experience as you are driving down the road. Not only will the temperature gauge start to climb, but you may also see smoke or steam emanating from under the hood. By keeping a cool head and getting to a safe place where you can turn off the engine, you can manage the situation in a way that helps preserve your car from further damage.

What A Smoking Engine Means

One of the most dreaded car problems is the discovery that smoke is coming from the engine. While seeing smoke is never a good sign, the issues that cause it can range from something as simple as a mild oil leak, to serious fuel combustion problems. If you have a smoking engine on your hands, then use this guide to determine the source of the problem and get it back to running properly again.

Consider the Location

The smoke from an engine may begin to come from under the hood, or you may see it flowing out of the tailpipe. In most cases, smoke coming from under the hood indicates a leak. For instance, oil or power steering fluid leaking onto the hot engine will cause it to smoke. Often, this will also create a noticeable burning odor that you may smell in the car’s cabin or when you stand outside of the vehicle. Smoke that comes from under the hood can also indicate that the engine is overheating, which is considered an automobile emergency.

Note the Color of the Smoke

When smoke flows out of the tailpipe, the color gives valuable clues as to what is causing the problem. For example, blue smoke is a sign that oil is mixing with fuel somewhere in the combustion chamber, which requires a trip to the service center for professional repair. While white smoke that goes away may just be condensation, you should be concerned if it lingers since this could mean that you have a blown head gasket or antifreeze leak in your car. Grey smoke could signal trouble with the transmission, and ignoring this could begin to affect your vehicle’s performance

Assess the Overall Functioning of the Vehicle

If you detect smoke coming from the engine, then you should also do a quick check of the general functioning of the vehicle. For example, oil leaks often start out slowly, and you may have already noticed oil spots on the ground where you park. Alternatively, your dashboard warning lights may indicate that fluids are low or that the temperature of the engine is beginning to ride. With transmission problems, you may find it hard to get your vehicle to change gears, or it may seem to lack power. Fuel mixture issues could cause problems at start up, or the engine may die when the car is idling. Take note of any other issues that you have noticed with your vehicle and mention them to the mechanic when you bring your car in for services.

Avoid Causing More Damage

Large amounts of smoke combined with other signs of a problem such as a rising temperature indicate that your car is at serious risk of catastrophic engine failure. Unfortunately, continuing to drive your vehicle when it is overheating could lead to a cracked engine head that requires a full replacement. Learn what to do when your car overheats or has another serious problem so that you can prevent more damage from occurring.

A smoking engine may cause you to fear that your vehicle is beyond repair, yet there are often many things that can be done to save your car if you address the issue early on. Always watch for signs that your car is struggling, and bring it in for an assessment as soon as you notice any type of smoke.