Understanding Your Car Battery: Problems You Should Know About

Despite even a long history of car ownership, many people find themselves unfamiliar with the operation of and warning signs from the battery of their vehicle. This often results in situations where a driver may be stranded and facing a dead or malfunctioning battery. The good news is that you can avoid this with a little bit of advanced understanding. Here's a look at some of the things that you should watch out for with your battery so that you can react quickly to reduce the risk of complete battery failure.

Leaks or Corrosion

When your battery leaks, the battery fluid can cause the battery terminal posts to corrode. The fluid and corrosion can lead to an odor of sulfur around the battery. If you open the hood and smell a hint of rotten egg odor or sulfur, that's a sign that your battery is leaking and corroding. You'll not only want to replace the leaky battery, but in the meantime, you should use a terminal post brush and clean the corrosion off the posts. This corrosion can interfere with the connection between the terminal and the terminal posts, which may actually keep your car from starting even if the battery is working fine.


Gassing is the term used to refer to hydrogen production inside the battery. It most commonly happens in overcharged batteries. The hydrogen gas will cause the battery to swell, and over time it could cause an explosion due to the gas accumulation. You can reduce the risk of this by ensuring that any battery you invest in has vents that will allow any gas accumulation to escape. This eases the pressure inside the battery case.

Insufficient Fluid

Car batteries contain an electrolyte solution inside the case. When the fluid level drops, it can interfere with the operation of the lead plates, which are what conduct the energy through the battery. Over time, this can cause the battery to fail. In many cases, this happens due to overcharging. You can monitor the fluid level inside your battery by watching the portion of the casing that has the translucent cover. That allows you to see the fluid inside. If it's getting down to the plates, it's time to get a new battery.

Electrolyte Seeping

If battery fluid seeps out of the case, it can cause corrosion and burns inside the engine compartment. You'll want to monitor it for signs of seeping, leaks or other damage. Just look at each of the seams and the terminals for any visible corrosion or discoloration. The weld points should all be secure. You can also minimize the chances of this by investing in vibration-resistant batteries or using a battery tray that dampens vibrations. Reducing vibration will help avoid cracks and leaks due to vibration shaking seams loose.

Bursted Case

The volatile battery contents can put any battery at risk of bursting or explosion. It's important that you keep open flames away from the battery and make sure that the wiring in the engine is in good condition. Otherwise, a short or spark in the wiring could cause the case to burst. You can minimize the risk of this type of hazard by investing in a spark-resistant case and cover to put over your battery. This can help to shield the battery from any errant sparks and may even help to keep cracks at bay.

The more that you can understand about your car battery and the risks that it faces, the safer your car will be. It's easy to dismiss it as unimportant because it isn't a moving part like the water pump or the starter, but it's equally important and at greater risk of malfunctions. With the information here and a reliable auto parts specialist, you can keep your battery in the best possible condition. If your battery does become incapacitated, a good option may be to look for used auto parts