Causes of Battery failure

This is why yoru car battery fails

Recently, a member of my team, Tumi, suffered the inconvenience of having a flat car battery.  She had parked her vehicle at the office for about a week whilst using a test car. The thought that her car would need to be started, to keep the battery working, didn’t cross our minds.  When the time came for Tumi to jump back into her own vehicle and head to a series of meetings, she was greeted by the resounding sound of silence when she turned the key.  Yep, the car battery for her 4×4 was as dead as my ancestors.

Vuyi Mpofu

This is something that can happen to anyone at any time, and because your car battery is the heart of its engine, when it stops working, well, so do you! Truth is we don’t give much thought to our car battery yet it is responsible for a myriad of elements within the car and getting it started is just one of its many uses.


Here are just a few tips to help you identify problems with your car’s battery before it flat-lines:

  1. Sluggish Engine Start: When you turn the ignition, the engine cranks slowly and lazily as if you’re trying to wake a bear from hibernation.
  2. Check Engine and Other Dashboard Lights flicker or light up dimly when your battery is weak
  3. Old Age: typically, your car’s battery should see you through three years (two years for cars with the stop/start mechanism)
  4. Visibly Dim Headlights
  5. What’s that smell? You may notice a rotten eggy smell coming through from the engine which is in fact sulfur odor. This is caused by a battery leak which is responsible for the corrosion around the posts (where the + and – cable connections are)

The good news is that with modern advancements in car technology, car batteries offer a much better cold start performance and a longer service life than in years gone by.  Many battery outlets offer a free battery testing service and in order to avoid having to re-arrange your day to accommodate a dead car battery here are a few things to do:

  1. Have your car battery tested if you’ve had it longer than 3 years or if you can’t remember when last you had it tested / replaced.
  2. Ensure that your headlights are turned off before you leave the vehicle.
  3. Have your care serviced regularly so as to avoid overworking the battery due to poor engine functionality
  4. Check that your battery posts are clean and clear of the gunk that accumulates at the terminals
  5. Regularly drive the car so that the battery generates power

Whilst car batteries are not a sexy topic we cannot dispute that their purpose is vital to our daily commute. And in the unfortunate instance that you do find yourself stranded make sure you have the contact details to your road-side service somewhere in the car and not just in your purse.