A car’s battery provides power for the vehicle during engine startup. To start an engine, its internal parts must be given an initial spin by the starter—a powerful motor—that draws power from the battery. If the battery fails to deliver the required power, the engine will not start. A workaround to provide the initial spin is to push the vehicle (for vehicles with manual transmission). To avoid the awkward moment of having to push-start your vehicle, the condition of the battery must be monitored, and if found to be defective, replaced as necessary.
Here are some indicators that your car’s battery needs replacement:
1. The battery is getting old. Batteries have limited shelf life. They are usually designed to last only up to 2-3 years. A battery that has gone beyond its warranty period may not hold enough charge to reliably start a car. The warranty period is usually indicated in the battery, as in the case of the stock battery of a 2017 EcoSport.
2. Errors are reported during engine startup. Errors may show up during engine startup if the battery can no longer supply the proper voltage to run the instruments. This usually happens when an old battery has been left to discharge for long periods, like parking the car overnight. Note that a battery discharges even when the car is not in use. In the case of an EcoSport, the error (ABS) Malfunction usually shows up when the battery voltage drops to a certain threshold, indicating the need for replacement.
3. Engine fails to start. The most definitive indicator of a battery that needs replacement is a failure during engine startup. This simply means that the battery can no longer hold enough charge to turn the starter and spin the engine. It may not be much of a problem for vehicles with manual transmission (MT) as one may resort to push-starting the vehicle, but for AT users, it is not an option. If the battery is relatively new (less than 2 years old) and a failure occurs, it may be caused by a discharged (drained) battery. A discharged battery may be recharged and replacement is not needed.
Have the battery checked each time you bring your car for servicing. As a general rule, replace your battery every 2 to 3 years.
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© Anthony Urbano (Manila, Philippines)