HOW YOUR CAR BATTERY WORKS
Your car battery may be small, but the power it provides is huge. When your battery is dead, your car is dead (until you replace the battery or give it a charge). You may know that your car battery provides the jolt of electricity required to power all of the car’s electrical components, but it actually does so much more! That little tiny box performs two essential functions:
- The battery gets your car going: The battery delivers voltage to the starter by converting chemical energy into electrical energy. This gives your car the power it needs to start.
- The battery keeps things going: The battery delivers just the right amount of energy to kick things off under the hood, but it also provides a steady stream of voltage (energy) to keep your engine running throughout your drive.
If you’re ready to dig a little deeper into how your car battery works and why it’s so awesome, read on. Your battery is closely tied to the car’s starting and charging systems. They all work in unison to convert chemical energy into mechanical energy, and then back again. How does it all tie together? Well, the starter uses mechanical energy to crank the engine. Once the engine is running, the whole system becomes somewhat cyclical. The engine’s rotation drives the alternator, forcing energy into the battery where it’s stored as chemical energy. This chemical energy is converted back into electrical energy to feed the starter and your car’s various accessories. The cycle continues as the engine’s mechanical energy drives the alternator and recharges the battery.
Warning signs that may indicate your battery is worn out
“If I only knew sooner.” Yep, we’ve all been there before. Fortunately, there are a few symptoms that may indicate your battery needs attention. Before it’s too late.
- Slow engine crank:
When you attempt to start the vehicle, the cranking of the engine is sluggish and takes longer than normal to start.
- Check engine light:
The check engine light sometimes appears when your battery power is weak.
- Low battery fluid level:
Car batteries typically have a part of the casing that’s translucent so you can always keep an eye on your battery’s fluid level. If the fluid level is below the lead plates : (energy conductor:) inside, it’s time to have the battery and charging system tested.
- The swelling, bloating battery case:
If your battery casing looks like this you can blame excessive heat for causing your battery case to swell, decreasing your battery life.
- Battery leak:
Leaking also causes the corrosion around the posts : (where the + and – cable connections are located.: ) The gunk may need to be removed; otherwise, your car may not start.
- Old age:
Your battery can last well beyond three years but, at the very least, have its current condition inspected on a yearly basis when it reaches the three year mark.
Having a dead car battery is always frustrating. Having a series of dead batteries, though, is a clear sign that there’s a deeper issue. Some possible reasons for dead car batteries include a faulty charging system (alternator) or extremes in hot and cold temperatures. Taking your car for frequent short drives can also cause the battery life to diminish considerably.
There are a number of things that can drain your vehicle battery life, even when the car is turned off. Some of the major ones to consider include bad charging, due to a faulty alternator; a defective alternator diode; or a battery that’s simply very old and no longer able to hold much of a charge. Any of these can cause the battery to die, even when you’re not running the vehicle.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you have a bad battery or a bad alternator. Certainly, if you have a series of failed batteries all in a row, that points to the alternator. Additionally, try jumping your car. If the battery dies while the car is still running, that means the alternator isn’t doing its job properly, and needs to be repaired or replaced.
While car batteries don’t recharge themselves, your car does have a part called the alternator, which exists to help your battery maintain its charge. If you have multiple battery failures, it could be that the real problem is with the alternator. Reach out to Meineke to schedule a service appointment and get your alternator diagnosed and repaired as it’s needed.
There are a number of clear indicators that your car battery is bad, or is about to go bad. These include an engine that cranks but doesn’t start; a car that won’t crank or start at all; or a car that starts fine one day but has trouble the next. Additionally, if you’ve had to jump your car a lot, or find that cold cranking is hard work, that points to a potential battery issue.
On average, a vehicle battery will last you anywhere from four to six years. There are several factors that can impact your battery’s lifespan, including the type of vehicle, the weather conditions, and your own driving habits. If your battery goes bad or starts giving you trouble, make an appointment with Meineke to have it replaced.
If your lights are turning on, then your car battery probably isn’t dead—but it may be on its way out. If those lights are dimmer than usual, that’s a telltale sign of pending battery failure. And of course, difficulty getting the vehicle to crank or to start points to a looming battery failure, regardless of whether or not the lights still come on.
If you turn on your engine and you hear a series of rapid clicks, that typically means that the battery is either dead or close to it. If you hear one loud click, that’s more likely the cause of a bad starter. In either case, it’s wise to make a service appointment with Meineke to have the problem diagnosed and corrected.
Enjoying a reputation for top-quality products, business innovations and consistently reliable service, Interstate Batteries is the No. 1 replacement brand battery in North America. Now over a billion dollar, privately-held corporation, our enterprise continues to thrive on our innovation as well as our good old-fashioned business principles.
Three entities make up our enterprise, with over 1,400 employees nationwide.
As Interstate Batteries faces the future, we’ll stay true to our founding principles and continue to uphold our reputation to our customers: #1 in Batteries.
The Early Years
In the spring of 1950, John Searcy began selling and delivering car batteries to wholesalers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area from the back of his red Studebaker pickup truck. After two years, Searcy founded his new company and named it Interstate Battery System. He based his business on high principles: offer the best-quality product, provide impeccable service and treat the customer with respect.
The Nationwide System
By the 80s, Interstate celebrated the milestone of having distributorships in every one of the 50 states and in Canada. Today you can even find our distributors in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Guam and Panama City!
A Household Name
Retiring in 1978, John Searcy left the company under the leadership of President and Chairman Norm Miller. In the coming years, Interstate would seek to become a household name through Interstate Batteries Great American Race, marketing opportunities, going “prime time” with national TV commercials and sponsoring champion fishermen Guido and Dion Hibdon. In 1990, Norm’s brother Tommy Miller became Interstate Batteries’ President and C.E.O., while Norm remained Chairman of the Board. The company’s presence took off in a new area—NASCAR, now America’s fastest-growing professional sport. Interstate became title sponsor of Coach Joe Gibbs’ new Winston Cup team in 1992 and steadily improved each year, winning the prestigious Winston Cup Championship in 2000