Ways to Troubleshoot Your Dead Battery

Updated on December 26, 2019
laurenfernandezrb profile image

Lauren Fernandez is the Content Marketing Strategist for Renegade Battery, a power sport batteries manufacturer based in Goodyear, Arizona.

Your vehicle may run on gas, but it won’t be able to go anywhere if the battery that enables it to start is dead. So if you turn the ignition and nothing happens, it’s very likely that your battery has given up the ghost.

However, before you declare your battery officially dead and replace it, you have to do a bit of troubleshooting first to be sure. After all, there are many other reasons why an engine won’t come to life. It may be a faulty starter that’s giving you trouble. A bad alternator could also be to blame. Always make it a point to troubleshoot car, motorcycle, or powersport batteries you suspect are dead, so you’ll know you won’t be wasting perfectly good ones when you finally get a replacement.

Here are some troubleshooting tips for your dead or dying battery.

Inspect All Connections

Your battery will surely not give your vehicle the spark it needs if its cables and connectors are loose. So check your battery and make sure that all connections are secure.

You also have to look for signs of corrosion on the battery terminals because corroded connections can cause starting issues and a bunch of other problems. If you see white, green, or blue blooms on the battery terminal, then make a baking soda and water solution and clean the battery posts with it using a wire brush. You can also opt for a battery terminal spray cleaner.

Once you’re done cleaning, use paper towels to dry off the battery. Get acid-neutralizing felt pads and apply them to the posts, then use anti-corrosive spray on each terminal to finish the job.

Check the Fluid Level

If you’re using a conventional unsealed lead acid battery, then it’s possible that its water level is low and is causing all your starting problems.

You’ll know that the fluid level of your battery is normal if it’s approximately a half inch above the tops of its plates. So if the plates are exposed to air, then the water level is low, and you may have to fill the battery with distilled water. Never use tap water because it contains minerals that may harm your battery.

Locate Parasitic Drain

One of the most common reasons car batteries die is parasitic drain, which typically happens when headlights, hood lights, trunk lights, or glove box lights remain on for an extended period—often without the vehicle owner noticing.

Although some parasitic drain is normal, like the ones caused by the round-the-clock operation of your clock, radio presets, and security alarm, the really problematic type can be caused by electrical problems like defective fuses, poor installation, and faulty wiring. When electrical issues cause something like this to happen overnight, your car battery will likely be depleted by morning.

Using a digital multimeter, you can perform a parasitic draw test that will help you locate which parts of your vehicle are causing the drain.

Test the Voltage

Testing the voltage using a multimeter will tell you whether your battery is sufficiently charged or not. Start by connecting the red multimeter lead to the positive battery cable, and the black multimeter lead to the negative battery cable, then set the tool for DC reading.

For a battery to be deemed as fully charged, the reading should be at 12.45 volts or higher. If the multimeter says the voltage is lower, then proceed to fully charge the battery and test it with professional test equipment. You can have your trusted mechanic or auto repair shop to perform a free load test, which can, among other things, determine if a battery can hold a charge. If the results of the load test reveal that your vehicle’s battery can no longer hold a charge, then you have a bad battery that may have to be replaced.

While you can go the DIY route when troubleshooting what you suspect to be a dead or dying battery, it would still be best if you can get a mechanic to take a much closer look and perform all the necessary tests not only on your battery, but also the systems of your vehicle. That way, you can be a hundred percent sure that it’s not a faulty alternator or starter that’s causing your starting issues, and that your vehicle’s battery is, indeed, well on its way to battery heaven. Then you can spend money on a new battery for your vehicle, knowing that it’s an absolutely necessary thing to do.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, axleaddict.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)