Starting & Charging
The battery starts your car, powers on-board computers and supplies emergency power needs. A weakened battery causes stress on alternators and starters, especially during extreme temperatures. Let Paul's Auto Repair get you and your car off to a great start by testing and inspecting your battery regularly. Mornings are tough enough.
Paul's Auto Repair can test your car battery, replace it if necessary, and provide you with the comfort that comes with knowing your car will start when you need it to. We offer car batteries from leading brands. So if you've got a car battery problem, we'll get you on your way in no time with high-quality car batteries guaranteed by the manufacturer
Starting & Charging
If your car won’t start, the car battery isn’t the only suspect. The starter, alternator, and spark plugs can also be trouble spots. The car battery provides the charge that starts the engine and powers accessories such as lights and wipers. The starter can fail due to electrical or mechanical problems, making your car difficult or impossible to start. If your alternator is not working properly, you may notice headlights or interior lights that dim and brighten on their own, or other odd electrical behavior in the car. If you need a jumpstart or be towed to us, call us today and we will arrange the transport for you.
How it Works
In addition to the car battery, there are two other major components to your vehicle's starting and charging system. And these two components must be in good working order for your vehicle to start and run properly.
Starter — when you turn the ignition key, you are actually turning on the starter, which then cranks the engine. When a starter isn't working correctly, the engine may start with great difficulty, or not at all. Starter problems may be due to electrical/mechanical failure or outright breakage.
Alternator — the alternator carries out two important tasks. It recharges your battery while the vehicle is running to keep it at peak starting power. The alternator also works with your battery as a team to operate electrical components, such as headlights, windshield wipers, and more. A malfunctioning alternator can cause electrical components to operate erratically, or even cause your engine to suddenly stop running.
If you experience battery trouble, there are a couple of things you may want to check before calling for service. Be sure the battery is properly secured. Vibration caused by an unsecured battery can affect battery life. The cables to the battery terminals must be clean and tightly connected. Buildup of corrosive elements on the terminals can seriously weaken starting power. Be sure the side terminals aren't over-tightened as well.
Unlike other components in your car or truck, the battery does not give warning signs when it is near failure. A battery aged three or more years is a good candidate for replacement.
Clean off the grease and dirt when you wash your car,
Park in an insulated garage during hot and cold seasons, and make sure the battery is always properly secured in place.
During every oil change, have your battery tested and make sure it’s putting out the power it needs to keep you on the road.
Knowledge is power when it comes to your car’s battery and electrical system. In fact, it’s your ride’s heart and soul. The last thing you want is to be left stranded with a dead battery.
On average, a battery will last 3 to 5 years, but driving habits and exposure to extreme elements can shorten the life of your car battery.
At Paul's Auto Repair we offer a free battery check-up with every visit to our store. This is a quick diagnostic check to estimate the temperature at which your battery may fail. It also gives you some idea how much battery life you have left. One little test tells you if your battery is good to go.
The car battery provides the jolt of electricity necessary to power all the electrical components in your vehicle.
A chemical reaction puts your car in action: Your battery converts chemical energy into the electrical energy necessary to power your car, delivering voltage to the starter.
Keep the electric current steady: Not only does your battery provide the energy required to start your car, it’s also stabilizing the voltage (that’s the term for the energy supply) in order to keep your engine running.
Symptoms & Procedures
Are there any warning signs that may indicate my battery is on the fritz?
“If I only knew sooner.” We’ve all been there before. Fortunately, there are various indications and symptoms that your battery may need replacement:
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. Strange system indicator lights–such as check engine and low coolant lights–could mean there’s a problem with your battery.
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. You can also inspect it by removing the red and black caps if they are not sealed (most modern car batteries now permanently seal these parts).
The swelling, bloating battery case: If your battery casing looks like it ate a very large meal, this could indicate a battery gone bad. You can blame excessive heat for causing your battery case to swell, decreasing your battery life.
Stinky, rotten egg smell: You may notice a pungent, rotten egg smell (sulfur odor) around the battery. The cause: Battery leaks. Leaking also causes the corrosion around the posts (where the + and – cable connections are located.) The gunk may need to be removed or your car may not start.
Three years + battery age is considered an old timer: 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. Battery life cycles range from three-to-five years depending on the battery. However, driving habits, weather and frequent short trips (under 20 minutes) can drastically shorten the actual life of your car battery.
A BAD BATTERY CAN HARM THE CHARGING SYSTEM OR STARTER
When you have a weak battery, your car ends up putting additional stress on healthy parts. The charging system, starter motor or starter solenoid can be affected. These parts can malfunction because they’re drawing excessive voltage to compensate for the lack of battery power. Leave this problem unresolved, and you could wind up replacing expensive electrical parts–typically without warning.
Quick Tip: Our Electrical System Check makes sure all the necessary parts are drawing the correct voltage. We’ll know right away if there’s any weak parts that may need immediate replacement. Don’t leave your car’s power to chance, you may end up paying for it later.
How do you know if your alternator isn’t giving your battery enough electricity?
Let’s just say we’re clairvoyant.
All joking aside, let’s start with the obvious symptoms:
The electrical system is possessed. Strange flickering lights or warning lights such as ’Check Engine’ flicker, disappear, and then reappear again. All these malfunctions usually start occurring when the car battery is nearly drained and struggling to provide power. If the alternator is faulty, your battery will no longer receive a charge and is moments away from being totally kaput.
The Slow Crank. You’re starting your car, and it keeps turning and turning, eventually starting–or not. This could mean your alternator isn’t charging your battery properly. If you start experiencing the possessed electrical system as well, please stop in to the nearest service facility. Your car could be moments away from a dead battery and alternator.
Let’s review: All the above happens when the battery is not receiving a charge (due to a faulty alternator). Your battery will continue to drain. When it drains completely…well, we all know what happens next: curbed car. And neither you, nor us, want you to go through that.
Quick tip: The sooner we can inspect your vehicle, the less likely you’ll face every drivers’ biggest fear–a car that won’t start. Drive with peace of mind.
Powering your ride is a complex affair. You need a functioning battery to make it go. After all, without battery power, your car won’t start. Your car battery provides the zap of electricity needed to put electrical components to work. It also converts chemical energy into the electrical energy that powers your car and delivers voltage to its starter. And it stabilizes the voltage (a.k.a. energy supply) that keeps your engine running. Important, indeed.
All it takes is one light left on overnight or accessories plugged in while your car is off and guess what? Your battery is dead before you know it. If it’s too late, make sure you have jumper cables on hand, or better yet, a self-powering car battery jumper in your trunk.
Just say no to short trip after short trip. Your battery requires time to charge. If you take frequent short trips, this can result in inconstistent charge levels and/or a drained battery.
Failure is not an option. Always have a qualified professional inspecting your electrical systems. We offer a full electrical system check and have certified ASE technicians on staff.
Parking in cooler locations (covered garages) in hotter climates can help, but your best bet is to have your battery tested, at the very least, before summer. Prepare for the worst and you may just avoid it altogether. That’s a win-win situation there.
Make sure your vehicle’s battery terminals are kept clean and free of corrosion.
JUMP STARTING A BATTERY, JUMPING A BATTERY, HOW TO JUMP START A CAR WITH CABLES
You should always carry jumper cables in your car with you. You never know when you’re going to need them.
It’s no longer just a simple “connect this cable here and that one there” scenario. Every car is different and any vehicles have crucial steps that must be followed precisely so you can have a successful jump. Make sure you follow the instructions in your owner’s manual when jump starting your vehicle.
Never connect the black cable to the negative (–) terminal on your dead battery. This is very dangerous, as it could result in an explosion. Typically, when a person jump starts a car, sparks can occur. That’s why it is recommended that you connect the negative jumper cable to the vehicle body and not the negative post of the battery. This is so you can avoid sparks from occurring near the battery where flammable hydrogen gas may be present, resulting in a possible explosion.
Do not, under any circumstance, attempt to connect loose wires. Leave the dangerous stuff to us. If you mishandle the wiring, it’s very easy to short out expensive computer components and put yourself in harm’s way.
1. Make sure both cars are turned off.
2. Connect one end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the positive terminal on the stalled battery.
3. Then connect the other red (positive) cable clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery.
4. Connect one end of the black (negative) jumper cable to the negative terminal of the good battery.
5. Then connect the other black (negative) cable to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the disabled car’s hood. Somewhere on the engine block is a good place.
6. Start the car that’s doing the jumping, and allow it to run for about 2 to 3 minutes before starting the dead car.
7. Remove cables in reverse order.
8. Keep the jumped car running for at least 30 minutes to give the battery sufficient time to recharge itself.
And you’re done. Give yourself a pat on the back for a manly job well done.
Your car’s electrical system consists of the battery, starter and alternator. The battery provides juice to the starter. Then, the alternator gives that battery the energy it needs to power your car. If one of these parts is not working properly, your car won’t start or run correctly. Our expert technicians can perform an electrical system check to ensure everything is working properly. It pinpoints any problems that may occur with your electrical system. If our technicians find a problem, they’ll let you know what they can do to fix it. We can curb any problem before it starts, so you won’t be left stranded with a non-starting vehicle.
Until your vehicle starts, your battery is providing the car’s entire electrical current. This includes the current to the ignition and fuel systems, which are responsible for creating the combustion necessary for your engine to function.
While the battery supplies the power to start your vehicle, the starter is really what gets the engine going. The battery supplies a small amount of power to the starter motor. The starter then rotates the flywheel, which turns the crankshaft and begins the movement of the engine’s pistons. This intricate process is why it’s key to make sure the starter works.
It’s difficult to determine when a starter will fail exactly, but an electrical system check at Firestone Complete Auto Care can help recognize the warning signs. We check if the starter is drawing the proper amount of current. An excessive current draw will indicate a worn starter, while a low current draw points to corroded cables or connections. Not to worry! This is a problem our expert technicians can fix.
When your engine is running, the alternator keeps the battery charged and the electrical system going. Your car can start with a faulty alternator, but it won’t be able to run for an extended period of time. If the alternator requires replacement, your vehicle’s electrical system will perform erratically, its battery will discharge, and eventually your engine will lose power. A complete electrical system check from Firestone Complete Auto Care will tell you whether the alternator is generating the proper amount of current and voltage. That way, you have a heads up before your alternator fails.
See It in Action
So you turn the key and your vehicle’s electrical system goes into action. The battery provides juice to the starter, the starter turns and the alternator gives the battery the energy it needs to power your lights, defroster, wipers and accessories. See how it works:
Electrical System Illustration
A healthy electrical system. For a reliable ride.
Your car’s electrical system is important. Really important. So is staying informed about its ability to perform. Left unchecked, a weak or dead battery can wreak havoc on other electrical system parts, like alternators and starters. If your electrical system is showing signs of acting up (see symptoms here), don’t delay. Bring your car to your local Firestone Complete Auto Care so they can assess the situation, make sure voltage is correct and prevent further potential damage. You don’t want failure be an option, ever.
BATTERY PROBLEMS, WARNING SIGNS, TIME FOR A NEW BATTERY
Don’t let a dead car battery strand you on the side of the road. Fortunately, there are 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 inside, it’s time to have the battery and charging system tested. You can also inspect it by removing the red and black caps if they are not sealed. When fluid levels drop, it’s typically caused by overcharging.
The swelling, bloating battery case:
If your battery casing looks swollen this could indicate a battery gone bad. You can blame excessive heat for causing your battery case to swell, decreasing your battery life.
You may notice a stinky, rotten egg smell or sulfur odor around the battery. It is caused by battery leaks. 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. Our corrosion protection package, battery terminal cleaning service, and electrical system check can stop problems before they become huge problems.
Batteries can do a lot of things while we’re not looking. The most common way a battery will drain overnight is by leaving a light on or a power adapter plugged in, zapping all your battery power while you’re fast asleep. Your battery can also drain overnight if there are faulty electrical components or wiring. If this might be the case, let us check it out so we can resolve the problem and get you rolling again.
BATTERY LIFE EXPECTANCY
Car batteries last, on average, three- to-five years depending on the battery make, your driving habits, plus the year-round climate in your area. This makes it more difficult to determine how long a battery will last, and all factors must be considered. 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.
If you take many short trips (less than 20 minutes), your battery won’t have enough time to fully recharge, drastically shortening its overall life expectancy. Starting the car takes a huge jolt of electricity, so the charging system has to step in to replenish the battery. If you have a short commute or take lots of brief trips, the battery never gets fully charged. This constant state of undercharge results in acid stratification. Inside the battery, the electrolytic solution goes from homogenous -- or the same all the way through -- to a rough vertical split. The upper half of the solution is a light acid, while the bottom is a heavy acid. The light acid layer will begin to corrode the plates, and the heavy acid solution will start to compensate for the car's electrical needs by working harder than it's designed to work. The result is a shorter battery life, even though the battery shows up as working on routine tests.
Extreme temperatures kill batteries. The dog days of summer take the biggest toll on your battery. Scorching temperatures — and even freezing temperatures — can shorten battery life. A lot of times, waiting until the deep freeze of winter to replace your battery is often too late. Use THIS MAP to determine how long a car battery should generally last in different climates.
Determine battery age. For one thing, you can check the four- or five-digit date code on the cover of your battery case. The first part of the code is key: look for the letter and digit. A letter is assigned to each month — you know, like A for January, B for February and so on. The number that follows nods to the year, as in 9 for 2009 and 1 for 2011. This code tells you when the battery was shipped from the factory to our local wholesale distributor. The additional digits tell where the battery was made.
When your engine is running, the alternator keeps the battery charged and the electrical system going. Your car can start with a faulty alternator, but it won’t be able to run for an extended period of time. If the alternator requires replacement, your vehicle’s electrical system will perform erratically, its battery will discharge, and eventually your engine will lose power. A complete electrical system check from Paul's Auto Repair will tell you whether the alternator is generating the proper amount of current and voltage, to let you know before your alternator fails.
HELP YOUR BATTERY LIVE LONGER
Imagine waking up to a dead car battery. It isn’t fun at all. But because batteries can do stuff when we’re not looking, we need to help them go the distance. There are ways to keep your battery running newer, longer:
- turning off all interior and exterior lights when exiting your ride, unplug power adapters too
- avoid leaving on lights and accessories when the engine is not running
- take fewer short trips to prevent inconsistent battery charge levels
- keep your battery terminals clean and free of corrosion
- always have a qualified professional maintain your electrical systems
- have quality replacement parts installed when existing electrical system parts fail
Your vehicle’s battery is considered the heart of its electrical system. Your battery converts chemical energy into electrical energy to make your car run. Not only does your battery provide energy to start your car, it also helps stabilize voltage to keep your engine running. When your battery is low on juice or its cables or terminals are loose, your car won’t start. Unfortunately, your vehicle doesn’t always give you warning signs that your battery is about to die.
The last thing you need is for your battery to unexpectedly fail. We’ll check it before that happens, so you don’t get stuck. Our techs can give your battery a free check-up the next time you bring your vehicle in for maintenance, tires or other repairs. This quick test lets you know if your battery is providing adequate power and at what temperature it could potentially fail.
We check your entire electrical system so we can fully diagnosis and fix any potential problems before they occur. Our electrical system check makes sure all the necessary parts are drawing the correct voltage. We’ll know right away if there are any weak parts that may need immediate replacement.
The battery services you need.
Stop in for a complete electrical check.
We carry 65, 75 or 85 month warranties on batteries. Each provides the same trusted starting capabilities, no matter the warranty. Interstate Batteries are the #1 automotive replacement batteries in America. Logically, they’re nationally recognized for high quality, value and commitment to keeping you cruising. And so are we.
Typically, car battery installations include the following:
1. Visually inspect condition of battery cables and the ends that hold them down, as well as the bolts and battery tray.
A bridging (power) device is used to ensure power to your vehicle’s memory is maintained during installation.
Remove and dispose old battery.
Open Circuit Voltage (OCV) check on your new battery:
If OCV is below 12.5 volts, we’ll charge the new battery before installation.
If OCV is 12.5 volts or higher, the new battery is ready for installation.
Install anti-corrosion pads on positive and negative battery cable ends.
Spray battery cable ends with anti-corrosion spray.
We make sure that all discarded automotive batteries are delivered back to its battery manufacturer for safe recycling. Automotive batteries contain sulfuric acid and lead, so it is very important to have them recycled properly. We’ll accept your discarded automotive battery at no charge while making sure it is handled and recycled safely. Automotive batteries have the highest recycling rate for any commodity that we are aware of.
Your car battery is one of the most important components for your vehicle to run. A car battery supplies large amounts of electrical current for the starter, engine and other electronic accessories in the vehicle. The auto battery also stores energy from the car's alternator. Get your car battery service done at Paul's Auto Repair, and we will make sure you have a healthy car battery.
If the engine is the heart of your vehicle, the car battery is its blood. And just like a heart can't pump without blood, an engine can't run without the juice that a car battery pumps into it. Together with the engine and the alternator, the car battery is one of the vital components of a car's health. Car battery check-ups are a must-do for your vehicle. The car's health depends on them, and at Paul's Auto Repair, our expert technicians are able to perform a thorough evaluation of an automotive battery and electrical system. Regular checkups for your car or truck will ensure it to be around for the long haul. A strong and healthy auto battery is what every car owner wants.
Ready For Winter?
Get a free seasonal inspection and know your risk for a dead car battery this winter.
We promise that the vehicle maintenance service we perform will be done right the first time.
one-stop resource for helpful information on automotive battery replacement, maintenance and repair.
You can expect your car battery to say strong for three to five years. Extreme weather and frequent short trips can adversely affect the life of a car battery. And when it's time for a new battery, trust us to properly replace and recycle your car battery.
Ask for a FREE, quick car battery check at Paul's Auto Repair today!
Car batteries are the strong, silent member of the automotive team. They do their job regardless of heat, cold weather and the drivers who demand so much of them. While a battery that allows a car start at the first turn of the key is a joyful thing, it doesn't last forever.
In fact, depending on where you live and how you drive, the condition of your charging system, and a number of other factors, a battery lasts about four years on average. And when it does give out, there's generally no sign of trouble -- your car just dies.
While the lead-acid car battery hasn't changed much in the last 100 years, it's still a difficult part of the car to check during routine maintenance. Simple battery testers can't, at this time, muddle through the chemical complexity of what goes on in a battery. Instead, they provide a sort of snapshot of the battery at the time it's being tested -- without the context of the battery's chemical composition before or after the test.
So the rule of thumb is simple for battery replacement: You have approximately four years before the battery will theoretically begin its slide from chemical powerhouse to chemical paperweight. At the four year mark, start watching, and hope your mechanic will detect a problem before it's too late.
But due to the nature of the chemical cocktail inside any battery, it may give out before the four year mark, or maybe it will last for several more years. So you have to ask yourself, "Do you feel lucky?"
When it comes to vehicle maintenance, "normal" is determined by a number of factors that exist in theory but rarely come to pass. For instance, a battery has an average normal lifespan of four years under normal conditions. "Normal" in this case means the battery goes through full charge cycles, isn't subjected to extreme temperatures, is attached to a reliable and consistent charging system and isn't providing power for a ton of accessories. See, normal just isn't normal. In the real world, temperature extremes, vibration, short trips down the street and an ever-increasing array of MP3 players, GPS receivers and other devices take a toll on the battery.
If you look at a typical lead-acid maintenance-free car battery, it's easy to make sense of why these factors affect normal battery life. Inside the plastic box are plates of materials like lead and lead dioxide. The plates are suspended in a mix of water and sulfuric acid, which forms an electrolytic solution. This solution allows electrons to flow between the plates -- that flow of electrons is essentially electricity.
A host of factors can disturb this chemical reaction. Vibrations from rough travel or a poorly-secured battery can shake loose or damage the plates. Extreme heat speeds up the chemical reaction, shortening battery life, while extreme cold can sometimes prolong battery life by slowing down the reaction. This is why some batteries are covered by an insulating sleeve to keep extreme temperatures in check.
Driving style can affect the reaction, too. Starting the car takes a huge jolt of electricity, so the charging system has to step in to replenish the battery. If you have a short commute or take lots of brief trips, the battery never gets fully charged. This constant state of undercharge results in acid stratification. Inside the battery, the electrolytic solution goes from homogenous -- or the same all the way through -- to a rough vertical split. The upper half of the solution is a light acid, while the bottom is a heavy acid. The light acid layer will begin to corrode the plates, and the heavy acid solution will start to compensate for the car's electrical needs by working harder than it's designed to work. The result is a shorter battery life, even though the battery shows up as working on routine tests.
The most obvious sign of a battery problem is a dead battery. However, because the battery is part of a larger system connected to other parts of the car, a dead battery may indicate a deeper problem than simply no juice. If something else is going wrong in the electrical system -- say, a weak alternator -- a working battery may be providing less electricity than it should.
The best way to test a battery is with the electronic testers available at most automotive shops and even a few auto parts stores. A tech will hook the tester to the battery in the car, and it will take a snapshot of your battery's condition and indicate whether it needs to be replaced. This check should be a part of routine vehicle maintenance and done every time you have an oil change.
The battery itself provides other clues to whether it's on its way out. The first is age. If the battery is older than three or four years, start expecting problems. Second, take a look at your driving habits. Remember, short trips and long periods of inactivity will sap a battery's life. Third, take a look at the battery itself. Corrosion or stains mean you have a leak. If your battery is covered in a case or insulating sleeve, remove it every once in a while to see what's going on underneath. Look for buildup around the terminals as well. You can clean the buildup off with baking soda and water -- just remember to use gloves and safety glasses while working. The electrolytic solution is partially sulfuric acid, which is not gentle on the skin. Finally, smell the battery, paying attention to rotten egg odors (sulfur) or the smell of the battery overheating.
Batteries are so reliable and so simple that drivers have a tendency to forget they're even there until it's too late. If you pay attention to your car's battery and conduct a few tests and observations along the way, you'll reduce your risk of being stranded on the road. All things considered, batteries are relatively inexpensive, considering the amount of work they perform on a regular basis.
Replacing a car battery is relatively easy and can be part of a regular auto maintenance schedule. While there seems to be a dizzying array of batteries on the market, only three companies produce most of the maintenance-free batteries used in the United States today -- Delphi, Exide and Johnson Controls Industries. Each company manufactures batteries that are marketed by different companies under different names. The name brand on the battery doesn't ultimately matter. What does matter is age, cold cranking amps, reserve capacity and group size.
Age: Batteries usually come with a manufacture date on them, and they should be sold within six months of that date. Check the date carefully before you buy. The date is often coded. Most codes start with the letter indicating the month -- A for January, B for February and so on. The number indicates the year, as in 0 for 2000 or 1 for 2001.
Group size: This measure determines the outside dimensions and where the battery terminals are. Make sure the group size of the battery you're buying matches that of the one you're replacing -- otherwise you could wind up with a battery that has a different size and configuration than your car can use. Fortunately, most battery sellers group them by the car make, model and year they can be used for.
Cold cranking amps: This is a measure of a battery's capacity to start a car at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17 degrees Celsius), when the engine oil is thick and the battery's chemical potential is low. The higher the CCA, the better it will start in the cold. Most batteries list this on the battery sticker, though some only list CA, or cranking amps. CA is measured at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) and is usually a higher number. However, it gives a less accurate assessment of how well the car will start in the cold.
Reserve capacity: This is the toughest number to find but one of the most useful. It indicates how long your car can run off battery power alone if the alternator suddenly dies. It can usually be found in the battery literature at the store or online, or occasionally on the battery itself.
Follow these rules and you should be able to weather the worst a bad battery can throw at you, and find a reliable new one when you need it.