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Signs you need to replace your battery

Food service organizations, day care centers, schools and other groups that use vehicles in their daily operation carry a big responsibility: You must keep your vehicles working properly and protect the employees and volunteers who drive them. And part of that regular maintenance includes keeping a close eye on your vehicle’s battery.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), most car batteries last three to five years. If you live in an area that experiences overall warmer temperatures than others, you will probably need to change your vehicle battery more often than those who live in colder climates.

After your vehicle’s second year, you may want to bring it to a repair shop to have the technician test its energy capacity. But you may need to replace the battery between tests. The following are six signs you need a new vehicle battery:

  1. There is a warning light on your dashboard. Most vehicles have indicator lights on the dashboard that inform you when there is a problem or your car needs servicing. If the “Check Battery” light is illuminated, you should service your vehicle as soon as possible.
  2. Your engine cranks but won’t start. When your vehicle won’t start, a dead battery is one of the most common causes. However, you also may have problems with your engine ignition or fuel system, or your vehicle’s alternator may have failed. Don’t overlook the obvious—if you left the lights or accessories switched on in your vehicle, chances are your battery is dead.
  3. Your engine won’t crank at all, and the lights and accessories are off. This is probably a dead battery.
  4. Your engine starts, but it takes a while and sounds “off” when it’s running. This, too, is probably a sign of a dead battery—although a mechanic can test it to be sure.
  5. Your headlights are dark, dim or flickering. If you experience dim headlights at the same time as you notice one of the other signs in this list, it’s likely your battery is dead or dying.
  6. You notice signs of fluid leakage. Vehicle owners should periodically pop their vehicle’s hood to perform an inspection. If, during an inspection, you notice there is dried fluid on the battery or in the battery tray, there’s a good possibility there’s something wrong with the battery itself.

Find more great tips on our transportation safety resources page.