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Can Car Battery Die While Driving

Last updated on January 24th, 2024

The ‘battery warning’ light indicates only when the car battery is flat, even if you’re driving. At this point, you’ll want to ask, “Can your car battery die while driving?”

It isn’t out of place for a vehicle’s battery to die while driving. If your car engine is still running and the battery blinks low, your electrical system has a problem.

Whatever the case may be, never ignore the battery indicator warning. To prevent your engine from stopping on the road, you can move your car away from the highway (road) to a safe location. 

There are many other causes of dead car batteries while driving. Read through to see the different warning signs and causes of a dead battery.

car battery die while driving

Why Would a Car Battery Die While Driving?

There are different potential causes that trigger car batteries to die while driving. Some of them include:

Bad Alternator

It is the car battery that provides the power that is required to start the engine that runs the electrical system of your car.

The car battery is powered by the alternator while driving. When the alternator can’t generate power, it affects the battery in two different ways. 

First, the battery will no longer be charged. Also, the car’s electrical system will rely on the battery.

A car’s electrical system will exhaust the battery’s available power if the alternator isn’t working properly.

Even though the engine may be running (slowly) while deriving its power from the vehicle’s electrical system, the battery will be dead after some minutes.

Battery Malfunction

When there’s a battery malfunction, a vehicle could die while driving. Notwithstanding whether the car alternator is functioning properly, the car battery won’t remain charged if its cell is damaged or there’s a wrong electrical connection. 

To prevent this problem, you could inspect your car battery periodically to see if there’s a warning.

Alternatively, involving an expert to check if there’s any fault in the electrical system of the car will be more appropriate.

Can the Battery of a Car Die Without Warning?

Take note that even when the car ignition is turned off, accessories slowly discharge the battery.

For example, the battery ensures the security system is active, and the clock ticks when the vehicle is not in use.

This doesn’t mean that the amount of power used up by these accessories could cause a car battery to die. 

However, if the battery is old or has a fault, it could die without showing a warning by stopping the functioning of those accessories.

Additionally, if the electrical system of your vehicle has a problem, the battery will continuously discharge, thereby causing the battery to shut off without any warning. 

Most importantly, if your car battery ever dies without warning, reach out to an expert to diagnose and fix the problem. 

signs of a bad car battery

Signs of a Bad Car Battery

There are numerous signs of a bad (dead) car battery, both obvious and less obvious. Some of the signs are:

Car not Starting

The car refusing to ignite is a clear sign that the battery is bad and needs a fix (or replacement, in severe cases)

Also, the ‘check engine’ warning indicator on the dashboard is an obvious sign of a bad battery.

Additionally, if after fixing the ignition issues, the problem persists, it will mean that the battery is discharging and needs a replacement.

Car Stalling

This issue is reflected when the engine keeps turning over more than 3 more times when starting or when the engine refuses to start in cold weather.

In this case, you’ll have to jump start your vehicle at least 3 times every week.

Dim Lights

When the interior or exterior lights don’t turn on or appear dim, it could be that the car battery is bad.

Radio Keeps Turning Off

A radio having poor signals or starting and stopping at intervals is a sign of a bad battery.

Other signs of a bad car battery are:

  • Broken or loose battery terminals 
  • Low levels of distilled water in older batteries
  • Battery dying within 10 minutes of turning off the car engine
car battery needs to be replaced

How do I Know When My Car Battery Needs to be Replaced?

You don’t have to wait until your battery runs out completely before replacing it. It’s best to know how to check whether the battery in your vehicle needs a replacement.

However, here are some ways to know when your car battery needs to be replaced:

Battery Age

Checking the age of your car battery will help you know its state of health. The life expectancy of most car batteries of 12-volts is between 3 to 5 years.

You can simply confirm your car battery’s age by checking for an engraved code or sticker on the body of the battery that contains the date the manufacturer shipped it.

The letter and number in the engraved code represent the month and year, respectively. For instance, the code ‘C22’ represents ‘March 2022’. If your car battery is older than 3 years, consider getting a replacement.

Battery Voltage Testing

Testing the voltage of your car battery is a necessity. You can go to a mechanic shop or your local auto dealer to do the testing.

Interestingly, there’s no service charge for battery testing. All it takes is a few minutes. You will need to replace your car battery if it has a low voltage.

Reasons Why Battery Will Die When the Engine is Off

Most times, a car battery dies when the engine is off. Other times, people notice dead car batteries when trying to start their car.

If the car engine has been turned off and the battery is low (or dead), there are different possible reasons. They include:

One of the cells of the car battery has a short circuit. In this case, a smart battery charger may be of good use.

But it’s not advisable since there’s a high probability for the battery to die again. The best thing to do is to recycle the old battery and get a new one.

Low battery voltage because some accessories or devices in the car were left on or used for a long time.

If this happens, it means that the battery has been discharged and must be reached. The best step to take is to jump-start the car with the help of the jump starter or jump-start cables and allow the alternator to power the battery for about an hour. 

Alternatively, you could remove the battery from the car and recharge it using a battery charger with high capacity, or charge it without disconnecting the battery from the car.

Note that not all batteries can be removed from the car.  Some car models don’t use the auxiliary car battery that holds the charge for the car’s electronics.

When the battery is removed in such car models, starting the car will be difficult. To be on the safe side, you could check the car manual for recommended charging procedures.

Electronics are not working because the battery isn’t charging, plus the battery is low, and the engine is off.

Don’t attempt to start the engine if you’re ever faced with this kind of situation. Rather, tow the car to a repair shop so you don’t worsen the problem.

What Are The Signs of a Bad Car Battery?

There are numerous signs of a bad battery. Some of them include:

  • The radio keeps turning off
  • Broken or loose battery terminals 
  • Low levels of distilled water in older batteries
  • Battery died within 10 minutes of turning off the engine


What Happens If My Battery Dies While Driving?

There’s nothing as frustrating as your car causing trouble while you’re driving (especially on the highway). These troubles will cause your car not to function as it should.

However, nothing will happen until you turn off your engine. Recall that the major purpose of the battery is to help the engine start and provide power to it and other electrical components in the vehicle.

To prevent the car from idling in the middle of the road, drive to clear space, turn off the engine, and contact your mechanic.

Why Did My Car Shut Off While Driving And Won’t Start?

The major triggers that cause your car to stop while driving and not start again are a bad alternator or battery. When the alternator in your vehicle develops a fault, it could cause your vehicle to shut off while driving. In extreme cases, it’ll cause your battery to run out of power to sustain the car.

Also, wrong battery connections or dead car batteries can hamper your car’s acceleration. Please take note that a car battery doesn’t die suddenly. It shows warning signs. So, it’s your place to notice the signs and take them to an expert for troubleshooting.

Can a Dead Battery Cause a Car to Die While Driving?

Definitely! A dead battery can cause your car’s engine to stop running, even while you’re driving!
When the battery is low, it’s an indication that the electrical system of the vehicle isn’t functioning properly. Most times, an alternator malfunction can cause the battery to die.

Can Car Batteries Die in Cold?

Car refusing to start in cold weather is a sign of a dead battery. You’ll need to try jump-starting. If the car still refuses to start, you’ll need to reach out to your mechanic to fix the problem.

How Old Should My Car Battery Be Before I Can Change it?

If your car’s battery is up to 3 years old, it’ll be best to get a replacement. Besides, the life expectancy of a 12-volt car battery is between 3 to 5 years.

Final Thoughts

As a car owner, it’s necessary to know some car parts and their functions.

For instance, when your car starts showing the battery warning light, it’s in your place to detect the issue and reach out to an expert mechanic or your auto parts dealer.

However, we believe the highlights we’ve discussed in this article will give you an edge. You’ll see the need to regularly maintain your car to avoid battery issues or any other related electrical faults.



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