Can Your Car Battery Die While Driving

Your car battery plays an integral part in your vehicle. The car battery gives your engine the power necessary for it to run.

When you are driving and suddenly the battery warning lights glow on the dashboard, what does it mean? Can the battery die while driving? Continue reading to find out.

Can my car battery die while driving?

Yes, it’s possible. It’s common knowledge that a battery dies when it gets cold outside or your lights are on. A dead battery while your car engine is running signifies a problem with the car’s electrical system.

The appropriate action is to move the car off the busy road and stop in a safe location. The warning of the battery indicator is a serious matter because when you stop and the battery dies, the engine stops running.

It is difficult for a fully charged battery to suddenly die when your engine is still running. However, there are a few things that can bring this problem.

Can a dead battery make the engine die while driving?

Yes, a dead battery can cause your car engine to stop running while driving.  The dead battery means that a part of your car’s electrical system is not working properly. The most likely suspect is an alternator problem or malfunction.

The alternator converts energy from the drive belt into electrical energy to generate power for running the car’s electrical system.

Signs of a malfunctioning alternator are broken or slipping drive belt. You can identify the above problems through a visual inspection of the alternator.

Inspection may reveal a cracked or broken drive belt. You can fix the issue by replacing the drive belt. In case the drive belt is intact, then the problem is in the internal components.

Probably the culprit is a defective voltage regulator, dirty electrical connections, or failing diodes on your rectifier assembly.

It’s not easy repairing the alternator’s internal components. The work needs an experienced professional who can diagnose it properly and then fix the issue.

Why does the car battery die while driving?

The car battery is responsible for providing the initial power necessary to start the car engine. However, when your car engine is running, it’s the alternator that powers the car’s electrical system.

Consequently, as you drive the alternator recharges your car battery. Therefore, if your alternator can’t generate the necessary power then the battery can’t recharge. Also, your electrical system relies on your car battery for power.

The battery in turn has limited power and eventually is completely discharged by your electrical system. As much as the car engine is running without charge from the alternator, your battery eventually dies.

The other reason is a malfunctioning car battery. As much as your alternator is working properly, the battery can’t retain charge for long because of damaged cells or a faulty electrical connection that is stopping the battery from charging.

Visually inspect the battery to identify the problem. Most importantly, involve a professional if you think there is a problem with the electrical system.

Can the car battery die without any warning?

Yes. Even when your ignition is off and car accessories are on, the battery is discharging slowly. For example, your car battery keeps the clock running,  and powers your security system.

However, these accessories use limited power which isn’t enough to drain a healthy car battery. If your battery is faulty or it’s old, then the car battery can die without any warning. How? Your faulty or old battery will be unable to sustain the power your accessories discharge and die.

Also, if your electrical system has a problem, the discharge on your battery can increase causing it to die suddenly without warning. Contact an experienced professional to look into the issue and resolve it appropriately.

How do I know if I have a bad battery?

There are obvious signs to look for like the check engine warning signal light or car not starting. Also, look for the physical signs of battery problems or problems with the electrical system.

If problems persist even with your car engine running, then know that the battery is struggling to retain power and replace it.

Other signs of a bad car battery include:

  • Car requires frequent jumpstarting
  • Car stalling
  • The engine turns over three times before starting
  • Dim or no headlights
  • Problems starting the engine in cold weather
  • Dim interior lights
  • The car radio has a poor signal
  • Broken, corroded, or loose battery terminals
  • The low distilled water level in the battery

Pay attention to these warning signs to save yourself from being stranded because of a dead battery.  Diagnose the bad battery problem to rule out the electrical system or alternator problem.

However, if the issues persist even after replacing the bad battery with a healthy one, then consult an expert.

How do I know I have a bad alternator?

Sometimes a bad battery is a sign of a bad alternator. For instance, if you have a healthy battery that completely drains frequently. The viable reason is that your alternator isn’t recharging the battery. Don’t misdiagnose a bad alternator.

It’s dangerous to jumpstart a healthy battery before you fix the bad alternator because you will end up replacing good batteries.

If the car engine turns and turns without starting the car, then your problem is a faulty voltage on the alternator and not a bad battery. Consequently, the engine is getting limited power not enough for the initial spark.

Let a professional diagnose and repair your alternator to ensure the car starts with a single ignition.

Dim headlights, radio lights, interior lights, and taillights are signs of a bad alternator. Try stepping on the accelerator to see if the accessories lights blink or dim. It means the alternator is producing less power that can’t sustain the electrical system.

If you get an odd smell or sounds, it means you have a bad alternator and the drive belt is experiencing friction and not moving smoothly. A hot drive belt gives off a burning rubber smell. Also, a dirty or broken bearing creates a grinding or whining sound. Call a professional to resolve the issue.

Final Words

Always be keen when driving and listen to sounds and smells coming from your car. Things can appear simple but they are complex. Deal with experienced professionals to diagnose and repair the problems early.

A bad battery can die unexpectedly without warning. However, if you see the warning signs explained above, let a professional diagnose and resolve them to prevent a complete malfunction.

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