Complete Guide to Your Car Battery

Understanding how your car’s battery works can help you take the correct action when issues arise. These are the answers to the most frequently asked driver questions about their vehicle batteries.

How Does a Car Battery Work?

The car battery provides the power your car needs by igniting a chemical reaction that creates electrical energy. This voltage is delivered to the starter, which in turn starts the engine. As you drive, the battery also keeps the voltage stable so that the engine runs smoothly without stalling out.

How Long Do Car Batteries Last?

The average car battery needs to be replaced after four to five years, though this varies depending on how often you drive the vehicle and other factors. According to Popular Mechanics, you can extend the life of your battery by avoiding discharge/recharge cycles, such as allowing it to die by leaving the lights on and requiring a jump-start to get moving. They also recommend using a battery heater during cold weather to prevent the wear and tear caused by extreme temperatures.

What Is the Correct Way to Jump-Start a Battery?

Everyone finds themselves stranded at one time or another thanks to a dead battery. To safely jump-start your car, park it with the hood next to the hood of a working vehicle and put both cars in park or neutral. Turn off the engine of the working vehicle and turn off all electronics in both vehicles. Open the hood of each vehicle and attach the red (positive) jumper cable to the positive battery terminal (+) of the dead vehicle, and the black (negative) cable to the negative (-) battery terminal of the charged vehicle. Connect the other end of the black cable to an unpainted metal component of the dead vehicle. Turn on the car that’s working and allow it to idle for five to ten minutes. Turn off the engine and then disconnect the cables in reverse order before starting the dead car. Allow it to idle or take a short drive to give the battery a chance to recharge.

How Do I Know if I Need a New Car Battery?

The telltale signs that your car battery may be near the end of its life include a slow start-up when you crank the engine and problems with the electrical components of the vehicle such as dashboard lights and infotainment features. You can also take a look at your battery itself; if the case is bulging or if you notice a rotten egg odor under the hood, the battery is likely damaged. Many Kia models also have a dashboard light indicator in the shape of a battery to signal you that service is needed.

Can a Bad Battery Affect Other Car Components?

When your car battery isn’t working as well as it should, other car systems step in to compensate. This can lead to undue wear and tear on your charging system, starting motor, solenoid, and electrical systems — all of which are more expensive to repair or replace than the battery.

If you need a new battery, stop by the service center at Green Kia. While you’re here, check out our vast inventory of new and pre-owned Kias.