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Can a Car Battery Die While Driving? What You Need to Know

battery of a new car

You may have gone to start up your vehicle in the morning or after leaving a store, and it simply won’t turn over. But can a car battery die while you’re driving?

While a car battery can die while you’re driving, it’s quite unlikely. But if your car battery keeps dying, something is going on, and you must figure it out and fix it as soon as possible.

That’s why we developed this guide, to walk you through everything that you need to know.

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Can a Car Battery Die While Driving?

signs and symbols of a car battery
Image Credit: kaboompics, Pixabay

Yes, though it’s a rare occurrence. Your car uses electricity when driving. If you have a faulty battery or something else is going on and the system isn’t working as it should, your car battery can die while you’re driving.

While it’s unlikely that your entire vehicle will die because of a dead battery while you’re driving, it’s technically possible.

What Can Cause a Car Battery to Die While Driving?

Since the battery uses power while you’re driving, if it’s unable to accept a charge from the alternator, a bad battery can keep dying even while you’re driving.

Of course, the problem could be with the alternator itself. It doesn’t matter if you have a brand-new battery in there if nothing is charging it! These are typically the two problems that could lead to you having a dead battery while you’re driving, although there are many other things that could cause your vehicle to shut off while you’re driving.

How Long Should Your Car Battery Last?

It depends on the car battery and where you’re driving, but you can expect a standard lead-acid car battery to last anywhere from 3 to 7 years, depending on your location. The colder the region you live in, the shorter the battery’s lifespan is!

Of course, you can invest in an AGM or gel battery instead, as those can last quite a bit longer — often between 5 and 10 years! It still depends on your location, though, and you will want to use the battery regularly and keep it charged to get the most out of it.

Car battery
Image Credit: 13_Phunkod, Shutterstock

How to Troubleshoot a Car Battery That Dies While Driving

If your car battery keeps dying when you hit the road, you need to know what to do to troubleshoot it. Otherwise, it’ll keep happening, or even worse, you’ll end up replacing the wrong part.

Start by disconnecting the battery and fully charging it. While part stores like AutoZone will test the battery for you, they can’t get an accurate reading unless you have a fully charged battery.

Only once you have a fully charged battery should you test it and see if that’s the problem. If it is, then you will want to replace it, although you should check the rest of the system too. If you take your vehicle to AutoZone or another parts store, they should check the alternator for you. If it’s charging the battery, that shouldn’t be the problem, and the chance of your battery dying while you’re driving is quite low. However, there is one more thing that you want to check: a parasitic draw.

A parasitic draw pulls power from the battery when everything is supposed to be off. Since the battery might keep dying after you start driving, you might misdiagnose when it’s happening.

To test for a parasitic draw, pop open the hood, turn off the vehicle, and disconnect the negative terminal from the battery. Let it sit for about 5 minutes to get rid of any residual power, then hook up your multimeter.

Put the red lead on the “Amp” reading, then put one lead on the negative battery terminal and the other on the end of the negative battery cable. If there’s more than 50mA, you have a parasitic draw, which is likely what’s killing your battery.

Final Thoughts

It’s frustrating when you can’t get your vehicle to start, but hopefully after reading this guide, you can put those non-starting days behind you for good. If you can’t figure out the problem, though, take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic.

Otherwise, the extra stress on your car that comes from your battery constantly dying will lead to even more repairs!


Featured image Credit: BruceEmmerling, Pixabay

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