Battery Failure Causes In Cars and Trucks

Here’s an interesting article on something that just happened to me and my family this past weekend. I get customers all the time wondering how an electronic component on their vehicle can just go out like a snap of the fingers. Well, this is exactly what happened to the battery in my wife’s car a few days ago. The drive started out normally, we were going out to have some fun with our son, who had a birthday a few days prior. I stopped to fill up the car with gas, everything was cool. Once we reached our destination, I turned it off, got out and went about our business.

None of us had any thoughts that we might have car trouble later that day, we were just enjoying the things we were doing together as a family. Later that afternoon, we all got back in the car and as I went to start it…nothing! No lights, no gauges, no sound, and not even a click from the starter. I knew immediately we had a battery problem. The thing is, it was perfectly fine just two hours earlier! I can understand when people complain about failures like this, but it does happen quite often. I always use the light bulb story to try to get them to understand it a bit better.

I first tell people that any electronic component can go out at any time, just like that. I ask them if they can tell me when their light bulb in a lamp will go out? Of course they say no, since they can’t really tell or know when it will fail.

This is the same thing for electronic parts on your car or truck. Just like a light bulb, you cannot say for certain when it will go out or fail, but be certain that it will fail eventually. This just happened to be the time for our battery to fail, and there was nothing we could do to stop it or keep it from happening. We had to deal with the situation, and luckily someone nearby had a set of jumper cables so we could get fired up and on the road again. The power from the alternator would suffice to get us home, but I figured something bad had to happen to the battery for it fail so badly, so suddenly.

This was confirmed after our half hour ride home, and turning the car off. I immediately tried to restart it, figuring that the alternator would have given the battery enough of a charge to handle the load. It did not, and the car was totally dead again. This type of failure, where a battery won’t even take a charge is about as bad of a battery failure as you can get. When something like this happens, most times a cell inside the battery has gone bad, or a plate inside the batter came loose and is touching another one causing a direct short.

Needless to say, the next day work I purchased a new battery for her car and put it in that evening when I got home. Everything is fine now, and if all goes well, we should get another 5 or 6 years out of the new battery.

This was a good lesson to learn, especially for people who assume things like this can’t happen to them. Believe me, as good as electronics are these days in all types of vehicles, any one of them on your particular car or truck can be gone in a second…..poof!

Ford Taurus

Several months after AAA fitted their ‘top battery’ into my 2007  Ford Taurus, whilst driving to the airport the red light came up on my car screen telling me there was a problem with the battery. Is there something connected to the battery that may be causing the problem, please?

Yes, there is a sensor that measures the battery state of health and the charging system. Get the alternator checked, it may be going bad which would cause the battery to go dead.

Chevy Malibu

Can I put a battery from a 1998 Chevy Malibu into a 2000 Chevy Impala?

The battery will physically fit in the car yes, but it is NOT the same size battery as required in the Impala. It will work, but isn’t quite right.

Do you recommend I just go buy a new one the right one?

That would always be best, but if you’re in a pinch the Malibu batter will work until you can get the correct one in the Impala.

Thank you for all your time and answerin my questions.