How often do you think about your car battery? If you’re like most people, the answer is “never” until there is a problem. A car battery light on the dashboard can indicate any number of problems under the hood, from a damaged battery to a malfunction in the alternator.
However, before breaking out the jumper wires or worrying about possible repairs, take some time to determine why your dashboard’s battery light is on. It could be a quick fix!
What Does The Battery Light Mean?
If the battery warning light (a light in the shape of a battery symbol) on the dashboard comes on while you’re driving, that means the charging system isn’t working, but the fault may lie in something other than the battery. The alternator generates the power that is stored in the battery.
If your car battery light comes on when you start the car, you know! It is completely normal for this light to come on when you first turn on your car. The light goes out after a few seconds.
If the lights stay on while driving, pay attention. You will likely notice other signs of a low battery, such as slow window regulators or a stereo system that cannot be switched on.
An illuminated battery light could be due to a number of issues, including:
- A loose or corroded battery cable
- A problem with the alternator or voltage regulator
- Damaged cells or plates inside the battery
- Faulty wiring in the car’s electric charging system
A dashboard battery light basically means there’s a battery charging problem. Your car isn’t getting enough voltage from the car battery to operate properly. It needs more “juice!”
Troubleshooting Your Battery Light
Let’s talk about your car battery light now! It could mean it’s time to replace the battery. However, the light can also be triggered by a minor (and easy-to-fix) problem like corrosion or loss of terminals. So put on some protective gloves, read the instruction manual, and follow the steps below to fix the battery yourself.
Check for corrosion.
In some vehicles, fumes from the regular operation can cause corrosion to build upon the battery terminals, especially in the summer months or in regions with warm weather all year round. To check for corrosion, remove all covers from the connectors on the top of your battery.
If you see a white or greenish substance on top of the battery or around the connectors, corrosion has occurred! While battery corrosion is common, it can affect the conduction of electricity from the battery to the rest of your car.
Do not touch the battery corrosion with bare hands as this can cause skin irritation. Instead, skip to our next troubleshooting tip.
Clean the battery terminals.
If you’ve noticed significant corrosion or other grime around on your battery terminals, this could be why your car battery light is on. Fortunately, it’s easy and inexpensive to clean your battery terminals with common household items and a little elbow grease. Simply remove the terminal covers, disconnect the battery cables, and give the terminals a hearty scrub.
Still confused about how to do it check out our article: How to clean battery terminals?
Tighten the cable clamps.
Sometimes a car battery light comes on because of a weak connection between your battery and the cables attached to it. With the hood open, verify that the clips are securely attached to your battery terminals.
If you find that the terminals are loose, use a small wrench or pliers to tighten them until they are snug against the terminals. Please refer to the owner’s manual for specific instructions for your vehicle make/model.
What to Do When Your Car Battery Light Is (Still) On
You’ve looked for corrosion and removed it and tightened loose battery cables. But your battery lamp is still on ?! The culprit could be a mechanical problem, such as an issue with the alternator or voltage regulator. Or it could be something systematic, like bad wiring.
What could cause the battery light to come on?
An illuminated battery light could be due to a number of issues, including A loose or corroded battery cable. A problem with the alternator or voltage regulator. Damaged cells or plates inside the battery.
Can I drive my car with the battery light on?
Yes, you can, for a short time. The light indicates that the alternator isn’t charging the battery, which means your car’s electrical system isn’t getting the full power it needs.
How can you tell if it’s the battery or alternator?
If your engine won’t turn over or takes far longer than usual, it’s time to grab the jumper cables and attempt a jump-start. If your engine starts and stays running but won’t start again later, it’s likely a battery problem. If your vehicle immediately stalls, it’s probably a bad alternator.
What causes battery light to come on and off?
Basically, the light indicates a battery charging problem. If the light comes on and stays on while driving, this means that your alternator is running solely on energy stored in the battery. If you continue driving, your battery will eventually drain and your vehicle will stop working.
How do you check if your alternator is bad?
First, open the hood and start the car. While the engine is running, remove the negative cable from the battery. If the vehicle stalls or dies, the alternator is likely bad. This happens because the alternator is not generating enough electricity to keep the engine running on its own.
Why is my battery light on but alternator is charging?
The cause of the battery light could be a loose or corroded battery cable or other wire connecting components of the charging system, or it might be a problem with the alternator or voltage regulator. The alternator generates the power that is stored in the battery.
Why does my battery light not go away after replacing alternator and battery?
Hello. It is possible that the problems that you have been experiencing with the bad alternators have damaged the battery causing it to be weak. This would make the Battery Light come on. It is also possible that there is a problem with the fusible link or the alternator fuse for the charging system.
What does it mean when alternator light comes on?
The alternator light will either be a battery or an ALT, both can indicate that your alternator isn’t working properly. Without an alternator, your battery isn’t going to stay charged. During a ride in your vehicle, your alternator recycles energy and charges up your battery.
Can a bad battery cause battery light?
Probably the most common cause of the battery warning light is a failure of the battery itself. Over time, batteries can become damaged, the terminals can become corroded, or the cables can become dislodged or damaged.
Will a car start with a bad alternator?
When the alternator is failing, there might not be enough power in the spark plugs to keep the engine alive, which can cause it to stall for no reason while running, or to have trouble starting. Ignore this symptom, and your car eventually won’t start at all.
Will battery light stay on if alternator is bad?
Alternators are designed to work at a specific voltage, typically between 13-14.5 volts. If your alternator is failing, its voltage may drop below capacity, causing the battery warning light to appear on your dash.
Is there a fuse for a alternator?
Your car contains a wide range of fuses, including fuses for the alternator. The primary alternator fuse (or fusible link) will blow whenever there’s excessive current flow due to a short circuit or other malfunction.
Can you drive with the alternator light on?
Is it safe to drive with the alternator warning light on? When this light is illuminated, your car is still somewhat safe to drive as you will have enough battery power to run the engine.
What does the red battery light mean?
The battery indicator illuminating on your dashboard means there is a charging issue; however, it does not necessarily mean that your battery is about to die. There are many reasons why it could come on, including Loose battery cables. Corroded battery cables or terminals.
Where is the alternator warning light located?
A typical circuit has the warning light wired directly to a terminal at the rear of the alternator. The wire runs from the alternator through the bulkhead and up to the warning light mounted in the dashboard.