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.