What To Do When The Car Battery Light Goes On

Every day, there are thousands of things that go right with your car or truck. That includes starting up when you turn the key or hit the start button. But when the 12-volt battery light shows up on your dashboard, it can feel like a big deal, especially if your car has felt sluggish to start. Here’s what you need to know and how to pinpoint the issue.

Learn more about car batteries and how they work from the Les Schwab professionals.

Understanding The Battery Light

When the battery light appears on the dash of your gas-powered or EV vehicle, it can indicate a loose cable, bad wiring, or a dying battery. In gas-powered vehicles, it can also be an alternator issue. Or it might be nothing. If the indicator goes away after a few minutes or disappears after you restart your vehicle, there’s likely nothing to worry about.

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The times you do need to worry about that battery alert include:

  • Weak battery: The battery is not holding a charge and has trouble starting your vehicle.
  • Failing battery: Eventually, every car battery needs to be replaced. As a battery gets older, it becomes more difficult for them to hold a charge. If your battery is more than five years old, it’s time to get a new one.
  • Faulty alternator: If this is not working properly, the battery cannot be recharged and will quickly die. Alternator issues can include broken or damaged belts.
  • Loose or corroded battery connections: A loose connection or corrosion can damage the battery and/or drain it. Check your battery cables often. If you find any loose cables, tighten them. If you find any corrosion, clean it off to ensure a tight connection. Learn how to remove corrosion from your battery.
  • Electrical system issues: These problems can include faulty voltage regulators or wiring. Unless you like working under the dash to trace wires back to their origin and fuse, this is often the job for a professional.

Steps To Take If The Battery Light Turns On

Most of the time, the cause of the battery light is something that is easily fixed. The professionals at Les Schwab are happy to give your battery a free visual inspection. If the terminals seem loose or there’s significant corrosion, they can give you several options.

Want to check things on your own? Try these quick inspections.

  • Look for loose connections.Check the connection where the terminals attach to the battery posts. Are they loose? If so, tighten them up.

    Tightening a battery cable


  • Look for corrosion. If you find corrosion, a white powdery substance that forms on battery posts and terminals, clean it off. Here is some advice on how to remove corrosion from your battery.

    Battery light


  • Check your battery voltage. If your 12-volt battery reads less than 11.8 volts, you have a dead battery that either needs to be replaced or recharged. Need help checking the voltage on your car’s 12-volt battery? Stop by Les Schwab for a quick battery check.

    Installing a Battery

Troubleshooting The Battery Light

If the battery indicator is still on and you’ve tightened the cables, cleaned the corrosion, and checked the battery power, the next step is to stop by Les Schwab. We carry batteries for nearly everything you drive and offer free battery charging and free battery checks. If you need a new battery, we’ll remove the old one, clean up the cables, and install the new one. It’s our way of keeping you from getting stranded on the side of the road.

Preventing Future Battery Issues

Les Schwab is here to help you recognize the signs of a bad or dying battery, including the effects of cold and hot weather on that 12-volt bit of automotive wonder. To prevent future battery issues, come by for a free pre-trip safety check, which includes a visual inspection of your battery.