Thursday Tip: Red Battery Light is lit on the dashboard

Why you need to get it checked!

It is that time of year again when the nights start to draw in and the darkness in the morning gets longer, and so we become far more reliant on the lights and, by default, the battery in our car. As a result, it is not uncommon for the battery light to come on. Still, when it does, we need to do something about it, and quickly as we run the risk of stopping on the road or not starting in the morning, situations that could be avoided by taking a few minutes to do a quick inspection.

How often do you think about your car battery?


If we are being honest the answer is most likely “never” that is until there’s an issue with it. When the red battery light lights up on the dashboard of your car it could mean several things from a damaged battery to a glitch in the alternator but one thing it does mean for certain is that there is a problem with the charging of the battery.

However, before you run to get the jump leads or the booster pack you need to look at why the battery light is on your dashboard. Like most things in a car, when there is a fault a light comes on, Now in fairness some are more serious than others but rest assured 9 times out of 10 there is an issue and not a faulty sensor, so check it out, it might be a quick fix!

Car Battery inspection and test at Oliver's Car Services in Gorey

What Does the Battery Light Mean?


If your car battery light comes on when you start the car but then goes off after a second or two, you are fine! It is absolutely normal for the battery light to illuminate red when you first turn your car on. The light will turn off after a few seconds.

However, if the light stays on or comes on when you are driving then you need to pay more attention as this means there is a problem with the batteries charging capabilities.  One way you might notice this is that other signs of a weak battery occur such as other electrical elements such as windows, heaters, Air Conditioning, radios stop or will not turn on.  Another one to look out for at other lights coming on the dashboard so that the dash resembles more a Christmas tree than a dashboard, this again can signify a weak battery.

Car Battery inspection and test at Oliver's Car Services in Gorey

What can cause a Red Battery light to come on?


This could be down to several issues, including:

  • A loose or corroded battery cables
  • A problem with the alternator or voltage regulator
  • Damaged cells or plates inside the battery
  • Faulty wiring in the car’s electric charging system
  • Damaged or broken drive belt
  • Damaged or misaligned pulley and tensioners


Let’s face it a Red Battery light on your dashboard basically means there is a problem with the batteries charging capabilities. Your car is not getting enough voltage from the car battery to operate properly. It needs more “power!”

Car Battery inspection and test at Oliver's Car Services in Gorey

Troubleshooting Your Battery Light


OK so the light is on, let’s look at how we can attempt to diagnose the issue. It could mean that the battery itself can no longer hold a charge and needs to be replaced but it could also mean something minor has taken place, like corrosion on the battery terminals or a cable has come loose so a minor issue that is easily fixed.

Firstly, put on some protective gloves, consult your owner’s manual, and then carefully follow the steps below to troubleshoot the battery yourself.

Check for corrosion

In some vehicles, fumes from regular operation can cause corrosion to accumulate on top of the battery terminals. To check for corrosion, remove any covers from the terminals on top of your battery. If you see a white or greenish substance on the top of the battery or around the terminals, you have corrosion! While battery corrosion is common, it can interfere with the conduction of electricity from the battery to the rest of your car. Do not touch battery corrosion with your bare hands, as it could cause skin irritation. Instead, you can clean the battery terminals as outlined next.

Clean the battery terminals

If you noticed significant corrosion or other grime around your battery terminals, this could be why your car battery light is on. Fortunately, it is easy and inexpensive to clean your battery terminals with common household items and a bit of elbow grease. Simply remove the terminal covers, disconnect the battery cables, and give the terminals a hearty scrub.

Car Battery inspection and test at Oliver's Car Services in Gorey

Tighten the cable clamps.

Sometimes a car battery light comes on because there’s a weak connection between your battery and the cables that connect to it. While you have the bonnet open, check the clamps are securely fastened to your battery terminals. If you notice that the clamps are loose, use a small wrench or a pair of pliers to tighten them until they’re snug around the terminals. Consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions related to your vehicle make/model.

What to Do When Your Car Battery Light Is (Still) On


You’ve checked for and cleaned off any corrosion, and you’ve tightened up any loose battery cables. But your battery light is still on?! The culprit could be a mechanical issue, like a problem with the alternator or voltage regulator. Or, it could be something systematic, like faulty wiring. This is something that almost certainly requires professional help.

How often should you change a car battery?


Car batteries, on average, last between 5 and 7 years but you should only consider changing a car battery when it’s showing signs of deterioration.

If the battery’s more than 5 years old and seems like it’s struggling to start the car then get it checked out as it is far better to be safe than sorry.  One-in-three breakdowns are caused by faulty batteries and one-in-four batteries tested are found to be faulty. So if your car is struggling to start then get it sorted as it will be more than a minor inconvenience if it breaks down on the roadside or  on a cold morning when you’re already late for work.

What’s next?


If you find that the light is still on there get in contact with us here at Oliver’s Car Service Centre and we will check your battery and alternator for you and recommend any repairs necessary or if a new battery is needed.  The main this is for you not to get stranded by having a faulty battery so if the Red Battery light comes on in your car then get it checked.

Book your Battery inspection and test in Gorey with Oliver’s Car Service Centre today!

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