If your car won't start in the morning and instead is making a fast clicking sound, it is most likely due to a dead battery, which is much more common during cold weather. You should begin charging the battery as soon as possible, as it can be permanently damaging to a car battery's health if it is left at zero charge. In this article, we're going to walk you through some of the common causes of battery failure and advise you on how you can check the charge of your battery. We'll also discuss some of the other problems that could be responsible. If you have any questions, or live in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and would like for us to take a look at your vehicle, contact us today!
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Common Causes of Battery Failure:
A battery can be dead for many reasons, but the common causes are:
- Interior light left on
- Headlights left on
- Old battery that cannot hold a charge for long
- Cold Weather (cold coupled with a battery in poor health will most likely mean a dead battery)
- Device or accessory left charging in the DC power port of the vehicle overnight
- Alternator not charging battery effectively
How Can I Check the Charge of My Battery?
The precise volts of a car battery can be checked using a voltmeter or multimeter. A multimeter can be purchased from a hardware store for around $15.
Method 1: Check Charge of Idle Battery
- Turn the car off.
- Remove the battery cover.
- Connect (or contact) the positive lead on the voltmeter/multimeter to the positive terminal on the battery. Connect the negative lead to the negative terminal.
- Observe voltmeter/multimeter (ensure multimeter is on correct setting). The reading should be between 12.4 and 12.7 volts. Anything less then 12.4 volts means your battery needs to be charged.
Method 2: Check to Make Sure Battery is Charging
- Turn your car on, allowing it to idle. Do this in an open, outdoor space.
- Connect the positive and negative leads of the voltmeter/multimeter to the positive and negative terminals on the battery.
- Observe the reading. The battery should read 13.5+ volts, which means it is charging correctly. If the reading is less than 13.5 volts, the alternator is not working correctly, and your battery will be dead after a few trips (since it is not being charged).
What If It's Not My Battery?
While a bad battery is the most common issue that we come across when a car is making clicking noises, there are some other possible issues that you may want to look into.
The Starter Solenoid
If you hear one loud click or no click rather than fast clicking noises when you start your car, you might have a problem with your starter solenoid, also known as the starter relay. The starter solenoid is the part of your vehicle which switches a large electric current to the starter motor and sets the engine in motion. If your battery is fine but you're still having problems, you'll want to check the solenoid first. Check out this great article, "Troubleshooting Solenoid and Electrical Car Problems" for some great advice on how to diagnose whether the solenoid is the problem.
Corroded or Loose Cables
Sometimes it's as simple as having some corroded or loose wires to take care of. If you notice that some of your battery terminal connections are corroded or worn down you can test whether or not this is the issue by placing a screwdriver (with an insulated or wooden handle) between the connector and terminal post and twist it to keep it firmly in place. If you try and start your vehicle now and it works then you'll know your battery is fine but your cables connections need to be replaced or tightened.
Still Having Problems?
If you've checked your battery, solenoid, and connections, and they're all in working order but you're still having trouble with your vehicle, it might be time to bring your vehicle to a local mechanic for inspection. If you live in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and would like to have us take a look at your vehicle, you can just head on over to our Book an Appointment page.