Having trouble starting your vehicle? It might be a battery issue. Outside of running a free test at AutoZone, you can look out for the following symptoms of a bad battery:

Signs of a dead car battery


Your dashboard warning light

Your dashboard warning light comes on. Most cars today include an indicator that lights up when the battery reading isn’t good.


Engine cranks slow or not at all

Your engine cranks slowly or won’t start at all. The purpose of the battery is to crank the engine by providing a full dose of power to the starter. When the battery is low, it cannot deliver that power. This issue causes the crank to turn slowly, and you will hear that failure to crank properly when you engage the starter.


No radio

Your radio doesn’t turn on. Don’t mistake it for a minor inconvenience. When the ignition is in the ON position, the battery will run the radio, windshield wipers, and headlights, among other electronic devices. If these flicker or dim before starting, your battery charge is weak.


Swollen battery size

The battery is fat, or swollen. The manufacturer designs your battery to have a specific footprint, and if the battery swells in size, you should be able to see it. If you have a bloated battery, the alternator has a faulty voltage regulator and has over charged the battery. This over charging of the battery is caused by a buildup of hydrogen gases faster than the battery can dissipate. Damage to the battery has already been done and cannot be reversed.


Odd smell from your battery

If the battery smells – This is a warning sign that your battery is ready to fail, if it hasn’t already. Usually, a battery has no smell, by design. If you smell rotten eggs, this means that your battery has vented gas. It has also released sulfuric acid that could harm other parts of your engine. So this smell is potentially the costliest problem listed here if you aren’t proactive in fixing it. AutoZone recommends replacing the battery quickly.


Your battery is old

Your battery is old. The average life span of a car battery is typically between four to six years. At around the four-year mark, you should pay more attention to it. Have a technician check to see how much charge it has. AutoZone provides this service for free.


Check engine light flashes

The check engine light flashes or stays on constantly. Generally, this light identifies serious problems in your engine that will require costly maintenance. But you may get lucky and discover that it’s only your car battery that needs replacement. Visit your local AutoZone store for a free diagnosis.

If you’re having car battery trouble, it’s time to head to your local AutoZone for free battery testing. If the battery is discharged but still technically sound, we can charge up the battery so you can be on your way. If the battery fails the test, we can help you find a suitable replacement.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

FREE Loan-A-Tool® program requires returnable deposit. Please note that the tool that you receive after placing an online order may be in a used but operable condition due to the nature of the Loan-A-Tool® program.

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