Can my car battery die while driving? This is the most obvious question many car owners seek a straightforward answer to.
You are driving at a decent speed on a straight mountain road and suddenly the battery warning lights start flashing and catching your attention.
At first, you will wonder how this is possible. But surprisingly, this is possible. Yes, your car battery can die while you are driving. Sounds strange yet worth knowing? Read on to know more about this.
Can a car battery die while driving?
Your car battery’s initial job to start the car and the moment your engine starts, the entire car’s electrical system shifts to the alternator for its power needs.
In all this, the alternator also charges the battery. Hence, if the alternator somehow stops functioning or goes out, the battery can replace it and power the entire car.
However, this is possible only when the battery has enough charge to do so. As the alternator is not working, it’ll not charge the battery.
As a result, as soon as the battery goes out of charge, it’ll stop powering the car, and subsequently, the car will come to a halt.
So, either due to a battery malfunction or the falling of the alternator, the battery can die while driving.
What happens if your car battery dies while driving?
If the battery dies, there are two things possible at that moment. First, if the alternator is working fine and only the battery dies, you won’t experience any major change in the car and its performance.
That is as when you’re driving i.e. the engine is running, the alternator is at work and powering all the components of the car. Hence, the battery has no major role at the moment.
Second, if the alternator is out of shape and the entire car is running on the battery only, there are chances of the battery too going off after some time.
This is because as the alternator is off, the battery would have a low charge, and since it’s the sole source of power, it’s more likely to get exhausted.
In a nutshell, what will happen when the battery dies while driving is more or less dependent on the alternator i.e. is it working or not.
If it’s working, there is no need to ponder and if it’s not, you may find yourself stranded in the middle of the road.
What can you do When your Car Battery Dies While Driving?
As said above, your battery can die while driving and there are many reasons for the same to happen. However, remember that there is nothing to worry about, and below is what you should do in such a circumstance.
Try to take your car off the road:
When you are driving and both the alternator and battery go off, it is a cause of concern for many drivers.
However, you should not panic and act calmly. The first and foremost thing you should do is take the vehicle off the road.
Yes, as you won’t have control over the power steering and brakes if the battery dies while driving, you can still take the car to a safer location.
For this, try to slow down the vehicle as much as you can, drive towards the side of the road, and keep using the emergency brakes.
This way, both you and the other vehicles will stay safe. However, here’s a catch. If you’re experiencing anything that indicates a dying battery, always slow down the vehicle on a safer side.
Try to restart the car
Now that you have taken the car to the safer location off the road, you should start restarting the car. It may sound difficult but in rare cases, the battery can have some charge left in it to start the car.
There are multiple reasons behind the same. Hence, try to restart the car after parking it at a safer location.
One way of doing this is reviving the battery by either jump-starting it or charging. But these are only possible when the battery hasn’t died and it’s merely the alternator that has died & causing all the troubles.
Switch on all emergency flashers
If your car has suddenly stopped right in the middle of the busy road and you’re unable to take it off the road and restart it by any means.
This can pose a great threat for you and the other vehicles plying on the road.
Hence, in this situation, it’s better to turn on all the emergency flashers and try to generate as much brightness as you can. This will indicate to the other drivers about your misery and help both of you stay safe.
Ask for help
Your last resort after being stranded in the middle of a busy road with a stalled car refusing to start is to call for help.
Here, you have multiple things to do. You can either call out the nearby drivers for assistance or dial the car towers to tow your car to the nearest mechanic or call your friend for quick help.
So, these are the four things you can do after being stranded in the middle of a busy road with a stalled car refusing to start.
Can A Car Battery Die Without Warning?
The battery starts your car and the moment your engine starts, the entire car’s electrical system shifts to the alternator for its power needs.
In all this, the alternator charges the battery. However, if the alternator somehow stops functioning or goes out, the battery takes over and again powers the entire car.
Now, if the battery is short of charge and it can’t even power the minor components of the car, there are chances that the battery will die without a warning.
Although this is very rare with the cars being manufactured today, it can happen. But if you’re attentive enough and can make out whether the battery is dying or underperforming much earlier, you can avoid the above.
That is, as the battery will start losing its charge, the car components will gradually start going off. Noticing these changes, you’d plan out strategy well ahead of time.
Will my car battery die if I leave the car running?
Leaving the car running in the parked position refers to idling. For the above question that does a battery die due to idling, the answer is no. Let’s understand this in a better manner.
When you have left the car engine running though, in the parked position, the alternator is working like it should and charging the battery.
However, the rate of charging in such a case is much slower than it is while driving.
This is because while driving, the alternator operates at a higher RPM and charges the battery at a similar rate. And while idling, the alternator runs at lower RPM and subsequently charges the battery at a lower rate.
Hence, if you leave the car running for a long time, the battery will last as long as the alternator is charging it and the electrical system isn’t dependent on the battery.
However, in another scenario where the alternator isn’t charging to its potential or due to any other reason the battery isn’t retaining the charge, the battery can die all of a sudden.
The situation worsens if your car houses a plethora of heavy equipment and components that intend to suck excessive power out of the battery in a short time.
In a nutshell, idling will have no much effect on the battery as long as the alternator is providing the required power to idle.
If it’s not, the entire burden will fall on the battery, and due to less or no charge, the battery will gradually die.
What can cause a car to die while driving?
Car dying while driving is the most annoying experience no one would ever like to experience yet it can grasp anyone.
The worst scenario is when the car dies on a highway or a crowded road. Be it any place, the following reasons are the main causes behind your car dying while driving.
Running out of fuel
It’s strange but true. Some drivers mistakenly forget to top up their car’s fuel tank and subsequently find the car run out of gas in the middle of the road.
If not the driver, the fuel gauge can display wrong readings. That is, even if the fuel tank is close to empty, the gauge may display half full and when the fuel tank is full, the gauge will display empty.
A faulty battery that needs replacement
A battery isn’t made to last till eternity. A running battery can last for a maximum of 3-5 years if taken care of.
On the other hand, the battery of your car that’s sitting in the garage for a long time is more likely to go down within 2-3 months.
Also, since a battery gets repeatedly charged and discharged, it further adds to the battery woes. Besides, your driving style and the weather outside can likewise affect your battery’s life.
To test if the battery is itself out of shape and near its end, charge the battery through a charger. After fully charging the battery, it keeps on dying or discharging quickly, it’s near its end and needs replacement.
An issue in the fuel pump
The fuel pump delivers fuel from the fuel tank to the engine for the combustion process to finish. However, there is a certain pressure and flow rate a fuel pump must maintain to achieve the same.
Now, if there is any fault in the fuel pump, it may not pump the fuel at its optimal rate and pressure. As a result, the combustion process will not take place at its rate and the car will eventually come to a halt.
If your fuel pump has a fuel filter attached to it, check whether the filter is clean or not.
If it’s not clean and blocked with contaminants like dirt, grease, or debris, the same could act as another contributor to your car woes.
Other reasons include:
- Malfunctioning in the ignition switch.
- Low charge in the attenuator.
- The battery isn’t getting charged or is unable to retain the charge.
- Faulty signal sensors, etc.
These are the few reasons that contribute to stalling your car while driving.
Suppose yourself driving at a decent speed on a straight mountain road and suddenly the battery warning lights start flashing and grab your attention.
At first, you will wonder how this is possible. As so far, I’ve talked about the battery going bad or dying when the car sits for weeks or years without being driven.
Yet due to several reasons, the battery can die while you are driving like the ones listed above.
In most cases resembling this situation, either there comes a fault associated with the alternator or the battery or both.
Still if not taken care of, other issues can arise due to the same. Hence, it’s better to get the car checked from time to time for any interior fault.