Car Battery

What Drains a Car Battery? (7 Examples)

This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, we may receive a small commission (at zero cost to you). Please see our full disclosure policy for details.

Naturally, a lot of things get us worried and exhausted. You can talk about poor feeding habits or doing a lot of work. But nothing frustrates a car owner or driver more than frequently having to wake up and find their car battery drained. The irony is that your battery does not need to do a lot of work before it gets drained. 

Your Car Battery can drain from a variety of different things including leaving your headlights on, often short drives, damage in the charging system such as the alternator, electrical issues and battery malfunctions. These can all cause your car battery to drain today. In this post you will learn more about the signs and symptoms that you can analyze.

There are different reasons your car battery can feel drained. Imagine putting off your newly acquired SUV convertible Range Rover, parked it for the night, only to wake up to find out that you are unable to start it the next day. That feeling of frustration can raise your blood pressure! More so that your battery ignites your car into life, you don’t want to trade its functionality with anything.  

When you have a dead or drained car battery, the natural symptom is that your car won’t start when you try to kick start it. And when this happens, you feel downcast and you may start to search everywhere for a possible way out. But you can also prevent your car battery from draining.

You will need to first understand the reasons your car battery gets drained. We have put together a list of the primary causes of what drains your car battery. 

Don’t make the mistake of skipping one part of this post because it has got you covered on all information you need to have in terms of why your car battery drains. 

What Drains a Car Battery?

Let’s get into the discussion. 

Do you Leave the Headlights on?

This is the first and primary reason why you wake up to a drained battery. If you leave your headlights on overnight, you can be sure that your battery will drain and lose its capacity to spur your car into action.

The first thing to check if you notice that your car battery keeps draining is your lights. However, the latest designs of car headlights are designed to go off after some time. However, if your vehicle does not have this feature, your headlights might remain on until you switch them off or until your car battery becomes completely drained.

Of course, most drivers would not intentionally leave their headlights on; it is usually a mistake a driver makes at least once in a while. So when you notice that your car battery keeps draining, just check to see if your headlights are left on overnight or for an extended period. 

How Many Short Drives Do You Have?

Are you a driver who loves to take your car out for short distances often? That is another reason why your car battery got drained. Moving the engine frequently will cost the engine a tremendous amount of power from your battery. However, the alternator usually recharges your battery when the vehicle is in motion. Still, if you keep taking the car on numerous short drives, the alternator might end up not having enough time to recharge your car battery between stops. This is even worse when your car battery is an old one. 

In essence, going on frequent short trips will shorten the lifespan of your car battery and eventually get your battery drained. 

Under Which Conditions Do You Drive?

Extreme weather conditions can be a serious concern when it comes to experiencing a drained car battery. Different weather conditions can cause severe problems for your car battery. When the weather gets too hot or becomes too low, it will have a destructive impact on your car battery, and leaving your car in this harsh weather for a long time will force an accumulation of sulfate crystals. Now, this accumulation of sulfate crystals is one of the primary reasons why the lifespan of your car battery will be shortened. 

The build-up of sulfate crystals increases the time needed for your car battery to be fully recharged and also makes recharging difficult. However, new car batteries tend to resist these extreme weather conditions, unlike the old batteries that become weak in their performance.  

Does Your Car Have a Damaged Charging System?

Another reason why your car battery may be getting drained could be that the battery is not getting recharged as a result of the damaged charging system. While your car depends on your battery to fire up the engine, your car battery depends on the alternator to remain charged. To get your battery recharged, the alternator of your car is responsible for the provision of energy. 

With a faulty or undependable charging system, your car battery can also get drained while running the car. This is because if the alternator is not drawing in enough voltage — which is usually around the axis of 13.5 to 14.5 volts —, the battery will get drained quickly and may eventually die. 

Now, if anything goes wrong with the alternator, then your battery is sure to be dying soon. The moment your battery get drained while running, the radio (if it’s in use) and headlights will cease to operate. With the battery drained, there is nothing you can do until you get your car battery charged. 

What is the Condition of Your Car Battery?

Just as the say goes that “Nothing lasts forever,” this includes your car battery. It doesn’t matter the level of quality and durability of your car battery; eventually, it will wear off. Some good batteries can stay up to five years, depending on the usage and your location. Be reminded once more that extreme weather conditions and frequent short drives can reduce the lifespan of your car battery. When your battery begins to die quickly, say after a jumpstart, then it might be the time to start thinking of getting a new one. 

Apart from your location and short trips that may trigger a short lifespan, poor battery maintenance can also leave your battery in breakable condition. In this condition, the battery won’t be able to retain power for an extended period, and then the battery will eventually die. Finally, take care of your car battery if you don’t want to wake up in the morning and deal with a drained car battery. 

Parasitic Drains?

In the electrical system of your car, there are issues that parasite on your battery and drain its energy. Parasitic drains come in different forms and so may be a little bit difficult to identify or detecteasily unlike some other issues. With the help of a technician, you can get a comprehensive diagnosis and recommendation. However, when you notice that the trunk lights come on and remain there when they shouldn’t, they can kill your battery. The glove box is also a member of the team of the parasitic drains.

What About Loose Electrical Connections?

This is another reason your car battery gets drained. Once your battery connections are either loose or corroded, you are likely to have a drained car battery. Loose connections often prevent proper charging of your battery, especially when you’re driving, whether at a low or high speed.

Signs to Look out for to Detect a Weak Car Battery

There are a few signs of bad and weak battery life you should look out for. Regardless of the type, model, brand, or condition of the car, these symptoms are common and sacrosanct. You have to take them very seriously. Otherwise, you will keep experiencing a drained battery and you may indirectly be preparing your car to take a great portion of your lean income monthly. If you notice any of these signs, keep in mind that your car battery needs to be fixed or replaced. They include:

Faint Headlights 

Once your battery is drained or weak, you will notice that your headlights are faint. They will be unable to light your way and night driving becomes a huge challenge. Have a technician check and diagnose your car when your car headlights go dim.

Ticking Sound When You Use the Key

No doubt, a dead battery causes the car not to start. As you try to ignite the engine into action by turning the key at the ignition switch, you will hear a ticking sound that signals the car won’t start. A malfunctioning or weak battery is the first thing to suspect. 

When You Have to Apply Pressure on the Gas Pedal to Start Your Car 

Ordinarily, you only need a mild stepping on the gas pedal to start a car. However, when it requires that you have to apply much pressure to the pedal before your car starts, you will need to check the battery; it may have become weak or bad. In that case, you will take your car to a technician for a proper diagnosis.  

The Dashboard Warning Light Comes On

Once your car battery is dead or drained, you will notice that the dashboard warning light will come on to signal that something is wrong in your car. Interestingly, most of the new models of cars today come with that dashboard light that shows that your battery is going down and needs to be recharged or replaced.  

Engine Light Constantly Beeps

The flash of the light from the engine is another sign to watch out for when your car battery is dead or bad. You will have to check the engine light flashes because they stay on constantly. Once you see this light on, you should be wary and a dead battery is one of the first major suspects.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are many questions car owners and drivers are frequently curious about when it comes to this part of car maintenance. The battery or its environment is not a component of your car you should toy with. Learn to ask as many questions and acquire as much knowledge as you can from some of the frequently asked questions on why car battery drains.    

Q: Is my phone charger draining my car battery?

When you leave your phone charger plugged in the car when the car engine is not running, it will end up depleting the power. To prevent the car battery from draining, unplug the phone when the car battery is not recharging.

Q: How long can my car stay before the battery gets drained?

Well, let’s say two to three months. The car battery becomes fully discharged between two to three months of being inactive. When you leave your vehicle with a fully charged battery for a while without being used, you will not be able to kick-start the motor of your car. 

Q: Can my car battery die while I’m driving?

Actually, when you are driving your car, the alternator charges your battery. Although there is a limited amount of power, the battery will get before becoming completely discharged from the electrical system. Sometimes, when your car engine is running without getting any charge from the alternator, your car battery will die. 

Q: What is the average lifespan of a car battery?

The car’s battery is considered old once it is established that it has spent up to between four to six years. This is the average lifespan of a battery and by this time, you should try to replace it with a new one. Get a technician to carry out an auto diagnosis to see how your car battery is working and charging and whether it needs a replacement.

Final Thoughts

Finally, even though you think that your car battery might still be in good shape, don’t take any chances. You need to educate yourself on some of the reasons why your car battery might get drained. This knowledge will help you strategize preventive measures that will eventually save you from a lot of stress that is associated with driving a car. 

Take all necessary precautions by following the tips contained in this post. Needless to mention that a drained car battery is the scourge of a journey, you must do everything possible to avoid being stranded in the middle of a trip.   

Similar Posts