Flat Car Battery? Know The Warning Signs And What Action To Take

Flat car battery? Know the warning signs and what action to take

Don’t be a breakdown statistic. How to prevent a roadside battery disaster

Today’s cars are complex and filled with modern technology. It may be surprising to discover that the number one cause of vehicle breakdowns is still battery issues. Yes, that innocent cube under the bonnet is guilty as charged (well, not charged, actually). And yet, this integral element often gets minimal owner care and maintenance.

Picture this. It’s a cold and rainy day, and you’re about to leave for that super-important meeting. You look schmick in your best outfit. You‘re ready to roll and turn the key in the ignition. But … nothing... zip… flat.

Yes, it’s usually at the worst possible time that your battery causes issues.

Battery flattery

Flattery may get you everywhere, but a flat battery gets you stranded.

Read on to discover:

  • Warning signs that your battery may be struggling
  • How to get the health of your battery checked (and it’s free)
  • What to do if the worst happens and you’re stuck with a dead battery.

Don’t end up a roadside statistic. Know the warning signs of a nearly flat car battery

Don’t end up a roadside statistic. Know the warning signs of a nearly flat car battery

A battery expert explains how not to get left on the side of the road

To help avoid a roadside disaster, we spoke to Battery World’s national product manager. Sebastian (Seb) Keane earned his battery stripes in the Townsville Battery World store. After a stint as state manager for Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, Seb became the national product manager. With over 7 years of experience, Seb knows his way around batteries. And you can bet he has a few tales about battery failure.

So, we spent some time asking Seb how to keep you and your battery motoring along (and not miss your meetings).

Can you tell us about your most memorable roadside battery assistance call-out?

I’ll never forget my first-ever weekend call-out. At 9 pm on a Sunday, I got called to jump start a person’s Camper Van. They needed to get their daughter to the hospital for insulin because she had diabetes. They were stranded in the Jourama National Park, and I travelled an hour and a half to get there. The crazy thing was that it wasn’t even the battery! It was a failed alternator which meant it wasn’t charging on the drive home or to their campsite where they got stranded. It ended well, but it was terrible timing for them and an intense introduction to call-outs for me.

Battery World national product manager Seb Keane keeps his 4WD battery healthy for off-road adventures.

Battery World national product manager Seb Keane keeps his 4WD battery healthy for off-road adventures

What signs to look for when a battery might be on its way out?

1. Ignition - sound and speed

The most common sign your battery is in trouble will be when you start the car.

Often it will sound different, like it’s straining. The starter struggles to turn the motor, and you can hear the difference.

Or the response will be slow and sluggish. You may even need to turn the key several times. Sometimes there will be nothing when you turn the key, and when you try again a minute later, it starts.

2. Dash warning lights

Your car may show a warning light on the dash. Depending on your vehicle, it may be a specific battery light or a more general engine warning light.

But, the warning light is not guaranteed to show. If you suspect your battery is going flat but no lights are glowing, still get your battery checked.

Picture of a bulging battery box – or lead plates with sulphate crystals

Sulphate crystals reduce the life of your battery and may cause the battery to expand and bulge

3. Appearence

Pop the bonnet and have a look at the battery. You may notice it no longer has nice straight sides. It might bulge a little like it’s over-indulged in Christmas dinner.

When a battery goes flat, it starts to sulphate. Sulphation causes crystals to grow on the lead plates. The crystals increase resistance, inhibit performance and seriously decrease battery life. A good analogy is like the build up of rust. Eventually, the sulphate crystal build-up causes the battery case to bulge.

Another visual check is looking for signs of corrosion or leaks on the outside of the battery

What should drivers do if they suspect their battery is on the way out?

Bring their vehicle into Battery World for a battery health check. It’s quick and easy, and best of all, free. Our battery experts will test your current battery and advise if it needs replacing, and it only takes 5-10 minutes. We inspect your battery with specialised equipment to check its health.

If you’re short on time, you can book online or over the phone. But if you’re driving past and have a few moments, pop in. The next available technician will be happy to help.


Warning - don’t forget to do this crucial step for a battery check:

If you’ve had a flat battery, you’ve probably jump started the car to get rolling again. If you want the reassurance of a battery check, it’s vital that you first charge your battery.

Hopping in the car after a jump start and driving straight to a battery check will not give an accurate reading. Ideally, hook your battery up to an approved battery charger overnight and then get it tested.

Help! My battery died, and I’m stuck in the car park. What do I do?

Simply call 13 17 60

Our local battery experts come to you 24 hours, 7 days a week*.

You may need a simple jump start to get you back on your way. Our experienced and equipped team members will troubleshoot your battery problem. And we can replace and fit a new battery if needed, whether stuck in your drive, in a car park, or campground.

Is your battery feeling sluggish, slow or flat?

Avoid the inconvenience, frustration and potential danger of a dead battery. Be aware of the signs and book in for a battery check if you’re concerned.

Book your free battery check to keep you travelling

Free battery check

*Subject to conditions