Many drivers have experienced the misfortune of getting into their vehicles only to realize their engines won’t turn over. Although there may be plenty of reasons why a car will not start, quite frequently a dead battery is to blame.

Car batteries can last for five years or more when properly cared for, but many batteries wear down and become inefficient within three years of daily use. Naturally, drivers who are stranded by dead batteries wish they had done more to prevent their battery dying while they’re on the road. Certain factors might offer clues as to how much life vehicle batteries have left.

Longer start time: A dying battery may cause the engine to crank, but it can be slow to start or not seem to exude a lot of power. 

Cranks but doesn’t start: You may turn the key to hear the engine trying to turn over, but it won’t. Even if the vehicle eventually starts, have the battery checked and, if necessary, replaced by a mechanic.

A jump start has been necessary: Batteries that have required a jump or multiple jumps are on their last legs and should be replaced immediately. 

Dim lights or check engine indicator: Batteries powers the electric components in a vehicle, so dim lights could be indicative of a loss of power. Having the “check engine” light come on also can be a clue.

Extreme temperatures: According to Firestone, hot or cold temperatures can shorten a battery’s life. If you live in an extreme climate, your battery may not last as long as the manufacturer suggests it should.

Short driving trips: People who take many short trips (less than 20 minutes each) may find their batteries do not have enough time to fully recharge, shortening their life expectancy.

Pungent aroma: Leaking and corrosion around the battery terminals can cause battery issues. If there is a rotten egg smell under the hood, it may be a leaking battery on its way to dying.

Drivers can have their vehicle batteries tested by mechanics. Batteries can be replaced at home or at a garage. Servicing the vehicle frequently can prevent performance inefficiencies and help determine if any components are straining the battery and causing premature loss of battery life.