The battery discharge warning means that your car’s battery is getting discharged more than it is getting charged, indicating that your car might run into electrical problems soon.
This warning will be displayed on either screen of your car, the infotainment, or the information cluster.
Battery discharge can have severe repercussions, whereas it can also be a symptom of something serious.
Some cars come with a Battery Saver Active function, which will put the vehicle in battery saver mode. This will turn off non-essential electrical accesories to preserve the battery.
Most of the time, a battery discharge warning will come up when the engine is off, and your car is still draining energy. However, sometimes, you might get this warning message while driving, indicating a more severe problem.
What Could Cause Battery Discharge When the Engine is Off?
Your battery is at risk of getting discharged when the engine is shut off. This is the time when the alternator is not charging the battery. So, everything is solely running on the battery. Let us see what actions can cause the battery to discharge when your engine is turned off.
- Listening to Radio
When the car is parked, it is very common that we turn on the ignition switch and start listening to the radio. Mind you, that radio is an electrical device that draws power from the battery. Listening to the radio while the engine is off will cause your battery to drain.
- Loose Terminals
Loose terminals are a battery killer. These terminals can result in loss of charge even when the car is not running. You should watch out for loose terminals if you want to avoid the inconvenience of your battery getting discharged.
- Extreme Weather
Sometimes the battery discharge isn’t in your control. Extreme weather is an act of nature. When it is too hot or too cold, it can harm the charging of the car’s battery. Ideally, you should park your vehicle in a garage during the winter to prevent battery discharge from happening.
- Old Battery
An old battery is another cause of unusual battery discharge. The cells cycle of an aging battery is almost nearing the end. It can get discharged sooner than usual. As soon as you park the car, the battery will lose its charge.
- Chargers Left Plugged In
Features in cars are helping us, but they are also hurting us in some places. Charging ports are supplied in most modern cars. If you accidentally leave your mobile plugged in for charging while the engine is off, it will drain the battery, and eventually, the car will warn you.
- Parasitic Drain
A parasitic drain is another possibility that could drain your battery. All things ranging from windscreen wipers, power windows, electronic steering, to power & heated seats are operated using electric current. So, a malfunction in any component can draw excessive current from the battery. This parasitic loss can lead to a more significant battery discharge.
- Head Lights Left On
Many cars give a warning beep if you left the headlights on while leaving the car. Nobody can blame someone after a long workday if they forget to turn off the headlights. Headlights are the highest power-draining component in a car’s electrical system so that they can discharge the battery very soon.
- Climate Control Left On
Climate control is another system that draws power from the battery even when the engine is not running. The thing with climate control is that it is a necessity; you have to turn it on. But keeping it on for too long can discharge the battery rather quickly.
What Could Cause Battery Discharge When the Car is Running?
Ideally, your battery should not be discharged while the car is running. But sometimes this can happen too. Let’s see that what are the different scenarios where you could get a battery discharge warning while driving.
- Poor Ground Connection
Ground connections play an important role in protecting the car against potential fires due to a short circuit. But a poor ground connection can cause your battery to discharge. The current flowing into the ground instead of charging the battery can be the reason.
- Short Drives
Driving the car charges the battery; it is true. But short drives do the opposite of that. They don’t give enough time for your car’s battery to get charged. And if you use stereo or charging ports on this short drive, then it is most likely you will end up with a discharged battery.
- Faulty Charging System
The car’s charging system consists of several components such as starter motors, alternators, and sensors. When any of these components aren’t working correctly, your battery will be discharged sooner than expected.
- Corroded Battery Terminals
The physical condition of the battery is also important. If battery terminals are corroded or have a white deposit on their surface, then it won’t allow the battery to charge. Even when the car is running, the battery will not receive any charge.
- Worn-out Serpentine Belt
A worn-out serpentine belt reveals itself in the form of a drained battery. It is mainly responsible for providing power to the alternator, which then makes the current. If power is lost in slippage, the battery isn’t charged correctly.
- Weak Battery
A weak battery would not charge anyways. No matter how much you drive, even if the alternator and serpentine belt are working correctly, it would ultimately get drained.
- Bad Alternator
An alternator is the main component of a car’s charging system. If its life has ended, it won’t function correctly. An alternator goes out after 80,000 miles and stops charging the battery.
How Do You Fix a Battery Discharge?
If your car battery is losing its charge, you can do a few things. By following the below guide, you can attempt to fix a battery discharge.
- Check Electrolyte
The first and foremost step is to check the electrolyte levels. How many times it has happened that you didn’t check electrolyte levels in the battery for months. It gets drained, and your car won’t start. The cause being there is no electrolyte in the battery to supply current across terminals.
Jumpstart is the oldest technique to put some life into a discharged battery. Take jump wires and connect your battery to a good battery. If you are lucky enough, the car will start, and once it starts, the alternator will recharge it again.
3. Get it Recharged
If nothing is working, then try to charge the battery externally. Multiple external DC chargers are available in the market. Or you can visit a battery shop where they will charge it for $10-20.
4. Replace the Battery
This is the last resort if nothing is working. You checked electrolyte; you tried to jumpstart it and tried charging it. The car starts, but the battery is drained as soon as you turn off the engine. Then it’s time to get a new battery.
When is time to replace the battery, your Battery Warning light will come on as well, indicating there is a problem with your electrical system.
This will cost you between $45 to $250, depending on the make and model of your car.
What car models have this common problem?
Kia models are well known for getting the battery discharge warning message when using the radio or other electronic devices while stationary. While this is a good thing, the message can get annoying as there is no way to turn it off.
Another popular car make that have this common problem is Hyundai. As reported on Hyundai Forums by multiple owners, most Hyundai models will alert you as soon as your engine is OFF and the AC is running or listening to radio.
Other popular automakers that have this issue include BMW, Ford, Honda and Toyota.