8 Causes Of Dead Cells In A Car Battery (& What To Do)

If you think that you have a dead cell in your car battery, then you’ve found the right article! In this article, not only will you find out what a dead cell is, but you’ll also learn what causes, what the symptoms are, and how to fix it in the future, as well as other frequently asked questions!

So keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

What Is A Dead Cell In A Car Battery?

A dead cell In A car battery is a battery cell that has stopped functioning and will no longer hold a charge. Dead cells are the most common cause of car battery failure, and they can occur for a variety of reasons.

What Causes A Dead Cell In Car Batteries?

There are a whole bunch of reasons you may end up with a dead cell in your car’s battery. With that being said, these are the different causes you should be cautious off!

Using The Wrong Water

Dead cells in car batteries can be caused when the wrong type of water is used. It’s important to use distilled water for refilling, as regular tap water contains minerals and other impurities which can corrode the inside of the battery.

Intense Vibration From The Car

The plates inside your battery are never supposed to touch; however, if you’re dealing with intense vibrations in your car’s engine, it can cause the plates to come together, damaging the cells and eventually creating a dead cell in your car battery.

Collision

A collision can cause the cells to become damaged. The impact from a collision can break or bend the plates in the battery, causing them to come together and ruin the cell. If you’ve recently been in an accident with your car, this may be a reason for a dead cell in your battery.

Corrosion

One of the most common causes of a dead cell in car batteries is corrosion. When the battery terminals are exposed to moisture, it can cause corrosion on the positive and negative posts of the battery, reducing its ability to hold a charge.

Sulfation

Another common cause is sulfation, which occurs when sulfur accumulates on the lead plates inside the battery. This buildup of sulfur prevents the battery from charging properly, reducing its ability to hold a charge.

Extreme Temperatures

Extreme temperatures can also cause a dead cell in car batteries. In cold weather, batteries struggle to maintain a charge as the chemical reaction inside them slows down due to the cold, while extreme heat can cause evaporation of the electrolyte. Both of these can lead to a dead cell in the battery.

Age

Of course, age is another factor that can lead to a dead cell in car batteries. Over time, the chemicals inside the battery break down, leading to reduced capacity and, eventually, a dead cell. That’s why it is important to replace your car battery every few years if you want to ensure it is running properly.

Improper Charging

Finally, improper charging can cause a dead cell in car batteries. If the battery is not charged correctly, or if it is overcharged, this can lead to reduced capacity and a dead cell. That’s why it is important to make sure your car battery is charged properly and not left in a discharged state for too long.

An auto mechanic uses a multimeter voltmeter to check the voltage level in a car battery.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Dead Cell In Car Batteries?

Now you know what causes dead cells in your car battery, here are all the symptoms to look out for to know what you’re dealing with!

The Car Struggles To Turn Over

One of the most obvious signs that you have a dead cell in your car battery is that the engine struggles to turn over. This can be due to a lack of power, as the dead cell in your car’s battery is not providing enough current for the engine to run.

The Headlights Are Dim

Another symptom is dim headlights. Dead cells in a car battery can reduce the amount of power that is available to run your car, causing your lights to be dimmer than usual.

The Dashboard Lights Are Dim

The same is true for your dashboard lights. Dead cells in a car battery can cause the lights on your dashboard to be dim and flicker, as they are not receiving enough power from the battery.

The Car Battery May Die Quickly

If a dead cell in your car battery is not addressed quickly, it can cause the entire battery to die. Dead cells can prevent the battery from receiving a full charge and thus reduce its overall lifespan.

The Car Doesn’t Start Unless You Push The Gas Pedal

If your car needs to be pushed or jumped just to get it started, this could indicate that there is a dead cell in the battery and the engine is not receiving enough current to start on its own.

The Battery Is Old

Finally, an old battery may also indicate that you have a dead cell. Over time, all batteries will start to degrade and lose their capacity, leading to a dead cell in the battery.

The Voltage Is Lower Than 12.4V

If you measure the voltage of your car battery and it is lower than 12.4V, this could indicate that there is a dead cell in the battery. Dead cells can prevent the battery from reaching its full potential, leading to a lower voltage output.

How Do You Test For A Bad Cell In A Battery

With everything you know about dead cells in your car battery, then you may be wondering how exactly you can spot when you’re dealing with it! Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to find out!

Check The Voltage Reading

The main way to test to see if your battery has a bad cell is to see if the voltage reading is correct. You can do this with a voltmeter or by measuring the voltage at the battery terminals. A healthy battery should show a voltage of 12.4V or higher, while one with a dead cell will be lower.

Conduct A Load Test

You can also conduct a load test to check for bad cells in your car battery. This involves applying a load to the battery and checking the voltage as it drops. If a bad cell is present, the voltage will drop faster than normal.

Check The Battery Chemistry

Finally, you can check the battery chemistry to see if any cells are dead. You should be able to get an indication of this by testing the specific gravity of each cell in the battery. Dead cells will have lower specific gravity than healthy ones.

If you notice anything below 1.26 then it’s a sign that some of your battery cells have gone bad.

A Physical Inspection

In addition to the tests mentioned above, you can also physically inspect your car battery for any signs of damage or corrosion. Dead cells can cause physical damage to a car battery, so make sure you look carefully.

How Do You Fix A Dead Cell In Car Batteries

  1. Make sure you’re wearing protective gear to ensure you’re not at risk of coming into contact with battery acid.
  2. Once you’ve got your gear on, you should hear up some distilled water. And add Epsom salt. You should use 1 liter of water for 225 grams of Epsom salt.
  3. Remove any corrosion you find on the battery with a paste made from baking soda and water.
  4. Use a screwdriver to remove the top of the water, so you can see which cells need topping up.
  5. Now that everything has been prepared, you should begin filling the battery cells with the Epsom salt/distilled water mixture you made earlier.

Of course, sometimes, you may end up performing these steps too late. When this is the case, you should simply replace the battery as soon as possible or take it to a mechanic.

FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions that people have about a dead cell in their car battery!

Can A Battery With A Dead Cell Be Charged?

While a battery with a dead or bad cell can be charged, it’s not going to be nearly as effective as a healthy battery. In fact, leaving the dead cells can cause damage to other areas of the battery as well!

Will Dead Cells In A Battery Cause Damage?

Yes, dead cells in a battery can cause damage over time. Dead cells can lead to corrosion, and eventually, the battery can become unusable if left unchecked.

Can Dead Cells Be Fixed?

In some cases, a dead cell in a car battery can be fixed with a mixture of Epsom salt and distilled water. However, if the damage has already been done it’s best to replace the entire battery rather than try to fix it.

Is It A Dead Battery Cell Or Alternator?

If your battery is showing a voltage reading lower than 12.4V, it’s likely that you have a dead cell in the battery. However, if the voltage is higher, then it could be an issue with the alternator.

How Long Can A Car Battery Last With A Dead Cell?

If the cells in your battery are damaged, then you can’t expect the battery to last more than a month or two before it eventually succumbs.

It’s also important to make sure you’re remedying the issue as soon as possible, as it may also end up causing problems in other areas of your car as well!

Recap

Dead cells in a car battery can be identified by testing the voltage, conducting a load test, and checking the battery chemistry. Dead cells can lead to corrosion and other damage if left unchecked.

Dead cells can sometimes be fixed with an Epsom salt/distilled water mixture; however, it’s best to replace the entire battery if the damage has already been done.

If the voltage is lower than 12.4V then it’s likely you have a dead cell; however, if it’s higher, then it could be an issue with the alternator.

Dead cells should be dealt with as soon as possible, as they can cause more damage over time and reduce the lifespan of your battery significantly.

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