Car Battery red light indicator

What exactly does the battery light on the dashboard mean?

Very first answer on this topic – The lights in a car often come on when you start it to show they are working. If the lights go off quickly, there is no issue with your car.

All cars today have an electrical system that uses a 12-volt battery to supply power when you drive around. The battery is charged by the alternator when you are driving.

It’s when this system is not working correctly that the red battery light on your dashboard will light up to alert you to the problem.

You will recognize the light as it will always come on when you switch on the ignition of the car and will go off when you have started the car. This indicator light will come on when your battery is not being charged by the alternator correctly or when there is a problem with your battery.

So in summary 5 things that could cause the problem:

  1. Car battery health (check indicator on battery);
  2. Car battery connectors (check if it’s not loose or in corrosion);
  3. Car Alternator (to check you need to have a multimeter);
  4. Alternator Belt (check if it’s not loose);
  5. Alternator connecting cables (check if it’s not broken).

What to do when the Battery light come on?

The first thing to do when the light comes on is to find a safe place to stop on the side of the road, if possible, try to stop at a filling station where you get assistance. It’s also advisable to switch off all electrical devices like the radio or air conditioning to save as much of the battery power as possible. If at all possible, try to keep the engine running as you might not be able to start it up again once you switch it off.

In most cases, the problem is simple to solve. Often the cause of the warning light is either a broken alternator belt or a loose battery terminal cable. These are quick and easy to fix on the side of the road, and you can be on your way again.

However, if the voltage regulator or the alternator itself fails, then you need professional assistance. These components need proper testing and repair if they are not operating correctly. The battery light is the only warning indicator for the electrical charging system of your car and should never be ignored.

As mentioned, the most common causes for the warning light are worn belts or cables as well as a battery with a dead cell. These are relatively easy to check and repair, even if it is a roadside-quick-fix. A worn alternator belt could easily be replaced on the roadside or could also be temporarily fixed with a pair of ladies’ stockings! Terminal cables can come to lose if they are not properly secured and can be easily re-tightened with the emergency toolkit in the car. However, if its car alternator failing, you will need roadside assistance.

The best response to Battery indicator light

  • Find a place to stop;
  • Look at your gauges;
  • Reduce the power you are using;
  • Keep your engine running;
  • Check the battery cables;
  • Examine your alternator belt;
  • Restart your car after at least five minutes;
  • Call to mobile auto-electrician.

Firstly, you should find a safe place to stop and check what the problem is. If it’s a quick fix, then you can get the repair done and be back on the road in just a couple of minutes. However, if it’s a more severe problem, then its best to get the car to an auto-electrician to get it repaired. It is advisable to get the car checked out in any event even if it was easily fixed; the electrical system is a crucial system in your vehicle regardless of age without which your vehicle will not be roadworthy or safe to use.

Things to remember

The older your car is, the more likely it is that you could experience problems with it. So, if you have a replacement alternator belt and a decent emergency toolkit in the car, then you should be fine in most cases. In the event that you have an emergency, it’s always advisable to only stop where it is safe to do so, preferably a filling station or at least out of the traffic on the side of the road. Switch off all non-essential electricals, such as the radio and air conditioning, and always keep the car running unless it’s overheating. This way you can carry on driving if needed and get to a service station or auto electrician.