Shop Parts keyboard_double_arrow_right
Need car parts? Select your vehicle
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The average lifespan of car batteries is around three to five years, but they can deteriorate much faster than that, causing your vehicle to crank slowly or refuse to start completely.

A battery is like an electrical gas tank that holds cold cranking amps. It comes new with a full capacity but diminishes over time to the point that it has too few cold cranking amps to spin the starter and operate the fuel system at the same time.

When a battery fails, the obvious solution is to replace it, but it isn’t always that simple. Sometimes, replacing your car battery can cause more problems.

image of an automotive battery
 Make sure the battery you bought has the negative and positive terminals on the proper ends of the battery (see illustration). Note that just because the battery looks the same in every other way doesn’t mean it’s the right one for your vehicle. Always compare the terminal placement on the old battery with the new one just to make sure. Simply turning the battery around won’t work if the terminals won’t reach and that is sometimes the case. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Common Electrical Issues With Cars After Battery Replacement

Here are some examples of common electrical issues that might occur after replacing your car battery:

Car Refuses To Start

One of the most common issues that can pop up after a battery replacement is your car refusing to start. In most cases, this usually happens due to improper installation. Turn off your ignition, and check the terminals and wires to make sure everything’s in order.

Burning Smell

When it comes to cars, a burning smell is never a good sign. As soon as you catch a whiff of anything burning, it’s a good idea to locate the source as soon as possible.

Think back to when you replaced your car battery. Did you see any sparks after connecting the terminals? Reversed polarity can cause the fuses to blow, damage the alternator, or burn the wiring.

Illuminated Check Engine Light

A number of issues can trigger your check engine light, including replacing your car battery. Sometimes, if your vehicle’s computer systems are shut off for too long, they can cause your check engine light and other malfunction indicator lights to turn on.

Engine Won’t Idle

The idle air control function of the engine control computer has an adaptive learning element so that as the throttle body and its air passages become somewhat clogged by oil steam from the PCV system, the system applies more idle air or throttle to meet the idle target. 

When the battery is disconnected, the idle air adaptive learning is lost and returns to the initial programming. In some cases, the vehicle may idle too low or not at all after battery replacement. Again, this doesn’t happen on every vehicle, but it does seem to be more of a problem on ‘90s and early 2000s Dodge pickups.

Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to clean the throttle body when replacing the battery, but even if the cleaning isn’t done, the IAC adaptive strategy will relearn the necessary numbers to get the vehicle to idle again. 

In some cases, if the engine has been running with a stuck open thermostat so that extended cold enrichment operation has contaminated the engine oil with fuel mist blowby from the cylinder, and then the oil is changed but the battery isn’t disconnected, rough idle and stalling may be an issue.

Electronics Operate Erratically

Are your power windows suddenly operating erratically after replacing your car’s battery? Replacing your vehicle’s battery typically resets the body control module (BCM), which won’t restart on its own.

In order for your power windows, memory seats, and other power accessories to start working like normal again, you first have to reprogram your BCM manually using a factory scan tool.

, Common Problems After Replacing Car Battery and How To Troubleshoot Them

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: On mid-2000s Toyota Avalons, the sun roof might stop working until you’ve gone through the procedure of reprogramming all the window motors. You can do this without a scan tool and the procedure is typically available online.

Alarm System Goes Off

Some vehicles have an alarm system that goes off when disconnecting and reconnecting the battery. You can typically disarm the alarm using your car keys, so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Battery Drains Quickly

One of the most common reasons why people replace their old batteries is because they start to drain faster than usual. Unfortunately, a new car battery won’t always resolve this issue, as a defective alternator, corroded battery terminals, and parasitic drain can all cause your new battery to drain faster than it should.

Troubleshooting Your Car’s Electrical Problems

Wondering what to do after replacing your car battery? Here are some ways you can troubleshoot your car’s electrical problems:

Check Your Battery

Does your new battery have sufficient voltage? If it isn’t fully charged, it can prevent your vehicle from starting and cause other electrical issues. Conduct a battery test using a multimeter, which should read 12.6 volts for a fully charged battery.

Inspect the Fuses and Relays

How are your fuses and relays looking? Is the positive cable connected to the positive terminal and the negative cable connected to the negative terminal? Accidentally switching the cables is a recipe for disaster, such as a damaged alternator or burnt wiring.

Check for Diagnostic Trouble Codes

If your check engine light is on, you can use a scan tool to read for diagnostic trouble codes (DTC). This should help you figure out if it’s really your battery triggering your check engine light or not.

Check for a Draw

If you think your new battery is draining faster than usual, you can try checking for a draw. Turn off all your car’s electronic systems, and then set up your multimeter.

It’s normal for most cars to experience some draw even with all their electronics turned off, but a reading above 100 milliamps isn’t a good sign.

Safety Tips When Replacing Your Car Battery

Nobody likes dealing with electrical problems after replacing their car battery, which is why it’s always a good idea to be extra careful. Here are some tips on how you can safely replace your car battery:

  • Have your car keys with you in case your alarm goes off.
  • Use a memory saver to stop your car from erasing your current settings. Note that memory savers that plug into the cigar lighter or power point will only work if these are alive with the key off and sometimes they won’t prevent setting loss even then.
  • Carefully connect a separate battery or jumper box to engine ground and the alternator charge post if you can access it to maintain power to the electronics.
  • Check and double-check that you’re connecting the right cable to the correct terminal.
  • Make sure your new battery is compatible with your car’s year, make, and model.
  • Secure your new battery with the battery hold-down, base clamp, or brace.

If you’re planning to replace your car battery yourself, be sure to wear insulated gloves and safety goggles. Batteries can explode and you can never be too safe.

Where to Get High-Quality Car Batteries

Now that you’re aware of the potential problems that could arise when installing a new battery, it’s time to look for a compatible one for your vehicle. Luckily, CarParts.com has an extensive selection of batteries at varying price points.

Shopping for compatible car batteries is made easier thanks to our user-friendly website. Everything is one click away, and you can even browse our catalog from your mobile devices.

Use our vehicle selector to check which products are compatible with your vehicle. Simply select your car’s year, make, and model from the tool to check out which batteries you can choose from.

If you have more questions before completing your order, you can give us a call. Our team is available 24/7 to answer your queries via our toll-free hotline.

Shop our best deals, and get your new battery in as little as two business days.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Ignition System , DIY Tagged With :
NTMS Scientist
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

View all Questions & Answers

expand_more
CarParts.com Answers BE PART OF OUR COMMUNITY: Share your knowledge & help fellow drivers Join Now