Ask Your Mechanic About Batteries


featuring Chris Martin, ASE Certified Master Tech of Saco, ME VIP Tires & Service

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Don’t leave yourself stranded! According to AAA, dead car batteries are one of the top reasons  for roadside assistance calls. In many cases, this is something that can be prevented – with consumer knowledge and a little preventative maintenance.  To get some professional advice, we chatted with ASE Certified Master Tech, Chris Martin of VIP Tires & Service in Saco, Maine.


“Knowledge is power,” he says stating that most people, especially those driving used cars, have no idea how old their battery is. While it’s probably the most recognizable thing under the hood, it’s often neglected until it stops working – leaving drivers stranded. To get things started, we asked Chris a few basic questions about battery life:

What’s the average lifespan of a vehicle’s battery? Typically, about 5 years.

What’s more draining on a battery – hot or cold weather? HOT weather for sure puts more drain on a battery.

Are there any makes/models of vehicles that have more issues than others? Or any specific brands of batteries that last longer than others? Nope – there are too many variables to take into account.


When a vehicle’s battery dies, it is almost always at the most inconvenient time – that’s just Murphy’s Law.  But there are actually a few signs that your battery is going to give you trouble before it totally lets you down. These signs include:

·    The battery light appearing on your dash

·    A strange smell coming from under the hood – like rotten eggs

·    The engine taking time to turn over, or not at all

·    Frequent need for a battery jump

·    Dashboard lights don’t turn on


If you’re seeing any of these signs, it could be a dying battery – but it could also be an easy fix (jump start) resulting from an “oops” moment such as:

·    Leaving headlights or interior lights on

·    Dirty or corroded battery terminal

·    Left sitting too long without starting

·    Low on water


Less commonly, there are other issues that can mimic the signs of a bad battery. If you replace your battery and the problems don’t resolve, further investigation will need to be done to locate the bigger issue. It may turn out to be something like a faulty alternator or an electrical drain, like a cigarette lighter that is pulling off the battery even when the car is off.

Chris does have some good news to offer if you think your vehicle’s battery is on the fritz, or of you just want to have a better idea of its potential lifespan. Stop by your local VIP and a Master Tech can provide a free battery test and let you know if there is anything to concern yourself with. “Remember,” Chris says, “knowledge is power!”


The cost of a battery varies, based on quality – typically ranging between $100 and $150. Chris reminds us that, “If you buy the battery at VIP, your Master Tech will install it for free and it should only take about ten minutes to get you back on the road.”

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