Is my car battery dead or discharged?

Is my car battery dead or discharged?

In starting your car, the battery plays a pivotal role. 

It acts as the power source that brings your halted, lifeless car to life. Once the car is started, you simply press the accelerator and race towards your destination.

This is your daily routine: You step inside your car, turn on the engine, drive happily, and turn off the engine when your journey ends. The cycle repeats countless times throughout the lifespan of your car. Your car starts quickly when you have a fully charged, active battery.

But what if you repeatedly push the start button and your car doesn’t start?

Like any other car owner, you’d be surprised and clueless at first, trying to figure out the issue. You might have no idea why your car is behaving like this unless you have some knowledge about car maintenance or understand car battery issues. 

When you turn the key and your car doesn’t start, the prime suspect is usually the battery.

However, when it comes to battery issues, there are only two possibilities: Your car battery is either dead or discharged, no third option here. 

As a car owner, it’s critical to understand the difference between dead or discharged car battery. Understanding this can save you time, money, and a lot of frustration. But how do you discern if you’ve a dead or discharged car battery? 

Let us help you figure this out. 

In this blog, we’ll help you to discern if you’ve a dead or discharged car battery, the causes behind each, and what you can do to fix or prevent these issues.

Signs of a Discharged Battery

A discharged battery is low on charge, much like your phone when it’s low on battery. Recharging the battery or going for a long drive can solve this problem, so there’s nothing to worry about. Recharging your battery is quick and less expensive compared to replacing it. Just pluck the charger & your battery is charged.

Common signs of a discharged battery:

  1. Slow engine crank 
  2. Interior or exterior lights are dim
  3. Headlights are dim
  4. Sputtering sounds indicating insufficient power 
  5. Dashboard warning 
  6. Ac not working 
  7. Radio not working 
  8. Your car needs a jumpstart 

Remember, a discharged battery is still capable and useful; it doesn’t need to be replaced. It simply needs a quick recharge because it’s low on power. The above 8 common signs will help you differentiate between a dead or discharged car battery. However, avoid leaving the lights or radio on for extended periods without the engine running. 

Signs of a Dead Battery

A dead battery loses its charge permanently. Therefore, it cannot be recharged or used again. It’s dead and needs to be replaced immediately.

Some common signs of a dead battery are:

  1. The battery may have reached the end of its lifespan. Car batteries typically last 3-5 years. If yours is older, it may be dead
  2. It no longer holds the charge or deliver power 
  3. When you turn the key nothing happens 
  4. The car won’t start until you replace the battery
  5. No sound
  6. No lights 
  7. No radio 
  8. Swollen or bloated battery due to heat 
  9. Excessive corrosion around battery terminals 
  10. Cracked battery


Your car will show warning signs before the battery completely dies. One common sign is that your car takes time to start or won’t start in the morning but works fine after a few hours in the day. This happens to an aging battery under extreme temperature changes. Aging battery drains too quickly overnight & troubles you in the morning. So spot signs and no the difference between a dead or discharged car battery.

Tip – It’s a good idea to have your battery and the car’s electrical system checked by a professional.

Diagnosing the Issue

Following tests will help you to discern if you’ve a dead or discharged car battery. Understanding the distinction is crucial for appropriate action.

Voltage Test

This is a simple test and requires a multimeter. A multimeter is a tool for diagnosing battery issues & helps you in measuring the battery’s voltage. That’s the reason it’s called the voltage test. Set the multimeter, connect the probes & note down the reading. The below table will help you with the results and the status of your battery:


Voltage ReadingBattery Status
12.6 volts or higherHealthy & fully charged
12.4 to 12.6 voltsModerately charged
12.2 to 12.4 voltsDischarged
12 volts or lowerDead or severely discharged

Jump Start Test

First, let’s understand what jumpstarting a car means. 

You jumpstart your car when the battery is dead or discharged. It involves using an external power source, typically another vehicle’s battery, to provide the necessary power to start your car

If your battery is severely discharged or nearly dead, jumpstarting your car will work temporarily. Your car will start & run until you turn off your engine. However, once the engine is turned off, the car fails to start again. While running, the discharged battery holds the charge due to the functional alternator. The battery loses the charge once the engine is off, possibly because it’s dead or is severely discharged.

Battery Age

An average lifespan of a car battery is 3 to 5 years. Once it reaches this age, it becomes older enough to be replaced before you experience battery issues and failures. If your car battery is this old, it may be nearing its end or already dead. Check your battery’s age to know if you’ve a dead or discharged car battery.

Load Test

You’ll need a load tester to perform this test. 

A load test is the test of a battery’s ability to hold a charge under a certain load. Attach the load tester to a fully charged battery & apply the Load. A good battery will hold above 9.6 volts under load. Below this, the battery is likely dead or dying.

What to Do Next

Seeking professional help is recommended. Only an expert mechanic can properly diagnose, charge, or replace your dead or discharged car battery. They can also identify any underlying electrical issues or other sources that may be draining the battery.

Wrap Up - Is My Car Battery Dead or Discharged?

Understanding battery issues is critical for every car owner in Dubai. Knowing the difference between dead and discharged car battery can save you a lot of time and money. A discharged battery can be charged, whereas a dead battery needs replacement. You can diagnose the issue by performing the voltage test, load test, jumpstart test, battery age test. 

Common signs of a discharged battery include slow engine crank, dim lights

sputtering sounds, dashboard warning, ac not working, radio not working, your car needs a jumpstart etc. On the other hand signs of a dead battery include old batteries, no longer holds the charge or deliver power, when you turn the key nothing happens, the car won’t start until you replace the battery, no sound, no lights, no radio, swollen or bloated battery due to heat, excessive corrosion around battery terminals, cracked battery etc.

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