Informational Guide

Can A Car Battery Die While Driving?

The short answer is, yes, but what happens next?

It’s a top question among drivers - can a car battery die while driving? The short answer is, yes, it can, but what happens if the car battery dies while driving?

We will answer can your car battery die while you are driving and show you what to do if it happens.

If you are wondering - can my car battery die while driving, the answer is yes. Here are a few reasons why.

Defective alternator

The car alternator charges the car battery while the vehicle is running. If the alternator is dying, the battery won't be able to charge, and it could die while you are driving. Test the car alternator to ensure it is in good working condition.

Extreme temperatures

When the temperatures are extremely hot, the battery can suffer from lead sulfate buildup. This contamination damages the battery life, making it harder to charge, especially if you are only driving short distances.

Parasitic drain

When components continue to run in the vehicle even though you have turned it off, a parasitic drain will wipe out the battery’s charge. These electrical systems could be the radio presets, security alarms, and the clock. Faulty wiring, defective fuses, and a poor installation all lead to parasitic drain.

Faulty charging or old battery

The time it takes to charge a car battery can vary, but a faulty charging system could leave you with one that is completely dead. If there’s a charging issue or there is a loose belt on the alternator, the battery might not charge as it should.

Too many short drives

Because the alternator charges the battery while you are driving, not spending enough time behind the wheel can cause the battery to die. For optimal charging, it’s best to take your vehicle down the highway for at least fifteen minutes once a week.

Corroded or loose battery cables

If the terminals are corroded on the car battery, the connection might be interrupted. This defect leads to a battery that doesn’t get charged. To avoid this, you can clean battery corrosion and check all of the connections to ensure charging works as it should.

Human error

Have you ever come home at the end of the day and forgot to turn off your car lights? It’s not unusual, especially if you are exhausted. Modern cars will alert you when the lights are on or the trunk is open. However, if you don’t have these alerts, you might come out in the morning to a dead car battery.

Thankfully, it’s unlikely that this situation will cause it to fail while you are driving because the vehicle won’t start in the first place.

Old Battery

When the battery becomes too weak to hold a charge, the alternator is of no use. In general, car batteries should be replaced every three to four years and regularly maintained for the best results.

Can A Car Battery Die While Driving

What Happens If A Car Battery Dies While Driving?

What happens if your car battery dies while driving? At first, you might see the battery light pop up on the dashboard. Is it safe to drive my car with the battery light on?

No, this warning is giving you time to pull over, but if you ignore it, the car will die while driving. Instead, take the warning seriously and pull over to a safe location to replace the battery.

What To Do When Your Car Battery Dies While Driving

What happens when your car battery dies while driving? As a smart driver, you will take the following steps to protect yourself.

Guide the car to the side of the road

At the first sign of trouble, you want to look for a safe location on the side of the road. Gently guide your car to this spot to continue through our steps. If you are on the highway, exit as soon as possible. If you need to park at a business or commercial property, make sure you speak with the owner while you wait.

Restart your car

If you have a portable car battery charger with you, it’s worth trying. However, if the battery is completely dead, a charger isn’t going to help. You also want to try the key a few times to ensure it wasn’t just a fluke.

Turn on your emergency flashers

If you are sitting on the side of the road, you want others to see you. Avoid an accident by turning on your emergency flashers. You should also step away from the vehicle if there is a safer place nearby. Don’t stand by the side of the road.

Call for help/roadside support

If you aren’t able to get the car started back up, you need to call someone for help. If there is a loved one nearby that can pick you up, that is great. However, you don’t want to forget about the car. Call roadside assistance to bring a new battery or tow you to the local shop.

What Happens If The Car Battery Dies While Driving

5 Advance Warning Signs That Your Battery Is Failing

Can a car battery die while you are driving? Yes, but most of the time, you will have some advance warning that there is a problem. Most automotive batteries will last around five years, so if it is nearing the end of its life, keep your eyes open for these symptoms.

  • Check engine or battery warning light turns on 
    There are a lot of meanings that go with the Check Engine Light. However, an OBDII scanner can show you what the trouble codes mean. Your car might also have a battery light that comes on if it isn't getting the proper charge.
  • The engine is slow to start 
    The battery is needed to start the car. If it is failing, you might notice that it is taking longer to start. However, a slow-starting vehicle can also mean trouble with the ignition system.
  • Dim lights and electrical issues 
    The battery is responsible for illuminating the lights and running all of the electronics. If it starts losing a charge, you might notice dimmer lights or trouble with your accessories, such as the heated seats, radio or wireless charging.
  • Corroded battery connectors 
    When the battery starts to get old, more corrosion occurs on the terminals. With this white substance in place, it becomes more challenging to charge the battery. You will notice voltage issues as a result.
  • Bad smell 
    When you pop the hood, there should be no unusual smells. However, when the battery is failing, you might smell rotten eggs caused by an internal short or damage to the battery.

When To Replace Your Car Battery

The automotive car battery should last three to five years at a minimum. However, there are signs that indicate you might need to replace the car battery more often.

Check out our complete guide illustrating how often to replace a car battery for more information. By being proactive, you avoid having the battery dying while you are driving.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How much does it cost to replace a car battery?

You are looking at a cost between $100 and $200 for the battery and labor on most vehicles. However, heavy-duty trucks, luxury vehicles, and some European brands might have a higher cost involved.

Does a new car battery need charging?

When you first purchase a car battery, it should be charged at least 90% of the way, which is more than enough to get the vehicle started. However, it doesn’t hurt to drive for a while after installation to ensure a full charge.

How long will a car battery last if the alternator is bad?

It depends on the battery capacity and charge status. You might get anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours out of the battery. If you have a bad alternator, do not shut off the vehicle until you have a replacement, or you might not be able to get it running again.

How far can you drive once the battery light comes on?

It depends on the reason the battery light is on. If the battery is failing, it could quit at any moment. Find a safe place to pull over and troubleshoot the issue where there is no danger.


Can a car battery die when driving? Yes, but it doesn’t have to. If you pay attention to the warning signs, you can replace the battery in a safe location, far from danger.