The little battery ( charge malfunction light ) should come on and go out fairly quickly as your engine revs at start up. The process is a bulb check to be sure the malfunction light operates. What does it really mean when the light does come on and stays on. Rarely does it come on and NOT mean there is a problem with your charge system ( battery, alternator, voltage regulator, wiring, and engine control module ). When this light failure indicator has occurred – imminent break down is on its way. Without electric your car will shut down.
If your traveling, about all you can do is turn every device in your car off – heater fan, air condition, radio, etc. Remember, without electric – no fuel pump, no spark to fire the gasoline, no computer control, etc. Again shut everything off to conserve the electricity left in your battery. Obviously get to a repair facility to have the system tested and repaired.
A couple of things we have noticed over the years: 1. A car may start at home just fine, with maybe a little hesitation when trying to start, you go to the local store and wham !! nothing, no starter noise or even a click sound. The battery may have shorted out and died on the spot. The little hesitation may be the only warning you have before battery failure. In this case, the charge failure light probably never came on. 2. When driving a car with low electrical supply, strange things may happen, flickering lights, door locks activating by themselves, loss of engine power, etc. Most of the time the charge failure indicator will be on. Don’t wait to have these problems tested, there is an issue needing immediate attention.
One more word of caution. Replacing the battery yourself may not be a good idea. The newer the car, the more likely you could cause an expensive issue to repair. To be on the safe side, have a professional replace your battery and test the system.
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