Can A Bad Battery Cause AC Problems?

Key points

  • As a car AC draws power to run directly from the battery, the health and quality of the battery has a direct impact on the AC.
  • Bad or damaged batteries have to be changed immediately to protect the health of the electrical components of any system.
  • There are multiple ways to tell if a battery has gone bad or not, or to assess the health of the battery.

One of the crucial parts of a cars electrical system is the battery. It can be compared to the life source of the cars electronics. The AC is one of the major component of a car. It depends greatly on the battery and its capacity to run itself. So, you might wonder, can a bad battery cause AC problem?

The short answer is yes; a bad battery does adversely affect the AC of your car. A bad or discharged battery, cannot properly provide the exact voltage or current required for the AC to start up. Thus it negatively impacts the AC and its longevity and might cause it to malfunction in various ways.

In this article, I will discuss about the various malfunction of an AC that might occur when you have a bad battery, as well as teach you various methods on how to know if you have a bad battery and how to properly assess the health of your battery.

Without further ado, let’s begin.

What are the Effects of a Bad Battery on an AC?

Your automobile air conditioner may perform badly or not at all if your car battery is insufficient. Car batteries must have enough voltage to trigger the AC compressor, and while this voltage may be sufficient to power the rest of your vehicle, it may not be sufficient to power your air conditioning.

So, can a bad battery cause AC problem? Yes. Let’s take a glance at the most common AC issues that are often attributed to a bad battery:

  1. Failure to start up properly.
  2. Loss of air conditioning.
  3. Other electrical equipment failure resulting in an engine failure in the worst case scenario.
  4. The malfunction of the compressor clutch, as well as the evaporator fan.
  5. Lower current supplied to the air conditioner due to the electrical problem.

Your alternator may not produce enough power under certain settings, such as idling, which is especially true if you have a stereo system and high-powered lighting.

Under these circumstances, your battery must compensate for the shortfall, and if the battery is in bad charge, you may experience loss of air conditioning, decreased audio, reduced lights, and eventually engine stalling due to a loss of power.

In typical IC-powered automobiles, the evaporator fan (which circulates air in the cabin) and the compressor clutch both require electrical power. Even though the battery is ‘low,’ the alternator should generate enough electrical current for these operations when the engine is operating.

With the engine running, the AC fan and clutch should work normally unless there is an electrical problem that lowers the current available from the alternator which is most often an issue of a bad battery.

If you are facing any of the problems above, you probably are facing an issue with a bad battery, and have to get a replacement for fixing the problem.

What is a Bad Battery?

A bad battery is a wide term honestly. There are many aspects that indicate that a battery is bad. Such as physical damage, voltage readings, load testing etc. Let’s take a deeper look into these topics.

Inspection of the Battery

Taking a careful look at your battery may sometimes tell you whether it’s bad. There are a few things you should look at. Such as,

Broken or damaged terminals

Swollen battery

Bumps on the casing of the battery

Any type of leakage from the battery

Discoloration of the battery

Short circuits can be deadly if terminals are broken or loose. If there was a short, there would be signs of burning or melting. When a battery short circuits, all of the power is immediately released. This generates a lot of heat and can potentially lead to the battery exploding.

If the battery is still functional but the casing has bulged, it is most likely due to overcharging. Mishandling is also a common source of other indications, such as physical holes in the case.

A battery will not cease operating because of cracks, splits, or holes, but it should be labeled as dangerous to use for safety reasons.

Water levels must be maintained in wet-cell (flooded) batteries. If they’re low, filling them with pure water typically solves the problem.

However, if the battery’s cells have been exposed to air for an extended period of time, it may cause a problem.

When the plates in each cell are exposed to oxygen, the paste that surrounds the lead plates might quickly dry.

When the paste dries, it forms a barrier that keeps the chemical reaction from happening within the battery.

This can also cause any existing sulfation to solidify, resulting in a sulfated battery, which is the major cause of early battery failure.

Taking Voltage Readings

The voltage of a battery is a useful indicator of its charge condition.

If your battery:

  1. Has a voltage reading of zero, there is a probability of a short circuit within the battery.
    1. Cannot reach a voltage higher than 80 percent of its rated voltage, then there is a probability of the battery having a dead cell.
    1. Has been completely charges, yet has a voltage level less than 95% of its intended rated voltage, the battery is sulfated.

Sulfation reduces the battery’s ability to attain full charge and self-discharges it more quickly. It’s like attempting to wash your hands while wearing gloves when you’re charging a sulfated battery.

Charging the battery will not return it to a healthy state at this time. When the original battery reaches this stage, the bulk of new battery purchases are made.

Load Testing the Battery

Your local auto shop can load test your battery, but it’s simple to do at home with only a digital voltmeter. Before doing any load test, the battery must be completely charged and allowed to sit for at least 12 hours.

A newly charged battery will retain a residual charge from the charger, so letting it sit for 12 hours will release that charge and give you a better idea of how the battery will operate in typical conditions.

The steps are simple:

  1. Expose the battery to have access to the connections. Because you’ll be attempting to start the car, don’t unplug the battery.
    1. Place the prongs of your voltmeter on the battery’s proper terminals.
    1. Now press the start button and keep an eye on the voltage as it declines. What you’re looking for is a voltage readout, regardless of whether the car starts or not.

A healthy battery should maintain a voltage range from 80 to 90 percent of its rated voltage under the load for a good 30 seconds straight.

Under the tremendous heat of the load, one or more of the weld pieces connecting the cells comes free and separates, which is a regular occurrence with open cell batteries. The current will be reduced, and the voltage will drop as a result.

When the battery cools down, the fragments will come together and form a tenuous connection. This results in an erroneous voltage measurement.

Open-cell batteries may appear completely charged when idle, but they always fail a load test.

There is no turning back once a battery reaches this point. The greatest option is to recycle the item.

Final Words

After reading the article, I believe that now you know how can a bad battery cause AC problem as well as figure out if you have a bad battery or not.

In order for your AC and other electrical components of your car running smoothly, you must have a battery with a good health and proper specification. It also contributes to the longevity and equipment functionality in the long run.

I believe this article will be of help to you in order to figure out your AC problems regarding battery issues.

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