How Do Car Batteries Work?

Repairing and maintaining the electrical system in your Toyota can be a daunting task for many owners. A good first step in understanding your vehicle's electrical system is to understand the battery. That is why we came up with this guide about the main starter battery in your Toyota.

What Is A Car Battery And How Does It Work?

Toyota car battery

Your car's battery acts as the electrical storage center for your car. The battery stores electricity and ensures your Toyota starts when you turn the key. If your battery begins to fail, your car will have issues starting, running, and driving. 

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What Does A Car Battery Look Like?

Your car's battery looks like a small box around the size of a shoebox. It is typically heavy and protected by a plastic exterior. You can identify the battery thanks to the two metal terminals on top (or sometimes the side) of the battery. These terminals always represent the positive and negative sides of the battery. 

Batteries often will also have dates as to when they were manufactured printed on the label. Most batteries last between 3-5 years depending on their use.

What A Car Battery Does 

Most simply, the battery stores electricity. This electricity is used by the engine and accessories like the blower fan, radio, and headlights.

When you turn the key to start your car, the battery sends electrical signals to the engine. These signals cause the spark plugs to produce sparks at very specific time intervals. This sparking is what ignites the fuel within the cylinders and allows your car to run. Once your engine begins to run, the engine spins the alternator which produces electricity. This electricity is sent to the battery where it is stored until it is needed.

How Long Does A Battery Last?

Toyota car battery life

Image Credit: TheTrackAhead

Modern batteries typically last between 3 and 5 years if they see regular use.

Batteries can fail before the 3-year mark. Sometimes they experience cell failure, where one of the 6 cells fails, leaving your car unable to start. If your battery has failed, is having issues, or is beyond the 5-year mark it is important to replace the battery ASAP. Here are some things that may happen when your battery has failed.

  • Your car takes a long time to start when you turn the key. 
  • The lights on the dashboard flicker when you try to start the car, but the car does not start.
  • Your radio and headlights are not working. 
  • The interior lights do not come on when you open the door to start the car.

When the battery fails, your car will be unable to move under its own power. The best way to maintain a battery is through regular checkups and regularly driving the car to allow the alternator to charge the battery.