A smoking hood isn’t unheard of, and in most cases, it’s a result of overheating. Faulty wire casings, heated residues on the engine block, cooling system problems, and overheated liquids are some of the most common culprits.
But did you know that your battery can also emit smoke under certain conditions?
Smoking Car Battery FAQs
Here are some of the frequently asked questions (FAQs) from drivers who want to know more about their car battery and why it could emit smoke.
Why Is My Car Battery Smoking?
A smoking car battery can mean many things. Below are the most common ones.
The Battery Is Overcharged
Using a charger with the wrong amperage and voltage can overcharge the battery. Once this happens, you might notice smoke emitting from the battery, which is its own way of releasing excess pressure.
The battery has an active plate material that can disintegrate or fall out of the supporting grid framework as a result of overcharging.
The battery can also get damaged when charging voltages higher than 15.5 volts are used. This can warp the battery’s plates.
You Have a Bad Alternator
The alternator keeps the battery charged as you drive by using the principle of electromagnetic induction to generate electrical power from mechanical power.
The alternator is designed to produce an electrical pressure higher than the battery voltage to charge the battery.
Issues with the alternator, such as fluid leaks and a tight belt, can overcharge the battery.
The Battery Is Overheating
The battery can also overheat under extreme conditions. Driving under excessively hot temperatures can cause the battery’s electrolytes to evaporate, which can look like smoke coming out the hood.
The Battery Is Short-Circuiting
An internal short-circuit can discharge the battery and produce a high current flow that can cause the battery to heat up and produce smoke. This rarely happens with modern car batteries, but once it does, damages are irreversible, so you might need to buy a new battery.
The Battery Is Actually Dead
A car that’s been sitting for a long time will probably have an old battery as well. In some cases, jump starting an old battery can cause it to smoke, smolder, and leak fumes.
Is a Smoking Car Battery Dangerous?
Yes. Not only is a smoking car battery a fire hazard, but it can have adverse effects on your health, too.
Vented battery gases contain toxic fumes called sulfuric acid. If a person is exposed to this chemical, he or she is at risk of experiencing skin and eye irritation, and respiratory and gastrointestinal problems.
So if you ever find yourself accidentally exposed to a smoking car battery, immediately call for help and seek medical attention.
How to Fix a Smoking Car Battery
Unfortunately, fixing a smoking car battery is nearly impossible. There might be some instances where the battery will work fine after a short period of overheating, but for the most part, you’ll need to buy a new one instead.
How Much Will a New Battery Cost?
A new battery can cost anywhere between $200 and $500, depending on several factors. Some of these include the brand, and your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
A Closer Look at Your Car’s Battery
Having a good idea of how your battery works can help you keep it around for a long time with no issues.
Automotive batteries can last anywhere between three and seven years.
Battery capacity is determined by the amount of active plate material in the battery. If the battery has a lot of thin plates, it can produce high current for a short period of time.
Meanwhile, a few thick plates will make the battery produce low current for a long period of time.
Batteries used in new models usually feature a maintenance-free design. This design features lead-calcium instead of lead-antimony plate grid construction, which consumes less water during battery service.
Compared to lead-calcium, lead-antimony batteries produce less gas, which means the battery terminals, wiring, and support trays won’t corrode as much.
Cleaning the battery terminals is essential to keeping the battery in tip-top shape. In most cases, corroded battery connections lead to electrical faults.
Fortunately, this kind of problem can be resolved at home. Baking soda mixed with water can help neutralize the acid on the connections. From there, you can wash the area regularly with water.
Checking the battery hold-downs is also another maintenance task you shouldn’t skip out on. Make sure that the battery is secured with sturdy brackets to prevent it from moving around as you drive.
Symptoms of a Weak or Defective Battery
It might be time to replace or recharge your vehicle’s battery once the following symptoms are present:
Slow Engine Cranking
Reduced battery capacity won’t be able to supply the necessary current to start the engine.
Excessive Corrosion on Battery Cables or Connections
Too much corrosion on the battery cables or connections could mean that the battery is sulfated. A sulfated battery can release acid fumes and travel through the vent holes, affecting the cables, connections, and tray.
Water in One or More Cells
Water in one or more cells is also a sign that the battery plates are sulfated. This symptom also means that the water in the battery’s electrolyte is being separated into hydrogen and oxygen gases.
Similar to other engine components, the battery can also heat up and emit smoke from under the hood. Excessive heat, overcharging, and an internal short-circuit are some of the most common causes of this problem.
A smoking car battery is both a fire and safety hazard, which is why it’s important to call for help and seek medical attention when exposed to its fumes.
Lastly, a smoking car battery usually means irreversible damage, so might as well get a new one if you ever find yourself dealing with this kind of issue.