How To Tell If Your Car Battery Is Leaking (2020)

Updated October, 2020
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If you suspect your car battery is leaking, take it to a mechanic right away. This is a dangerous defect that you need to take seriously. You may notice the battery looks bloated, there's a visible crack leaking acid, or a smell similar to rotten eggs. Prepare to pay, on average, $50-$120 for a replacement battery.

Why do car batteries leak acid?

Car batteries may leak for several reasons. Below are some common reasons to check for:

  • It's old. You should replace your battery every 3-5 years. The longer a car battery is in use, the more unreliable and prone to leakages they become. For this reason, they should be checked at frequent intervals.
  • It's been damaged. Your alternator could cause damage to your battery. Your alternator is a regulator that controls how much power is being sent to your battery. If it's malfunctioning and sending too much power, the acid in your battery may boil and overflow.
  • Overcharging your battery. Constant overcharging, such as receiving a jump often, effects your battery's cells. Over time, the battery's cells begin to leak.
  • Extreme weather. Extreme cold may freeze the acid in the battery causing the case to be put under pressure and crack. Extreme heat may cause the plates to expand and push out the liquid.
  • Extreme driving conditions. Living someplace with a bumpy road may cause damage to your battery over time. This because the constant jumbling may cause leaks, a loose battery, or a crack in the battery casing.
  • Incorrect storage. If you plan to store your battery, make sure it's fully charged first. Then store it someplace dry and cool. If your battery overheats, it could bloat and cause cracks/leaks.

Do car batteries leak any other fluids?

Yes, your car battery may be leaking water. Car batteries contain a solution of water and acid. This may happen if:

  • Your vehicle and battery are under icy conditions. This may cause the mixture of acid and water to separate.
  • If you overfill your battery with distilled water, this may also cause leakage.

These are the situations in which water may be leaking out, as batteries typically leak acid. Acid is a dangerous substance you should avoid contact with.

What do I do with a leaking battery?

If you have a leaking battery, you should have your mechanic look at it right away. In most cases, you should replace the battery for a new one. A leaking battery is very dangerous and the risk plus labor involved with trying to repair the battery usually isn't worth it.

Due to how dangerous the leaking acid is from the battery, let your mechanic remove and dispose of it. They're trained to know how to do it properly and safely.

If you're unable to afford a new battery right away and the cause of the leak is obvious and minuscule, (such as a crack in the outer wall) you could apply a temporary fix until you're able to afford a new one. There are a number of YouTube videos where mechanics walk you through a temporary patch for small battery cracks. However, please be careful and practice caution when doing so.

How much will a new battery cost?

Car batteries run between $50-$200 depending on the quality of battery you purchase and who installs it. On average, most people pay $50-$120. Below we compare the quality of batteries available:

  • A budget battery. These batteries are very affordably priced but have a shorter life, and shorter warranty period.
  • An average battery. These batteries are still fairly affordable in the $75-$120 range. They come with a warranty, and may have some additional features like extra weather protection.
  • A premium battery. These batteries may cost as much as $200. However, they're made for specialty luxury vehicles, have a long life, a long warranty, and multiple special features like cold weather performance, and shock-absorbing casings.

Will my insurance protect my investment?

Some insurers offer free battery replacement or a discounted rate for the replacement. Check your current insurance policy and don't be afraid to compare other policies for the best deal.

Use our free insurance comparison tool to find the best deal, today!

Call an insurance expert
Our team will help you find the lowest insurance prices.
866-996-3156