The BATTERY CHARGE LOW or BATT LOW warning message on my dash is on. What does that mean and what should I do?
For vehicles equipped with the Battery Management System, this message occurs when the battery’s State of Charge has dropped below a predetermined level. The message is intended to inform you that the battery requires charging to guarantee proper performance under all conditions (extremely cold conditions, high electrical system demands, etc).
Conditions that may cause the battery charge to drop enough to prompt the BATTERY CHARGE LOW or BATT LOW message are:
- Extended time spent with the ignition on, but the engine not running. The affect on the battery is made worse if the radio, lights, heater fan or other accessories are on at the same time.
- Driving short trips repeatedly without a longer trip between them. The starter uses a lot of energy when starting the engine. If the engine is not run long enough, the charging system cannot recharge the battery to the level it was at before the engine was started. Running high-demand electrical accessories, such as seat heaters, can make this situation even worse.
- Extremely cold weather is also hard on the battery. Not only does it require more energy to start the vehicle in the cold, but the battery just doesn’t work as well.
If any of these conditions occur, and the battery charge drops below a certain level, the battery management system informs the driver that the battery may not be able to start the vehicle in extreme cases by illuminating the BATTERY CHARGE LOW or BATT LOW warning message. While this message does mean the battery charge is low, it usually does not mean that the battery won’t start the engine.
If you see the BATTERY CHARGE LOW or BATT LOW message, don’t panic. It simply means the battery charge is lower than it should be. This can be fixed by taking longer trips between shorter trips, minimizing unnecessary electrical accessory usage during short trips, and spending less time using electrical accessories while the engine is not running.
The battery management system is intended to protect the driver from allowing the battery charge to drop to a point where it cannot start the vehicle. By using it as a guide, not only will the life of the battery be extended, but the chances of the vehicle not starting due to a discharged battery will be greatly reduced.