Battery Discharge Warning – What it Signifies & How to Fix

A battery discharge warning indicates that the battery is low. This can mean that the vehicle is either not charging properly or has a short circuit somewhere in the wiring system. It may also indicate a bad alternator.

It’s important to note that this notice will pop up on your vehicle’s display, the infotainment system, or the dashboard. It might also be accompanied by an audible chime or tone if you have these features enabled on your car.

This warning can appear even when your car is switched off. Not just while you’re driving.

In this post, we’ll be taking you through everything you need to know about the battery discharge warning showing up on your dashboard when the car is switched off and when you’re driving. We’ll also go through the different ways you can get it fixed.

Battery discharge warning

Reasons For The Battery Discharge Warning When Your Car Is Off

When your car is turned off, it’s not drawing electricity from the battery. So, any lights or electronics that are still on will drain the car’s battery quickly. This can cause a battery to go dead if you don’t turn them off before turning off your engine. Here are the common reasons why your battery discharge warning comes up while the car is off:

1. Loose Battery Terminals

If you’re getting a battery discharge warning, it could be because your battery terminals are loose or corroded. Loose connections can lead to other problems like a dead battery or low voltage. You can have a deep dive into what happens when you have your brake and battery light on.

2. Harsh Weather

Extreme weather is another common cause of battery discharge. If you live in a cold climate, your car battery may freeze if it’s not properly maintained.

On the other hand, if you live in an extremely hot climate (such as Phoenix or Las Vegas), your battery will struggle to keep up with the high temperature and can overheat and die prematurely.

3. Unattended Plugged-in Chargers (Overcharging)

One common problem with modern-day vehicles is overcharging. This can kill your battery, resulting in an expensive replacement or even engine failure if left unchecked for too long.

If you keep your mobile phone charging while your car is off, for example, then you may end up with a battery discharge warning message on your dashboard display screen.

4. Using The Climate Control Feature

Climate control can cause battery discharge warnings when the car is off. This can happen when the outside temperature drops below freezing, and you keep your vehicle running for up to 3 minutes with climate control on to defrost windows.

Reasons For The Battery Discharge Warning While Driving

A car that has a dead battery will show this warning message to alert the driver that they need to replace the battery. If there is an issue with your car’s electrical system, this message might appear even though your battery has plenty of juice left. If you have recently received this message while driving, here are the possible reasons why:

1. Poor Ground Connection

A poor ground connection can cause your battery to drain. There is a possibility that the power is seeping towards the ground instead of charging your battery.

It can be easy for dirt, dust, and grime to get into all kinds of places on your car and affect its performance, especially when it comes to electrical systems. This includes things such as undercarriage components where there might not be much airflow down there so everything tends to collect dust over time.

2. Malfunctioning Charging Circuit

If your charging circuit isn’t working properly, you may see the warning lights on your dashboard or experience problems with starting or charging your car.

When this happens, your battery will drain faster than intended and won’t last as long as it should. So make sure they’re inspected regularly.

Side Note: Another common cause of a charging circuit malfunction is a faulty alternator. Because the alternator is responsible for converting mechanical energy into electrical energy, it can fail in numerous ways. You can check out this post on some of the risks of driving with a bad alternator.

If the bearings are worn out or the drive belt has worn away, an alternator will struggle to produce enough current to keep up with your vehicle’s demands and might be unable to recharge your battery at an adequate rate.

3. Weak Battery

A weak or dead battery won’t be able to contain enough amount of charge in any circumstance. Even with your serpentine belt and alternator in perfect working condition, your battery will ultimately die regardless of how much you drive. It’s common for car batteries to last 3-5 years, depending on the type of vehicle and how often you drive it.

4. Bad Alternator

You might think that if your battery is dead, it’s time to replace it. But if you’re driving a vehicle with an alternator problem, the issue will likely be the alternator and not the battery.

The alternator operates your car’s charging system. It won’t function correctly once its lifespan has expired.

After 50,000 miles, your alternator fails and the battery is no longer recharging properly. This can lead to an undercharged or completely empty battery in just 30 minutes.

5. GPS

The GPS is a satellite-based navigation system, which is used for tracking purposes. Your GPS unit could get trapped in a Satellite searching operation, which can cause a rapid battery discharging.

How To Fix The Battery Discharge Warning

1. Check The Electrolyte

The first and most vital approach is to examine the electrolyte values. The battery should be checked and topped up as needed, with distilled water or a mixture of half tap and half demineralized water. If there is no loss of electrolyte, then check your charging system and voltage regulator.

2. Jumpstart

If you’ve got a car battery that won’t start, try jumpstarting it first. Once the batteries are connected, let the healthy car run for a few minutes to give enough juice to the dead battery to turn over. Once the engine starts, let it idle for 10-15 seconds before attempting to drive away.

3. Recharge

You can recharge your battery by disconnecting the battery from the circuit board, then charging it in a safe area away from flammable materials or vapors. Once fully charged, reconnect the battery to its circuit board before using it again.

It’s a common misconception that automobile batteries should be fully drained before they’re recharged. The reality is that this practice can actually damage your car’s battery, and it won’t increase its lifespan, either.

4. Replace The Battery

In the event that your battery is no longer able to hold a charge, you may want to consider replacing it with a new battery. Batteries can be quite expensive, especially if you have an older vehicle that uses lead-acid batteries or nickel-cadmium batteries. However, there are also many other types of replacement batteries available for vehicles today.

Read: Car Leaking Antifreeze When Parked


The battery discharge warning shows that your battery is low. This can be a result of different factors. The battery discharge warning can come up when the car is off or while driving.

If the battery discharge warning light shows up when the car is off, it may be caused by the following factors; headlight left on, climate control, harsh weather, loose battery terminal, and overcharging.

Furthermore, the following factors can be caused if the battery discharge warning light comes when driving; faulty GPS, bad alternator, a poor ground connection, weak battery, and malfunctioning charging circuit.

Whatever the case is, we have provided some explanations on how you can get it fixed. We hope this helps!