Car problems always seem to crop up when the weather starts to turn cold. One of the most common, and the most stressful, car problems is when your battery is acting up or its time to replace it. Usually, your first hint is a bit of car trouble, like an engine that doesn’t always crank reliably. Maybe your lights get a little dim by the end of a long drive. Sometimes your car might even point it out with a dashboard warning light.

3 Signs it's Time to Replace Your Car Battery

No matter what signal you get, always take the first sign of trouble as a hint to check out the battery. Luckily, you can check for common problems just by checking the hood. Here are three visual cues that you should replace the battery:

1. Does the battery case look swollen?

When batteries are exposed to an extreme temperature, like an early freeze or too much heat from a sudden drive without coolant, the case is going to react. It might swell and bulge, especially in the heat, and when it will keep that deformed shape even after it cools down. The case itself isn’t the problem. But it’s a good sign that your battery is damaged from too much heat exposure.

2. When did you last change the battery?

If there’s a good spot on your battery, always write in the date when you last changed it out. If that’s not an option, write the date on a windshield sticker like car shops tend to do after an oil change. Batteries are only meant to last four or five years of regular usage. It might just be time for a new one.

3. Something is wrong with the fluids.

Batteries always have gunk. Corrosion builds up around the posts, and sometimes it can creep up into connecting parts. But if the corrosion is rebuilding itself too quickly, or the battery’s inner fluid level is low (which you can check through the transparent window on the case), take it in for a professional to examine.

Battery problems are annoying, but they’re simple to fix if you catch them quickly. Keep reading here for automotive tips.