Signs of A Bad Motorcycle Battery

June 17, 2021

Test on the battery with device.

Batteries won’t last forever. There is a maximum lifespan/expectancy for every battery, even the best around. This is a result of the primary composition of batteries, which are chemicals, and these chemicals over time weaken or decompose—thereby affecting the functionality of the battery.

Different factors can affect the lifespan of your motorcycle battery. Factors such as the duration you ride your bike, the type and composition of the battery, and how old the battery is, among others, will tell on your battery’s performance.

Regardless of how you use your battery, whether you maintain good riding practices and put less strain on your battery, it still does not guarantee that your battery won’t fail. The best thing to do is to ensure you observe and look out for signs that will indicate that your battery is getting weak and work on them. Also, a regular checkup of your battery should be carried out by a knowledgeable mechanic.

Difference Between A Dead Battery & A Bad Battery

Most people, one way or the other, have left their headlight on for an extended time, sometimes over the night. Over time, the battery dies as a result of prolonged use without a recharge. However, it can be revived.

However, it is a different story for a bad battery. Bad batteries cannot be charged; neither can they be revived.

Signs of Failing & Bad Motorcycle Battery

A lot of things can negatively affect the lifespan of your motorcycle’s battery. The total duration for which you ride your motorcycle, the kind of battery, and how old the battery is, tend to affect performance. Batteries can fail prematurely without much warning, but to prevent this from happening, it is advisable to perform regular checks on your bike and note certain changes.

Starting Problems

If it starts taking a longer time than usual for your bike to start, your battery may be the cause. Your battery may likely need recharging; however, this is an indicator of more troubles to come, and the final solution will be you replacing the battery. Therefore, it is important to prepare for a new battery, when issues like this continue to persist, to get your bike running. 

Uncertain Multimeter Readings

A multimeter measures different electrical parameters such as; current, voltage, resistance, etc., and motorcycle owners should own one. You can use the multimeter to check the reading of the battery regularly. If you get readings below 12volts, something is probably wrong with your battery, as 12volts signifies a perfectly functional battery.

Idle Issues

If you find it hard to run your motorcycle at idle speeds, you should check your battery. This problem may arise as a result of the bike not getting adequate power from the battery. If your engine is being run by keeping the throttle open, then you should take a look at your battery.

One of the main reasons why your motorcycle is not starting is prolonged idleness. If you ride your bike once in a long while, and return to find out it is not starting, this is an indication that your battery is dead or faulty and will need a kickstart or a new replacement. It is essential to note that any vehicle’s battery, including a motorcycle, can die whether it is active use or not. In some cases, leaving the motorcycle unused for a long period increases the chances of the battery failing.

Failing Horn and Lights

It could be one of the obvious signs when the horn and lights don’t receive sufficient electric power from the battery. The signs include fading horns and dimming front lights. The horn and light are two essential features in any vehicle. They help to quickly detect what is in front and alert other people, both drivers, and passersby, of your presence. Having failing horn and light is dangerous and is an indication of a failing battery. If you notice your bike light is not as bright as before and the horn produces faint sounds, you should inspect your battery. 


The older your battery gets, the higher the chances of it failing. To this effect, the average lifespan of standard motorcycles battery is four years after this; your battery can start exhibiting signs of failure such as fast discharge or incomplete recharge, among others. This can even begin to occur before four years. However, a good battery will last you, but when you remember how old your battery is, the reason for your battery’s failure can be old age. Therefore, you can start looking for a replacement.

How To Spot The Potential Hidden Signs of Bad Battery on Your Motorcycle?

One of the first things to consider is the possible cause of the malfunction/failure. For your battery, inspect the battery for any damage and consider the age. If it has not exceeded three years and undergoes regular checkups and charging, then it may not be responsible for your bike not starting.

Do not quietly conclude that the problem is the battery, inspect other parts of the bike such as the wiring; the connections at the terminal may be faulty. Also, it is advisable to have an experienced mechanic inspect the bike as the problem might be more mechanical. For example, the alternator may be the cause of the problem. Most motorcycles produced nowadays have a safety feature that activates if the clutch is not engaged and the transmission is left in gear, therefore preventing the bike from coming on. Therefore, it is important to know where the problem is coming from before investing in a new battery.

Visual Inspection

You can observe most of the symptoms or signs of a faulty battery visually. Visible symptoms of a bad/faulty battery are; swollen plastic casing or a crack on the casing, broken terminals, leaking of fluids, etc.

In some cases, by paying close attention to your battery, you can detect if iit’sbad. Below are some things to look out for;

  • Broken terminal.
  • Swollen battery case
  • A break or crack on the case
  • Leaking
  • Discoloration/ Change in color

A broken or loose battery terminal is dangerous. It can lead to a short circuit, which in turn leads to burning or melting of the components around it, therefore emerging too much heat. The battery explodes as a result.

If you observe a bulge or swelling on the battery, it can be as a result of overcharging. Poor handling of the battery can lead to the case of the battery cracking or breaking and thereby making the battery unsafe for use.

If you are using a wet cell battery, it is important to maintain the water level. However, if the water level falls below the standard, you can balance it with distilled water. But in instances where the battery is dry, refilling might not work at all. A dry battery is likely to experience sulfating. Sulfation occurs as a result of the reaction of oxygen and battery cells. It is a major cause of premature failure.

Also, charging a dry cell only further damages the battery. Also, even when there is fluid in the battery, you should watch out for change in pigmentation. If the fluid in your battery is blackish or brownish, it is a pointer to a bad battery. Colors like this mean you need to change your battery as soon as possible.

Battery Testing

Using a battery tester is the best way of inspecting the state of your battery. A very good tester is usually associated with racing sports batteries; they even go as far as proffering possible series of actions to follow.

A bad battery needs replacement. However, it is important to go for a quality replacement battery so that you don’t find yourself in the market sooner in search of another battery. Buy from reputable sources.


If you observe that your battery is not recharging fully or discharges faster than normal, regardless of when or how soon it began, it is important to have it inspected.