How To Tell If a Lithium Ion Battery Is Bad

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how to tell if a lithium ion battery is bad

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway:

  • Identify lithium-ion battery failure with signs like longer charging times, overheating, and swelling. Use quality chargers and store batteries properly to extend life.

The risk of lithium-ion battery accidents has decreased as the technology has improved. However, problems can still occur.

Many are interested in identifying faulty lithium-ion batteries, which may exhibit symptoms like reduced capacity, low voltage, rapid self-discharge, overheating, and swelling.

This article will discuss how to check for lithium-ion battery failure.

Causes of Lithium-Ion Battery Failure

Lithium-ion batteries, despite BMS protection, remain vulnerable to internal and external factors that can cause failure.

Internally, manufacturing issues like price gouging, subpar materials, and sloppy production can compromise durability and performance.

Externally, environmental conditions like temperature, humidity, air pressure, and physical stress can negatively impact battery health over time.

Common Signs Lithium-Ion Battery is Failing

Your lithium-ion battery won’t last forever, but there are some telltale signs that it’s starting to fail.

1. Longer Charging Time

Slower charging indicates your battery is losing capacity and won’t hold a charge as long.

This is an early sign your lithium-ion battery is failing, as these batteries gradually lose energy storage and efficiency over time.

2. Shorter Battery Life

A rapid discharge rate is an initial sign of lithium-ion battery damage.

If your battery needs frequent recharging, it may indicate the battery is wearing out and needs replacement.

3. Overheating

Excessive heat during battery use or charging is a concern.

Some heat is normal, but abnormal temperature increases could indicate internal issues.

Monitor any noticeable heat rise, as overheating affects performance and poses safety risks.

Excessive heat may lead to thermal runaway, where the temperature continues rising, making the device dangerously hot. This signals the battery needs closer inspection.

4. Inability to Charge

A dead battery is a common problem for portable electronics users.

When a device won’t charge, it likely indicates a dying battery that needs replacement.

5. Unexpected Power Offs

When a device suddenly shuts off despite ample battery life, it often indicates a failing lithium-ion battery.

If this persists, the battery should be replaced by a professional.

6. Inaccurate Battery Indicator

Even with a full battery meter, devices can unexpectedly die, indicating a failing battery that needs replacement.

7. Poor Response Time

Your device’s poor response time can indicate a weak battery, or may result from data overload or software issues.

8. Low Voltage

Batteries gradually lose voltage over time.

When a certain voltage is detected, the cutoff circuit disconnects the battery immediately.

For example, a 4.2V lithium-ion battery may change to 3.7V after repeated charging and discharging.

The device stops functioning once the battery drops below 3.4V, and it’s unusable at 3. 0V.

9. High Frequency Of Self-Discharge

Batteries eventually lose their charge when not in use.

High-quality lithium-ion batteries have a low self-discharge rate.

Remove the battery after two hours and check the charge level before unplugging.

If the readings are outside the specified range, assume the battery is broken.

10. Swelling or Bulging

Swelling or bulging in the battery casing indicates internal problems.

A deformed battery signals potential failure and safety risks, including leakage or explosion.

Swelling occurs due to gas buildup from internal component breakdown or damage, causing the battery to expand.

Troubleshooting Lithium-Ion Battery Issues

Test your lithium-ion battery immediately if you suspect it’s malfunctioning.

Issues like fires can be caused by a defective battery. Use a multimeter to test the battery.

use a multimeter to test the battery

Remove it from its case and connect the multimeter’s positive and negative leads to the battery terminals. Power on the multimeter and activate “DC Voltage” mode. Place the probes on the terminals and read the results.

A damaged lithium-ion battery may show a voltage below its normal 3. 7V level, such as 3. 5V or less.

Check the battery’s capacity by fully discharging and taking a new reading – a damaged battery will have less power.

Replace the lithium-ion battery as soon as possible if you suspect damage. It’s not worth the risk to continue using a compromised battery.

6 Ways to Extend the Lithium-Ion Batteries Life

1. Use a high-quality charger made for lithium-ion batteries to avoid reducing battery life.

2. Avoid overcharging – don’t leave batteries charging overnight unless necessary.

3. Don’t over-discharge batteries, aim to keep them above 50%.

4. Store batteries in a cool, dry environment to extend their lifespan.

5. Use trusted, high-quality batteries from known manufacturers to prevent damage.

6. Avoid extreme heat and cold.


This article covered common lithium-ion battery failure signs, like longer charging, shorter life, overheating, and unexpected shutdowns.

It also offered tips to extend battery lifespan, such as using quality chargers, avoiding overcharging, and storing in a cool, dry place.

Being aware of potential issues and taking precautions can help ensure safe, reliable performance of lithium-ion powered devices.

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