Battery goes dead

  • By Lea Naiz
  • 28 Jun, 2017

Have you ever been in a situation when you needed to get to work or an important meeting, but your car wouldn’t start? We have, and I’m guessing it’ll eventually happen to you if it hasn’t already. When such a situation arises, chances are that a dead or weak battery is the culprit.

There are a number of reasons why batteries can weaken and fail.
A few common ones include:

• Leaving headlights, interior lights, flashers, and the radio on when the car isn’t running.
• Using the air conditioner when the car is not running.
• Not starting a car for long periods of time (e.g., while it’s in storage).
• Lack of battery maintenance (e.g., not keeping terminals clean).
• Failure of the diode bridge or voltage regulator in the alternator; the alternator charges the battery when the car is running.
• Low air temperature, which causes batteries to freeze.

What to do when your battery dies:
The most common way to deal with a dead battery is by jump-starting it. All you need to jump-start a car is a set of jumper cables and another car (the “rescue” car) with a functional battery. Keep in mind that you should never try to jump-start a car if its battery is cracked and is visibly leaking acid.

Jump-starting a car involves a number of steps:
Step 1:   Park the “rescue” car and the car with the dead battery nose-to-nose, or side-by-side facing the same direction. Connect one end of the positive cables to the positive terminal on the “rescue” car’s battery, and the other end to the positive terminal on the dead battery. (Note that the positive cable is usually red; the negative cable usually black.)

Step 2:   Connect one end of the negative cable to the negative terminal on the “rescue” car’s battery, and the other end to a non-moving, grounded part of the dead car’s engine bay — we recommend the engine manifold, as it is generally unpainted and a good location for the clamp.

Step 3:   Start the “rescue” car and allow it to run for a few minutes (5 minutes or so); doing so will allow its battery to recharge the dead battery.

Step 4:   With the rescue car running, attempt to start the car with the dead battery; if the car doesn’t start, repeat step 3.

If the car with the dead battery starts, allow its engine to run for at least five full minutes so that the alternator can recharge the battery. Disconnect the jumper cables from both cars in the reverse order in which you connected them. Make sure that you don’t let any of the cables’ extremities touch, as it may create a spark.

Massively important safety note:   Never connect both negative and positive cables at the same time while you are holding them. Unless you’d like the entire voltage of the car coursing through your body, don’t do it. Also, refrain from touching the negative and positive knobs with your hands/fingers/extremities. We know it’s tempting, but you don’t want to be an auto kebab.

What To Have Handy:

Jumper cables
It’s always a good idea to keep jumper cables in your car. They can prove useful in the event that your car needs a jump-start, or in cases where you may need to jump-start someone else’s vehicle. Jumper cables cost approximately $10, and should be available at any automotive supply store. They come in different lengths, but a 12-foot cable is fairly standard.

You may also want to keep a voltmeter in your car to test its battery. Voltmeters typically run about $15, and are also available at auto parts stores.

At home, it’s always a good idea to have an AC charger handy. You can use such a device when your car’s battery dies or becomes too weak to start the car. Like jumper cables and voltmeters, chargers are available where car parts are sold, and prices start at $40.

Blog Categories

Recent Posts

By Morgan Gertler 04 Oct, 2017
If you take your car to a dealership for service, you will get OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts. If you go to an independent shop, you will most likely (though not necessarily) get aftermarket parts. Many people assume that OEM is better, and worry that aftermarket parts may not be up to par. Is there any truth to this belief? Or does it make sense to save money by using aftermarket parts? What’s the difference, anyway? Here’s what you should know.
By Morgan Gertler 04 Oct, 2017
Today’s gas stations offer a variety of options, from unleaded fuel with a range of octane ratings to diesel fuel. Sometimes higher-octane choices have names such as Super, Plus, Super Plus, Premium, or Super Premium. With so many different types of gas to choose from, you might wonder what happens if you select the wrong one. What happens if you use the wrong gas depends on what kind of engine you have and which specific fuel you use.
By Morgan Gertler 04 Oct, 2017
Extreme weather is a fact of life, and now is the time to get prepared. While regular car maintenance is always essential, different weather events make certain problems more likely to occur. Here are 4 tips for handling whatever extreme weather might come your way.
By Morgan Gertler 30 Aug, 2017
Visibility is a major key to safe, defensive driving, but many people overlook it when caring for their cars. Maximizing visibility is essential even when driving in sunny conditions, but it can quickly become a matter of life and death when dealing with rain, fog, or snow. Fortunately, a few simple maintenance tasks can dramatically improve visibility.
By Morgan Gertler 30 Aug, 2017
Gasoline is a necessary ongoing expense for vehicle owners, and many people are looking for ways to save at the pump. You probably already know that premium fuel is an unnecessary expense for those whose cars do not require it, but you may be skeptical of switching to an off brand. Will cheap gas harm your car? Here is what you should know.
More Posts
Share by: