Remove The Battery Clamp
The battery clamp holds the battery in place. Unscrew it with a wrench or socket to move it out of the way. Frequently, the battery clamp will be three pieces that are attached but independently mobile. So, if the clamp seems stuck at first, try to move the clamp’s sidearms up and down to remove them from the battery tray at the bottom. Once they’re free, the entire clamp will quickly come off.
Check Your Car Battery’s Age
Most cars have batteries that last between three and five years. You can check your battery to find out how old it is with the following steps:
Open the hood and remove the battery cover if there is one. Look for a circular sticker with the month and year printed on it.
The first number represents the month and the second is the last two digits of the year. So, 04/18 means April of 2018.
You may also have a battery with a plastic strip or date code stamped into the top. The first letter represents the month. So, A is January, B is February, C is March, etc.
The second number represents the year. So, 8 = 2018, 9 = 2019, 0 = 2020, etc. If your battery is more than three years old, you may need to replace it.
“Its a best practice to get your entire charging system tested by a professional who can inform you of any need to service or replace the battery, alternator, or other part of the vehicle,” said Richard Reina, Product Training Director at CARiD.com. “If your car does not start after a jump, your battery is likely completely dead and will need to be replaced. Your choices are to call for a towing service to bring your car to a repair shop or your residence, or roadside assistance, which may make their own attempt at jump-starting. Some roadside operators are equipped to replace your battery on the spot.”
Call For Professional Help
Roadside assistance is an optional car insurance addition that can sometimes swoop in for the big save during your hour of desperate need. If youve got roadside assistance, get on the horn and call in for help. Not sure if you do? Call your insurance company and find out.For a fee, most towing companies can come to you and jump start your car or tow you to a mechanic who can determine if your battery needs to be replaced, recharged, or simply jumpstarted.
Typically, all a dead battery needs is a jump start to get it going again. Once its been brought back from the Great Beyond, driving your vehicle should be enough for it to recharge back to its normal, fully functional state. If your battery continues to die after its been jumped, this is a sign that you may need to have it replaced. Fortunately, battery replacement is fairly inexpensive.
Recommended Reading: How To Wax A Car With A Buffer
After A Jump Start What Should I Wonder About My Car Battery
Following the Home Depot steps to jump-starting a car, youll soon head back on the road. Unfortunately, you might need another jump-start the next time you get into your vehicle. Here are some frequently asked questions about car batteries that could help you avoid further trouble.
Can A Car Battery Recharge Itself
No, the battery of a car requires external energy to recharge. These batteries store energy but arent capable of producing it themselves. Your alternator sends energy to the battery to keep it fully charged while also running the electrical components of your vehicle once youve started the engine.
Read Also: How Many Miles On A Car Is Bad
How Do You Tell If Its Your Alternator Or Your Battery
If your car wont start, it could be either your battery or your alternator thats causing the problem. Heres how to tell which one it is.
First, check the battery. If the battery is more than three years old, its probably the culprit. Even if its younger than that, it could still be the battery if its been overcharged or if its been sitting idle for a long time.
To check the battery, first make sure that the terminals are clean and free of corrosion. Then, use a voltmeter to test the voltage across the terminals. If the voltage is 12.6 volts or higher, the battery is good. If its 12.5 volts or lower, the battery is bad and needs to be replaced.
Next, check the alternator. The alternator charges the battery and powers the electrical system when the engine is running. If the alternator is not working, the battery will eventually go dead.
To check the alternator, first make sure that the belt that drives it is tight and in good condition. Then, use a voltmeter to test the voltage at the alternators output terminal. The voltage should be between 13.5 and 14.5 volts. If its lower than that, the alternator is not charging the battery.
If youre still not sure which one is the problem, have both the battery and the alternator checked by a qualified mechanic.
Sign Up For Aaa Membership To Protect Yourself
Risks are everywhere, especially when traveling. However, they could be minimized by preparing for unforeseen events or having coverage from AAA if something happens. Stay protected with an AAA Membership, which provides world-class roadside assistance during your travels or day-to-day driving.
Having travel insurance that protects you and your family on road trips can ensure your safety when you need it. That way, you never end up stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery and no way home.
You May Like: How To Buff Out Scuffs On Car
Find The Right Storage Location
While you should count on your battery discharging in some capacity while its in storage, you can take measures to limit the amount of power that is depleted. Outside of the length of time your battery is stored, the main factor that will impact your batterys discharge rate is temperature.
Ideally, you want to keep a battery in a dry, well-ventilated area that remains between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid spots that could get too hot or cold, as it could make the battery discharge faster. In addition, keep away from places with excess humidity this can cause the battery to corrode.
Engine Cranks But Doesnt Start
If your engine cranks or turns over when you turn the key, but it won’t start, I say the most likely culprit is your battery. It might be your starter, it might be something else, but 94% of the time, it’s really your battery, even if the car is cranking fairly vigorously. Even if an ammeter says the battery is good, it can still be a few volts shy of what your vehicle needs to run efficiently.
When you find yourself with a car that won’t crank hard enough to start, you’ll want to use jumper cables or a jump-starter box to get it running again.
Once your car is running again, disconnect the cable, then let your engine run for 30 minutes so that your alternator can charge up your battery again.
After that half-hour, when you are stopped at home or in a safe place, do a little test. After you turn the engine off, wait at least a minute, then start it again. Wait another minute and start it another time or two to make sure that you won’t be stranded at the gas station or wherever you go next.
Note: At this point, most batteries will have charged themselves up from the running of the alternator and be fine for a day or two. Do not take that time for granted. Use it to hunt down a new battery and replace the old one before you end up stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Recommended Reading: How To Mirror Android To Car Screen
Cold Weather And A Low Charged Car Battery
Was your car standing outside while it was freezing weather? Car batteries can actually freeze if the weather is very cold. This especially happens if your car battery is not fully charged and especially if it is empty.
The cold may actually have killed your car battery, and in this case, you have to replace it.
Car Stopped Running While Driving And Wont Start
If your car starts just fine but then dies after a few minutes, you could be dealing with one of the following problems:
These components may fail as the car warms up after you turn it on. You can check a bad ignition coil yourself using either a multimeter or a spark tester, depending on the type of your ignition coil. As for the crankshaft position sensor, you will need a multimeter and you can watch the video below on how to test it:
Don’t Miss: How To Get Mice Out Of Car
How Do You Know If It’s The Alternator Or The Battery
The answer to this question varies from situation to situation, but I’ll address a common one here. If you jump start it and your engine starts running, but the car will not start again once you turn it off, then the battery is likely the problem. While, in this case, the alternator is doing its job of keeping the battery going once it has been jumped, the battery still can’t hold a charge when the alternator is shut off. Again, this is a sign that the battery is the culprit.
What To Do If Your Car Battery Is Drained
The answer to this question entirely depends on why your battery is flat. If its old or faulty, youll need to replace the battery. Its possible to do this at home with the right know-how and tools, but the quickest and safest option is to get a trained mechanic to do the job.
On the other hand, if your battery has been drained because you accidentally left a light on or the radio, you have two options. You can either jump start your car or purchase a car battery charger which plugs in at home.
Read Also: Does Insurance Cover The Car Or The Driver
What Really Happens On A Chemical Level When A Car Battery Dies
While some of the problems we discussed above actually had to do with a bad battery, many of them were unrelated underlying causes. In those cases, fixing the unrelated problem and fully charging your battery will be the end of it. However, the reality of the situation is that every time a battery dies, it suffers irreversible damage.
When a battery is fully charged, it consists of lead plates suspended in a solution of water and sulfuric acid. As the battery discharges, sulfur is drawn out of the battery acid and the lead plates become coated in lead sulfate.
This is a reversible process, which is why its possible to charge and discharge a lead-acid battery. When you connect a charger to a battery, or when the alternator provides current to it when your engine is running, most of the lead sulfate coating on the lead plates return to the liquid electrolyte. At the same time, hydrogen is also released.
While the process is reversible, the number of charges and discharge cycles is limited. The number of times the battery can totally die is also limited. So you may find that even if you fix any underlying problem, a battery that has been jump-started or charged from dead more than a handful of times will have to be replaced anyway.
Be Conscious Of Cold Weather
Cold weather can test the limits of your battery and can sometimes be the very thing that does it in. Try to bundle your errands together in the winter, so youre driving longer, as starting the engine is especially stressful on the battery when temps have dropped. Try to park it in the warmth of the sun, and if you live in one of Americas coldest places, consider insulating your battery. Read more here about how to keep your battery alive and kicking during the winter months.
Also Check: How To Get Car Out Of Mud
The Alternator Is Going Bad
The alternators job is always to charge the car battery while you are driving. If the alternator is starting to go bad, it may not charge the car battery properly, and within time, this can cause the car battery to drain out.
You can check the alternator by measuring the car battery voltage on idle. You should get over 14 volts if your alternator is in good shape.
What Happens If Your Car Battery Is Completely Dead
What a disaster right? Youre supposed to be on your way to work, but your car wont start. All of us who have driven cars have, at some time or another faced the issue of the car not starting at all because of a dead battery.
But the next time you face this issue, you wont have to panic because we will now discuss how to start a car when your car battery is completely dead.
Before touching the battery though, you have to be sure that it really is the problem and not the ignition or that the battery cables need cleaning or some other factors.
Once you have made sure that it is indeed a battery problem, then look at the following feasible solutions which are simple to use, and these are some really good dead auto battery tricks. There could be many reasons why your car battery is has gone flat.
You could have carelessly left the lights on or maybe because you havent gotten around to starting the car for many days in a row or simply because the car is parked outside in freezing temperatures.
The solution wont present itself by panicking although its natural to get a little worried.
Also Check: How To Check If Car Battery Is Under Warranty
You’ve Jumped It A Lot Already
I have a simple hard-and-fast rule that I follow when it comes to having to jump your battery. No matter what reason you had to do itthe battery was old, or maybe the starter, fuel pump, or alternator were bad, or maybe you left your headlights on or your door ajar all night, or you ran out of gasthe rule is this:
If you have to jump your vehicle more than three times in a single week, it’s time to replace your battery.
Even a fairly new battery can turn into a dud really quickly if it has been jumped more than three times in a week. Using a jump box or jumper cables is hard on your battery. They work by figuratively “shocking” it back to life.
Now, you might think I’m crazy about replacing the battery after such a low jump count, but hear me out. One of the most common things I see happening in relation to vehicle battery problems is that the driver or mechanic will assume that because the battery wasn’t old, or wasn’t the specific culprit for the battery draining itself, they dont need to expend time or money getting a new one. Then, when they try this and that to diagnose the problem, they keep jumping the battery until, finally, the alternator and starter go bad, leaving you with a need for a new alternator, starter, and battery.
Save yourself the headache and just replace the battery if you’ve had to jump it more than three times in a week. You won’t regret it.
One Day It Starts Fine The Next Day It Won’t
If starting is an intermittent problem for you, it’s a sign that either your battery terminals are loose, broken, corroded, or calcified or that you have a parasitic draw .
- Check out the battery cables first, as they are usually the prime suspect and are easier to check yourself.
- Make sure the cables fit firmly and securely on the battery posts. There should be zero play in them. You shouldn’t be able to wiggle them even an inch when they are tight. Also, make sure that the cables going to the terminals are not frayed or falling apart if they are, replace them as soon as possible.
In this video, Eric the Car Guy shows you loose and corroded cables, and how they can cause a drop in power to the starter.
Parasitic draws from sources other than the battery cables are fairly common. Suspect a parasitic draw if the car starts right up if you drive it several days in a row, but then fails to start if you let it sit for a day. To investigate parasitic draw issues, see your favorite mechanic, or look at the last section of this article, and get ready to have fun with an ammeter or voltmeter, as these are the tools you’ll need to check your alternator, accessory lights, fuses, radio, alarm, and all other components that might be draining your battery in secret.
Don’t Miss: When Is A Car Totaled
If A Car Battery Is Completely Dead Can It Be Recharged
Yes, you can fix a completely dead battery. All you need is a bit of Epsom salt and some distilled water to clear out the sulfur deposits. Epsom salt dissolves all the build-up and cleans out the terminals.
Pour a tablespoon of the solution into each of the six cells of the battery. Attach a small tickle charger afterward and your battery would be good as new.
Quick note: keep the tickle charge on low power. You dont want to blast the newly revived battery with a charge.