Learn What To Do When Your Vehicle’s Battery Fails
The time to figure out what to do with a dead battery is not the day it happens to you! If you were lucky enough to get through your commute today without any hitches, then this might be a good time to take a few minutes to prep for the inevitable day when you don’t get where you're going so smoothly. What do you do when your car battery is dead?
How Your Car Battery Works
Your automotive battery is in charge of all the electrical systems in your vehicle. The radio, headlights, windows, ignition, and more depending on the features you have. This rechargeable battery sends a jolt of electricity to your engine to start the vehicle and from there the alternator recharges the battery as you drive. This ensures that it is fully powered to dependably do its job next time you need to start your car, turn on the radio, roll up the windows, etc.
Why Automotive Batteries Fail
The primary reasons for automotive battery failure are:
- Age – an average battery lasts about 36 months.
- Corrosion – check out this video on battery corrosion
- User Error – leaving an electrical component on after turning the engine off i.e. headlights or cab lights.
- Using electrical components in the ACC or “accessories position” for extended periods of time.
What To Do When Your Battery Fails
An ounce of prevention, in this case, is most certainly a pound of cure. You should be sure when stocking the emergency kit that you include options in the event of a dead battery. The most common options are jumper cables or a jump box.
Jumper Cables are dependant on another vehicle. Ask for a volunteer to allow you to “jump” off of their battery. This process essentially uses your volunteer’s battery to secure an electrical jolt to start your car. At that point, your battery should recharge itself using the current from your alternator – unless you have a bad battery!
- Make sure both vehicles are placed in park and turned off
- Attach the red cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery (notated by a + sign)
- Attach the opposite end of the same red cable to the positive terminal of the good battery
- Attach the black cable to the negative terminal of the good battery (notated by a - sign)
- Go back to the vehicle with the dead battery and attach the other end of the black cable to an unpainted metal surface (ground)
- Start the car and allow the good battery to charge the bad battery for a few minutes
- Start your car. If it does not start, reposition the black cable on the unpainted service, rev the running engine to allow the alternator to send a little more amperage to the dead battery, then try again
- Once your vehicle is running, unclamp cables in the reverse order you attached them
Jump boxes enable you to jump your vehicle without a volunteer, which can be a more dependable and safe solution.
- Attach the positive jump box cable to the positive battery terminal. (notated by a + sign)
- Attach the negative jump box cable to the negative battery terminal. (notated by a - sign)
- Start your engine.
- Carefully remove the negative (ground) cable.
- Finally, remove the positive cable.
- You will need to be sure to recharge your jump box when you get home.
Get It Tested!
After your vehicle is running you will want to get your battery tested to ensure that it is not a bad battery. Having your car battery tested at an Auto Parts retailer may be unreliable. The battery may not be the cause of the problem — just a symptom of another issue. North Hills Automotive has the expertise necessary to diagnose the problem correctly.
If all of the DIY options aren't in your wheelhouse don't hesitate to check in with your insurance company. Insurance agencies usually offer optional roadside assistance.
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense! Take the offensive and bring your vehicle to North Hills Auto for our 120 Point Vehicle Inspection!