How To Revive A Dead Car Battery – a step by step guide

Many times you are on a tight schedule, running late to work or hurrying to meet up with an important appointment, and that’s the odd time your car battery may decide to go flat. Having a flat car battery at the most awkward moment can be pretty frustrating, especially if you have no idea what caused the battery-drain. However, you don’t have to beat yourself all over again. Dead car batteries are the number one reason for call-outs to breakdown services.

A car battery is the most crucial piece of equipment to starting and driving your vehicle. It sends power from the starter motor to the sparks plugs, igniting your car’s fuel, while also giving other systems power. This includes lights, radio, air conditioning, and more. You may be able to tell when your car battery starts to die if you find it difficult to start, have flickering lights, or a weakening alarm system.

Some of the most common causes why car batteries die include;

1. Human Error
2. Electronic Drain
3. Faulty Charging
4. Defective Alternator
5. Cold temperatures
6. Excessive Short Drives
7. Loose Battery Cables
8. Old battery
9. Parasitic Drain

1. Human Error

You’ve probably done this at least once in your life – you come home from work, tired and not really thinking, and left the headlights on, didn’t completely close the trunk, or even forgot about some internal lights. Overnight the battery drains, and in the morning your car won’t start. Many new cars alert you if you’ve left your lights on, but may not have alerts for other components.

2. Electronic/Parasitic Drains

Parasitic drain is due to components in your vehicle continuing to run after the key is turned off. Some parasitic drain is normal – your battery delivers enough energy to keep things, like your clock, radio presets, and security alarm operational at all times. However, if there’s an electrical problem – such as faulty wiring, poor installation, and defective fuses – parasitic drain can exceed what’s normal and deplete the battery.

3. Faulty charging

If your charging system isn’t working properly, your car battery can drain even while you’re driving. Many cars power their lights, radio, and other systems from the alternator, which can make the battery drain worse if there’s a charging problem. The alternator may have loose belts or worn-out tensioners that keep it from working properly.

4. Bad alternator diode

A car alternator recharges the battery and powers certain electrical systems like lights, radio, air-conditioning, and automatic windows. If your alternator has a bad diode, your battery can drain. The bad alternator diode can cause the circuit to charge even when the engine is shut off, and you end up in the morning with a car that won’t start.

5. Cold temperatures

Whether extremely hot (over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) or cold (under 10 degrees Fahrenheit), temperatures can cause lead sulfate crystals to build-up. If the car is left in such conditions for too long, the sulfate buildup can damage long-term battery life. It may also take a long time for your battery to charge in these environments, especially if you only drive short distances.

6. Short drives

Your battery may wear out before its time if you take too many short drives. The battery puts out the most power when starting the car. Shutting off your vehicle before the alternator has a chance to recharge could explain why the battery continues dying or doesn’t seem to last long.

7. Loose battery connection

The charging system cannot top off your battery while driving if the battery connections have corroded. They should be checked for dirt or signs of corrosion and cleaned using cloth or a toothbrush. Loose battery cables make it difficult to start the engine too, as they cannot transfer the electrical current efficiently.

8. Weak and worn-out battery

If your battery is old or weak, it will not hold a full charge well. If your car consistently won’t start, it’s possible that the battery is worn out. You should generally replace your car battery every 3-4 years. If old, or poorly maintained, your battery may die on a regular basis.

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What To Do When Your Car Battery Dies

If you drive a stick-shift (manual car), push starting, also known as clutch starting, popping the clutch or crash starting, can be used to bump-start your car. This is the method of starting a motor vehicle with an internal combustion engine by engaging the manual transmission while the vehicle is in motion.

The technique is most commonly employed when other starting methods (automobile self starter, kick start, jump start etc.) are unavailable.

Steps to push-start a vehicle;

This is done by two or more persons, with one person either pushing, pulling the lightweight automobile, or even rolling down a hill, and the other controlling the vehicle you want to push-start.

Before you begin, make sure the battery terminals are firmly connected.

1. Put the manual transmission in second gear,

2. Switch the ignition to on/run,

3. Depress the clutch, and

4. Push the vehicle until it is at a speed of 5 to 10 mph (8 to 16 km/h) or more,

5. Then, quickly release the clutch to make the engine rotate and fire,

6. Finally, quickly depress the clutch so it does not stall.

Push-starting or bump-starting a vehicle can only be used for olden automobiles with a manual transmission. For modern automobiles, the most common way to deal with a dead battery is by jump-starting it. But unlike the push-start technique, here, you will need a set of jumper cables and another car with a good working battery.

NEVER attempt to jump-start a car if its battery is cracked and is visibly leaking acid.


Steps to safely jump a start

1. Take out your jumper cables.

It’s a good idea to buy a set of jumper cables and keep them in your car. If you don’t have jumper cables, you have to find a good Samaritan who not only is willing to assist you but who has jumper cables as well.

2. Engage the or neutral gears of both vehicles and shut off the ignition systems.

3. Engage both parking brakes as well.

4. Attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery.

(The red clips has “POS” or “+” on it, or it’s bigger than the negative terminal).

5. Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the other car.

6. Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal of the charged working battery.

7. Attach the last black clip to an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn’t near the battery.

(You may use one of the metal struts that holds the bonnet open).

8. Ensure that all cables are tightly connected.

9. Try to start your vehicle.

10. If it won’t start, run the engine of the working car for five minutes. Then try to start your car again. If it still won’t start, your battery may be beyond help.

If the jump is successful, don’t turn off your engine! Drive around for at least 15 minutes to recharge your battery to the required 12.6 volts.

If the car won’t start the next time you use it, the battery isn’t holding a charge and needs to be replaced.

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