Car Battery Dead: How to Jump Start Your Battery?

Car Battery Charging
Al Ibrahim, Flickr

Car batteries always die at the wrong time. Not that there’s necessarily any good time for a battery to give up the ghost. But you usually only discover it’s dead when you’re in a rush to get somewhere and your engine won’t turn over.

What should you do? Before you freak out, read on. You just might find a quick solution that’ll get you back on the road in short time.

Look around you. Depending on where you are and what time of day your battery’s decided to punch the proverbial ticket, your options could vary. The first thing you’re going to need are some jumper cables and a willing person to pull his or her car up alongside yours and give you a jump start. If you’ve never learned how to jumpstart a car before, and are asking yourself, “Positive to negative, or positive to positive?” here’s how. Try asking someone nearby if they’d be willing to give you a hand. Don’t be shy about asking – almost everyone’s been in this situation before and can probably identify with your dilemma. If there’s nobody around, move on to the next step below.

Phone a friend. Pull out your cell phone and start swiping through your list of contacts. Call your spouse, your best friend, or a family member to ask them if they have jumper cables and if they can get to you. If you have to be someplace and don’t have the time to deal with jump starting your car, they can at very least give you a ride to your destination.

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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 you’ve got roadside assistance, get on the horn and call in for help. Not sure if you do? Call your insurance company and find out. If the answer’s still no, seek out a nearby towing company. 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 jump started.

Typically, all a dead battery needs is a jump start to get it going again. Once it’s 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 it’s been jumped, this is a sign that you may need to have it replaced. Fortunately, battery replacement is fairly inexpensive.

Keeping Your Car Battery Alive

Here are some actions you can take to extend the life of your car’s battery.

  • Don’t leave your car stereo on when the vehicle’s not running.
  • Make sure your headlights and interior lights are off every time you exit your car. If you’ve got an option to leave the lights on an ‘automatic’ setting, use that one to avoid having to flip the switch.
  • 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 you’re 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 America’s coldest places, consider insulating your battery. Read more here about how to keep your battery alive and kicking during the winter months.
  • Peek under the hood every so often to check the condition of your battery. Corrosion can often build up between around battery’s connectors, causing it not to operate properly. If you notice corrosion, use a wire brush to scrub away at it. Here are some additional tips for doing that.
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