And what you can do to about it
We’ve all been there. You overslept, have to pack lunches, get the kids to school on time and make it into work for an important morning meeting. You get in your car, turn the key and nothing. It won’t start. The engine cranks and the lights on your dashboard flicker which means one thing: you have a dead battery.
It’s the most common cause of breakdowns for car owners. It’s an easy, inexpensive fix but it’s inconvenient and always seems to happen at the worst time.
What causes your car’s battery to go bad?
There are several things that can cause the key component to your car’s electrical system to stop working. Accidentally leaving your lights on when the car is off can quickly drain a battery. Extreme temperatures either hot or cold can impair the charging time and cause it to die. Age is also factor when it comes to battery life. Most car batteries will last about four years, with average wear and tear and the cost to repair them ranges anywhere from $50 to $300 or more for luxury or high-end vehicles.
How to give your battery a jumpstart
Giving your battery a jumpstart is the best way to get it going. There are two things you can do:
- Ask a neighbor or friend to help
- Use a portable battery charger that you purchase from a store
We’ll talk about jumpstarting with help from another car first.
When you look under the hood you’ll see two posts sticking out from the battery: one positive (+) and one negative (-). With jumper cables, connect the positive end of the dead battery (+) to the positive (+) end of the boosting car. Then do the same with the negative (-). Once they are connected, start the boosting car’s engine and let it run for a couple of minutes. Then, start the engine of the dead car. Remove the jumper cables in reverse order – start with the negative (-) end on the dead vehicle first.
If there’s no one around with another car to help you jump your battery you can use a portable battery charger (sometimes called a battery booster). These can be a life saver if there is no one around to help you. They’re especially helpful in cold climates where the weather takes a beating on batteries. They work the same way, but instead of plugging into another car, you plug into the portable charger and get the jump you need. They don’t re-charge your battery, but give you the amps needed to start your engine. We recommend keeping one in your trunk. They do require a re-charge after each use and they have an indicator light which tells you how much battery life is left. Simply plug it into an outlet at your home for a few hours and it will be good to go for a few months. Just like your car’s battery, extreme heat and cold will cause your portable jump starter to lose charge, too.
If you believe your battery died because it’s been a while since you replaced it, get the jump you need then drive immediately to your nearest mechanic or auto parts store and plan to get a new one. If you don’t replace it, you could find yourself in the same situation in a few days.
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