What To Do When Your Car Battery Dies

You can suffer a dead car battery for a whole host of reasons. This is why flat car batteries are the number one reason for call-outs to breakdown services.

There are a number of reasons why car batteries die. A few common ones include:

  • Leaving headlights, interior lights, flashers, and the radio on when the car isn't running
  • Using the air conditioner when the car is not running
  • Not starting a car for long periods of time (e.g., while it's in storage)
  • Lack of battery maintenance (e.g., not keeping terminals clean)
  • Failure of the diode bridge or voltage regulator in the alternator; the alternator charges the battery when the car is running
  • Low air temperature, which causes batteries to freeze

What To Do When Your Car Battery Dies

What To Do When Your Car Battery Dies

The most common way to deal with a dead battery is by jump-starting it. All you need to jump-start a car is a set of jumper cables and another car (a good Samaritan) with a functional battery. Keep in mind that you should never try to jump-start a car if its battery is cracked and is visibly leaking acid.

To safely jump a start, follow these steps:

  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. Place both vehicles in Park or Neutral and shut off the ignition in both cars.
    • Engage both parking brakes as well.

  3. Attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery.
    • It has "POS" or "+" on it, or it's bigger than the negative terminal.

  4. Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the other car.
  5. Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal on the other battery.
  6. Attach the last black clip to an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn't near the battery.
    • Use one of the metal struts that holds the bonnet open.

  7. Try to start your vehicle.
    • If it won't start, make sure that the cables are properly connected and have the good Samaritan run his or her engine 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 works and your car starts, don't shut off your engine! Drive around for at least 15 minutes to recharge your battery. If the car won't start the next time you use it, the battery isn't holding a charge and needs to be replaced.


Alex Todd Brand Manager at 25plus commented "If your vehicle will not be used for an extended period of time, it's wise to invest in a battery charger so you're prepared if and when you need a charge."