Did you leave your lights on? Are you stranded because of a dead battery? Are you helping a friend that is stranded?
Many times a car doesn't start, simply due to a dead battery. Some obvious signs of a dead battery are:
- Clicking noise when you try to start the car
- Sluggish turnover
- No turnover
- No dash, radio, or cab lights
- Light switch is on when entering your car
Hopefully, you've prepared for car trouble and have a pair of jumper cables in your trunk! If not, call up a handy friend and follow these steps:
- Find the battery terminals on both cars.
- Most vehicles will have the battery in the front corner of the engine bay.
- Some newer vehicles route the battery remotely within the vehicle and run the cables to the engine bay.
- Park the running vehicle so that the battery terminals on both cars are as close together as possible.
- Turn off the running vehicle.
- First, connect one positive (red) end of the cable to the positive (+) terminal of the bad battery.
- Connect the other red cable clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery.
- Hook the negative (black) cable clamp to the negative (-) battery terminal to the good battery.
- Connect the remaining black negative cable to an electric ground on the stalled car. A good ground is a clean and dry solid-metal piece in the engine bay. The engine block is typically the best place.
- Start the car with the good battery. Check for any sparks, this is a sign of a bad connection.
- Let the car run for three minutes, this is typically long enough to start a car with a dead battery.
- Start the stalled car.
- If it fails to start, turn the key off and wait three more minutes to try again.
- Avoid turning off your car for twenty minutes, as your battery can only recharge while your engine is running.
If your car fails to start, a dead battery might not be your problem. Your battery could be too old to hold a charge. Even worse, you could have an electrical problem or a bad starter. These things happen often, so make sure you’re proactive and have an emergency roadside assistance plan like AAA.