Starting Trouble? Dealing With Battery Problems

A car that refuses to start when you need it is frustrating. It’s worse if this happens when you are away from home. A bad or discharged battery is the most common cause of starting troubles and it’s important to know how to recover from a battery problem.

There are two types of battery problems. One is a battery that’s otherwise healthy but has been discharged to a point where it cannot start the car. This is a temporary issue and things should be fine once the battery is fully charged. The other possibility is that your battery is dead or close to death. This will need a battery replacement.

Life Expectancy Of A Car Battery

The life of your battery depends on it’s quality and usage conditions. If your car is used several times a week and the electrical system is in good condition, you can expect a good-quality battery to last for about four to five years. If your car is sparingly used, a battery replacement every three years is the norm. Some premium batteries may give a couple of years more.

Symptoms Of A Dying Battery

Car Battery Problem

Batteries can die suddenly, but in most cases, you will get some advance warning. The starting problem is the main symptom. When you try to start, the engine cranks weakly, but the car won’t start. You have to try multiple times before you manage to start.

Initially, the problem could be intermittent, but with time, it gets worse. Starting becomes a struggle every time. Batteries underperform at low temperatures. Some difficulty while starting in icy weather is not abnormal. But, if you face intermittent starting trouble and you can’t think of any logical reason, get it checked before the battery fails completely.

How Can A Good Battery Get Discharged?

Even a healthy battery cannot start your car if it is discharged and there are several situations where this can happen.

  1. If you don’t use your car for several weeks, the battery will gradually get drained.
  2. If you accidentally leave your headlights, radio, fan or some other power-hungry accessory on, it will drain your battery in a few hours.
  3. Your battery can lose charge if there is a fault in the charging system.

Solving A Battery Problem

If your battery is dying, get it checked as soon as possible. If there are no other issues, a battery replacement will solve the problem. Doing this in time will save you the inconvenience of getting stranded.

If your battery is healthy but has got completely discharged, the best thing to do is to get it fully charged at a garage or battery service outlet. This is the best option if you are not in a hurry to use the car. You can also charge the battery at home if you have a compatible charger.

If you face repeated battery discharges for no apparent reason, get your car checked at a good garage. The problem could be with the charging system or there could be an electrical drain, which must be fixed.

When you have a dead or discharged battery and you want to get mobile immediately, there are two ways to do it. The first option is available only if you have a car with a manual transmission. You can push start a manual vehicle if you are able to find some people to help you. The other option is to jump-start your car using the working battery of another vehicle.

Jump-Starting Your Car

You will need a set of jumper cables and another car with a good battery. If you have your owner’s manual, you will find the instructions in it or you can follow the steps given below.

  1. Park the other car (with the good battery) facing your car. The cars should not touch each other. Leave a gap of at least 1.5 feet between them.
  2. Switch off the engines and set the parking brakes.
  3. Put both cars in neutral (or in park position for automatic transmission).
  4. Turn off the fan, radio, lights, accessories and unplug any gadget that’s plugged in.
  5. Remove the ignition keys and open the bonnets. You should be able to see the batteries. In some cars, there will be a cover over the battery, which should be easy to remove.
  6. Get the jumper cables. You will notice that one cable is black, one is red and both have clamps at the ends. In some jumper cables, both cables may be of the same colour, but the clamps will be red or black.
  7. A word of caution: the clamps should never touch each other when they are connected to a battery and the cables should not be close to or in the way of any moving parts like fans or belts in either car.
  8. Start the car with the good battery first. After that, we can connect the cables.
  9. Start with the black cables/clamps and the good battery. Connect one black clamp to the negative terminal of the good battery. Then, connect the other black clamp to the negative terminal of the bad battery.
  10. Connect one red clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery and then connect the other red clamp to the positive terminal of the bad battery. You may observe some small sparks when you connect the last positive clamp to the bad battery, which is normal.
  11. After connecting the cable, allow the working car to run for a minute. If the weather is very cold, give it a couple of minutes. Now, try starting your car. If it doesn’t start, remove the keys and recheck the connections. Ask the other driver to rev the engine of the working car for a few seconds, then try again. If your car doesn’t start after three or four attempts, it’s best to call the garage.
  12. Once your car has started, don’t disconnect the cables right away. Rev your engine (the car with the dead battery) a few times before disconnecting the cables. Don’t switch off your engine.
  13. To disconnect the cables, we go in the exact reverse order by removing the red clamp on the positive of the bad battery. After that, remove the red clamp on the positive of the good battery, then the black clamp from the negative of the bad battery and finally, the black clamp from the negative of the good battery.
  14. Allow your engine to run or preferably drive your car for at least 15 minutes to help recharge its battery to a sustainable level.

A bad battery is usually the cause of chronic starting problems, but other causes are also possible. Get your car checked at a garage to rule out other issues before replacing the battery. If you live in or around Manchester, contact us for a premium hassle-free car service at a none premium price.

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