Your car’s battery is dead: What do you do now?

At one time or another, we’ve all headed out to the car and heard the dreaded “click” when we tried to start the car.  Either the engine won’t turn over, or it does it really slow. You’ve got a dead battery. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, consider yourself lucky. Because, if your battery is over three years old, it will most likely happen sooner than later.  With the heavy load new cars put on the electrical system, batteries aren’t lasting as long as we want them to.

If you find yourself stuck with a dead battery, here is what you should do.

Jumper cables: Many of us plan for this and carry a good set of jumper cables. When I mean “good set,” I am referring to a set of jumper cables that are heavy gauge wire. (You want at least 8 ga, but 6 ga is better) Usually, a good set of jumper cables can be found for $40. (Much cheaper than a wrecker fee)

Donor battery or Jump Box: If you have one of those emergency battery packs, that is the first choice. ( I have a good one) If not, then you need a car with a good battery to jump yours off from.

Where is the battery? Once you have jumper cables and a donor vehicle or an emergency battery pack, what’s next? Well, you have to find the battery. In the old days, you just had to look under the hood. With new cars, it’s more of a challenge. Some vehicles have the battery under the seat. (many European cars) And some luxury cars have them hidden in the trunk. (again, European and Genesis also) I recommend looking in your owner’s manual. (that book in the glove box that most don’t look for until there is a problem)

Where do you connect? When the battery is under the hood, it’s easy to see the positive (+) and negative (-) connections. It’s a little harder when the battery is somewhere else. Knowing something like this might happen, many car companies have put terminals under the hood for you to connect to. (again, see owners manual)  If your vehicle has this, you are in good shape. If not than go to the battery itself and find the terminals.

How do you connect? Many don’t think the order you pull off or connect the cables matters, but it does.  

If you are using a jump box: Connect the red clamp to the positive (+) battery post of the battery. Then, connect the black cable the the negative (-) to a big piece of metal on the engine, and you are good to go. When the vehicle turns over and starts, then remove the clamps in reverse order.

If you’re using jumper cables: Connect the red cable/clamp to the positive (+) battery post of the dead battery. (if your battery isn’t under the hood and there is a connector, connect to that) Then connect the black (-) cable/clamp to a ground source (a big piece of metal) on the engine. Then, do the same thing to the donor vehicle. Start and hold the donor vehicle’s engine at high idle (in park of course) for a couple of minutes, and then start the car. If your vehicle turns over slowly, you might have to leave the donor vehicle connected for 5-10 minutes to get a little charge into your battery. This is why you want a heavy gauge set of jumper cables in order to transfer a heavy electrical load.

Finally: I would go to a shop and have your battery load tested asap. The reason is that once a battery has lost more that 50% of its charge, it can be damaged and be problematic from then on. All of this hassle is why many folks just bite the bullet and replace their batteries every two and a half or three years.

I hope sharing this will help some of you. For more information, go to

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Michael Herzing- Lets Talk Wheels