The car battery is integral to the correct working of many parts of your car, and therefore, it needs to be maintained and cared for over its lifetime. If your car battery is not charging correctly, it can cause many issues, which at times may not be clearly attributed to the battery.
A faulty starter motors or alternator will often get the blame when it may be the battery itself that has worn out, or the battery may be in a poor condition with corrosion on its terminals.
This article will cover many of the main problems (and solutions) which you may come across and will often be caused by the car battery.
You want to know the best way to jump start your car or are wondering how to charge a flat car battery. Maybe you would like to know how to remove or replace the battery in your car and are unsure how. We have got it all covered, so read on.
So How Long Does A Car Battery Last?
A question that gets asked often is how long does a car battery last? The answer to this question is dependent on many factors, so instead, let us ask, how long SHOULD a car battery last?
Your average car battery should last between 3 to 5 years in the right conditions and provided it gets looked after. If, for example, your battery is exposed frequently to damp and cold conditions, or you leave your car sitting for weeks on end, allowing the battery to run flat, then your car battery’s lifespan will decrease dramatically.
To improve the lifespan of the battery in your car, you will need to use your car regularly. By starting and driving your car often, you will keep the battery charged and healthy.
If your battery is getting exposed to harsh conditions, you can make sure it has the correct housing and insulation to protect its terminals from corrosion and to help stop the cold weather from draining its charge.
If you feel that you have corrosion around the battery, you can read our post on How To Clean Battery Terminals. We also have a great guide on How To Change A Car Battery and How To Charge A Car Battery At Home.
My Car is Completely Dead – Do I Have A Flat Battery?
If your car is completely dead, it may well be the battery. There are several simple things that you can do to rule out a battery issue.
If the engine attempts to crank but fades after a second or two, or the engine makes no noise at all, this is an indication the battery may be flat. You may also hear a clicking, which would indicate there is not enough power in the battery to start your car.
You may also have an immobilizer issue if the engine does not attempt to start, and there is no engine cranking heard.
Do the windows fail to open or open and close very slowly? Make sure not to get stuck with your windows open if the battery completely dies.
Does the horn fail to sound, or does it appear quiet?
If you can answer yes to any or all of the steps above, it looks like you may have a flat battery.
If your engine is completely dead, but other electricals in the car are working just fine, you may have an immobilizer issue. An immobilizer is there to stop thieves from taking your car, but when it fails, it will prevent you from being able to start your car.
Another issue that can stop your car from starting is a failing starter motor. A jammed or faulty starter motor can give the appearance of a flat battery as the engine will not crank when attempting to start your car.
If you are still unsure whether the battery is at fault, you can also test it with a multimeter.
How To Test A Car Battery
Here is a brief overview of how to test a car battery with a multimeter.
If you do not have a multimeter, you can find a good choice of both digital and analogue multimeters at Amazon such as the one below. Multimeters do not have to be expensive although it depends what you will be using it for. A basic multimeter will do for now.
Below is what I use. A little bit more fancy than what you will need but since owning it, I have found so many more uses for it, especially when reconditioning batteries and general car diagnostics.
KAIWEETS Digital Multimeter
Our Best Multimeters guide is also a great place to learn about multimeters and is an excellent buyers guide that will help you to find a multimeter that suits your needs.
To test your battery with a multimeter, you simply want to hold the prongs of your multimeter onto the terminals of your car’s battery. Doing this will tell you if there is any current or how much current is in the battery.
The readings that you receive through your multimeter will tell you if your car battery is dead, weak, or after attempting to charge your battery, it can tell you if it is holding charge correctly.
Why not read our full guide on How To Test A Car Battery With A Multimeter. It provides easy to follow instructions and will answer many of your questions.
When working with car electrics, multimeters can save so much time in finding faults quickly. Multimeters are not hugely expensive and are an invaluable tool to have in the boot of your car or just kicking around your garage.
How To Jump Start A Car
So you have run through the steps above and know for sure that your battery is dead… So what now? The easiest option to get you back on the road is a jump start. But how do you jump start a car?
There are three main ways to jump start a car, so let’s take a brief look at each method.
How To Jump start a Car Manually
A manual jumpstart is often the most convenient way to bring your dead battery back to life. For an in-depth, step by step guide, please read our How To Jump start A Car Manually guide.
A manual jumpstart will require the help of others to push your vehicle while you sit at the wheel, manually manipulating the clutch. If you are lucky enough to have broken down on a downhill slope, you can perform the manual jumpstart yourself.
Jumpstarting a car that is in motion provides some energy to the battery, and helps the engine to crank, which may be just enough to start your car.
The manual jumpstart method may not work on many automatic vehicles, however, do not rule out this method altogether if you do have an automatic.
How To Jump start A Car With Jumper Cables
To jumpstart a car with jumper cables, you will first need a set of jumper cables, also known as jump leads, and you will need a donor battery. A donor battery is usually already situated in another healthy car but can also be a standalone battery.
The jumper cable method requires you to connect your flat car battery to a healthy battery. If all goes to plan, you will pass enough current to your battery from the donor battery, and that will enable you to start your car.
For a complete step by step instructions, take a look at our How To Jump Start A Car With Jumper Cables guide.
Jump Start A Car With A Portable Jump Starter
I feel that this is the most effective and convenient option for most people.
Firstly you will need to invest in a portable jump starter, also called a battery power pack, jump box, portable power station, booster cables, or portable jump starter.
Portable jump starters vary in price but also have many uses. Some will come with an air compressor, which is a godsend if you find yourself with a slow puncture or may just need to pump up your tires before a long trip.
I personally use the one below which you can find on Amazon or there are many others to choose from. To cut through all of the waffle, why not read our buyers guide here.
DEWALT DXAE20VBB Battery Booster and 12V Jump Starter
Many portable jump starters will also double up as USB chargers for phones and tablets and can be used to power laptops and other devices. Some of the best jump starters have a power inverter with AC and DC sockets, which are perfect for running many of your household items such as fans, hoovers, and kettles.
They can be the ideal companion to anyone that enjoys the outdoors and would like the convenience of a portable power supply.
Buying a portable jump starter is an excellent investment and can be kept in your car until it is needed. I have never needed one before, but since buying one, I haven’t stopped finding uses for it.
We have a great guide on How To Jump Start A Car With A Portable Power Pack. We also have a Best Portable Power Packs buyers guide, reviewing some of our favorites and detailing what we feel are their best and not so good points.
How Long Does It Take To Charge A Car Battery After A Jump?
If you are successful at getting your car started using one of the jump starting methods above while your battery is still in your car, then congratulations. But the next question is, how long does it take to charge a car battery after a jump?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on many factors, such as the alternator output capacity as well as the battery capacity.
The alternator in your car will generate an electrical current that will, in turn, charge your car’s battery. A faulty alternator is often the cause of a battery running flat as it will not supply the electrical current that is necessary to keep the battery in your car topped up.
A healthy car battery can hold its charge for quite a long time, but the various components within your vehicle, such as the air conditioning, water pump, radio, lights, and so on, will increase the drain on your battery.
The alternator will supply enough power to run your car in most circumstances, however as you increase the amount of electricity required by turning on your air conditioning, headlights, radio etc, the alternator will struggle and the excess power required will be taken from the car battery.
An alternator that is failing can often be spotted when the battery light continues to illuminate on your dashboard.
Once you have your car started, you can generally charge your battery while your car is idling, however it is not a very efficient way of charging your car battery.
The best method is to rev your engine to just over its idle, up to around 2000rpm, where the alternator will be running at full power. Turn off anything that does not need to be running, such as headlights, radio, and wipers, so that there is a minimum drain on the battery while it is charging. This will also ensure that most of the energy generated from the alternator will be free to feed the battery.
Regularly relying on your car’s alternator to charge your flat battery is not advisable as it puts much more strain on your car’s alternator than it is designed to take. To charge your battery fully in this way can take around 5 hours of running your vehicle.
Provided that you intend to use your car regularly, you will just need to run your car for around 15-20 minutes. This short-run will provide enough charge to your battery to enable it to start the next time you need it.
Each time you run your car, there will be a cumulative charge added to the battery and provided your vehicle in not underused, this cumulative charge will eventually lead to a fully charged battery.
Can A Car Battery Be Too Dead To Jump Start
If you have tried the methods above and find that your car will not jumpstart, you may be wondering if you are doing something wrong, but can a car battery be too dead to jump start?
If your car battery is completely flat and is not faulty, you may benefit more by using a car battery charger.
This method requires you to remove the battery from your car and connect it to a car battery charger, somewhere within your home or garage, usually in a well-ventilated area. You will need to leave it overnight.
NOCO GENIUS5, 5-Amp Fully-Automatic Smart Charger
A dedicated car battery charger will ensure that your battery will receive a much deeper charge and can bring your battery back to full health, provided that the battery in question has no defects.
Due to the way that car batteries are designed, you will often find that each time the battery is allowed to run completely flat, there may be some damage caused internally to the battery cells, and this can reduce the amount of charge that your battery can hold.
Car battery chargers are useful at keeping underused batteries in better health by supplying a trickle charge. This trickle charge will keep a battery topped up without overcharging so that it is kept in optimum health until it is needed.
Why not check out our Best Car Battery Charger buyers guide, which reviews some of our favorites and will give a thorough overview of each one.
All of the above tips should help you to get your car started or should help you bring your battery back to life, but if your car battery is old or in poor condition, you are going to have problems long term.
You will need to jump start your car regularly, or you will need to remove your car battery and charge it overnight frequently, and this will quickly become very bothersome. You may decide you will be better off biting the bullet and buy yourself a new car battery. Alternatively, you may even want to learn how to recondition a car battery.
Buying A Car Battery Replacement
Buying a car battery replacement is relatively easy, provided that you know what you are doing. There are questions such as:
And the list goes on.
Take a look at our Buying A Car Battery Replacement guide.
You will find out everything that you will need to know when buying a new car battery. We explain about 12V or 24V batteries. You will find out the pitfalls to avoid when buying a new car battery, and we will also provide some of our favorite choices in the form of a simple buyers guide and product review.
Don’t forget to check out our step by step guide on How To Change A Car Battery.
New car batteries can vary significantly in cost. Buying a cheap car battery is not always the best idea. However, it is not always necessary to pay over the odds.
One final option which I have saved until last but not least, but it is definitely not the least effective, is to recondition your car battery.
If your car battery has died and you have been unable to revive it, then battery reconditioning is a great option. The EZ Battery Reconditioning System can show you how to recondition a car battery that won’t hold charge.
The EZ Battery Reconditioning System can show you how to bring back to life many of the batteries that you use every day, including car batteries, laptop batteries, phone batteries, as well as your standard AAA, AA, and so on.
If you are wondering whether it is even possible to bring a dead battery back to life or fix a dead car battery, then you will be amazed at what the EZ battery reconditioning guide can teach you.
When I came across the EZ Battery Reconditioning System, I was initially skeptical whether the methods detailed would work, but I have so far saved hundreds of dollars by reconditioning batteries that I would otherwise discard, and this is also an excellent way to help protect our environment. You can read my personal review of the system here, or you can go directly to the EZ Battery Reconditioning System here.
The EZ Battery Reconditioning System is hosted on Clickbank, which is a leader in informational products. Clickbank offers a 60 day money-back guarantee, which demonstrates how committed they are to hosting quality products.
The methods used in the EZ Battery Reconditioning System are so simple that you can even show your family and friends how to recondition their batteries. The most common batteries are covered in the system, and reconditioning can increase battery life by quite a bit. The only real downside to this system is that you cannot recondition batteries an unlimited amount of times, and you will eventually need to discard the battery.
Is this really a problem? Definitely not! You can buy cheap worn out batteries for next to nothing and recondition them to use yourself. Or sell them on Ebay as reconditioned…. Genius!!
Check out the short video below to see what the EZ Battery reconditioning guide is all about.