When a car battery suddenly dies it can be pretty frustrating. One day it appears to be okay, then the next it's dead without any warning. Batteries usually die because they have come to the end of their lifespan (which is approximately five years), or some electrical components have been left switched on.
Why do car batteries die?
If you find yourself needing to keep re-charging your battery frequently, then your car could have a defective alternator. Faulty alternators literally allow the battery to be drained of life. The job of the alternator is to keep the battery charged when the car is moving. In fact, car batteries charge everything that is electrical on the vehicle, so if you have left any of the following on overnight: DVD players, headlights or interior lights, then you could easily experience a flat battery in the morning.
Frequently starting and stopping during a short drive may also cause car batteries to lose their power.
Fluctuating temperatures can also make a chemical imbalance within the power. However, today car batteries are encased to protect them from this with an insulation jacket, and so prevents them from going too hot, or too cold.
Occasionally, battery cables can become dusty, so they may need a clean.
Methods of recharging car batteries
There are two ways for recharging your car battery. Method one is by jump-starting the dead battery. This is done by using jump leads to connect to another car's battery and passing a charge through to charge your battery. Breakdown firms use this concept when they give the battery a powerboost super charge from the back of their vans on the roadside. Method two is removing the device to re-charge overnight. There is no recharging method three, but you could replace old for new when you're certain its lifespan has come to an end. Before you make this decision make sure the water levels in the battery are correct and that only distilled water is used to top it up.
Jump starting dead car batteries:
Check the dead battery for cracks and acid leaks, dispose of it and replace with a new one if you can see any type of malfunction. Any of these signs of wear can be dangerous to yourself and your car. To begin recharging, firstly, protect yourself by wearing safety clothing and rubber gloves. Proceed by cleaning the battery and any corroded cables with a wire brush.
Position the functioning car opposite or alongside the non-functioning car. Both cars need to be close enough together for the jump start cables to hook up. Turn both engines off and open the bonnets, or wherever the batteries are located. Some car batteries are under the seat or flooring in the cabin area.
Locate the negative (- / black) and positive (+ / red) terminals. Now connect the positive jumper with the positive terminal and the negative jumper with the negative terminal. Proceed to connect the other negative jumper to the negative terminal on the working car. Now connect the jumper to a grounded metal component in the engine area that is free of dirt.
To start the charging process by turning the functioning car on and wait for approximately five minutes for the charge to run through the cables. After five minutes has passed, turn on the non-functioning car. If the car does not start, then allow another five minutes for a charge to build up.
Disconnect the jumper cables in reverse order of connecting them to avoid sparks. The functioning car can be switched off, but the non-functioning car will need to idle or driven for at least 20 minutes. This allows the alternator to recharge the dead battery.
Charging dead car batteries overnight:
Most chargers operate most types of car batteries except for gel batteries. It is better to remove the dead battery from the car, do this safely wearing appropriate clothing.
Clean all battery terminals prior to connecting cables. Position the charger away from the battery, remove the cell caps and then fill with distilled water if necessary. Connect the cables and terminals as described above. The cell caps need to be left off to allow the gases to escape during charging.
Turn on the charger and leave overnight to ensure a full charge. Once charged, dissemble the charger, replace the caps and reassemble the battery back into the car.
Please note: In the secondhand market a Battery is worth around £7.50 even if it no longer works. If you wanted to source a working secondhand battery from UK Breakers you would expect to pay £10 plus. A new battery will cost £40 plus depending on the make and model of the vehicle.