What to Do If Your Car Battery Dies While You’re on the Road

Every car owner experiences car trouble at some point. It’s just one of those inevitable things in life. However, one of the worst things that can happen is having your car battery die while you’re on the road. Now that’s just bad luck!

Fortunately, I’m here to tell you that there are ways to deal with this problem, so there’s no need to panic just yet!

What to do if your car battery dies while you are on the road.

Car Battery Health

For reference, a good car battery can last up to seven years. However, that’s the best-case scenario.

On average, car batteries stay healthy for 4–5 years. But let’s be honest; most people don’t even consider replacing their battery until it’s completely dead. That’s why there’s a good chance you’ll be in the middle of the road when that happens.

Before you do anything, consider why your battery is dead. Have you been driving your car on a daily basis, or do you drive it from time to time? Has the battery been damaged in some sort of way? Did you leave the radio or headlights on?

There are, in fact, several ways to damage a car battery, and most of them are preventable. But if you’re already facing a dead battery, then it’s too late to talk about prevention. You need a solution that will get you off the road as soon as possible.

Dealing With a Dead Car Battery

Keep in mind that once your battery dies, you won’t be able to make a permanent fix. You will need to get it to a car service as soon as it’s up and running. The smartest thing you can do is to make some quick fixes with one of the following methods.

Jumper Cables

The first thing you should do is get out your jumper cables. You will also need either a battery booster or a second vehicle in order for this method to work.

If you don’t have a battery booster at hand, look around to see if someone is willing to stop and lend you a hand by giving your battery a boost.

However, keep two things in mind:

  1. Do not under any circumstances try to boost your battery if it’s frozen or damaged in any way.
  2. Be careful how you attach the clips:

Red clips: One clip need to be attached to the positive terminal of the battery, and the other one to the other car’s positive terminal.

Black clips: One of the black clips should be attached to the negative terminal on the other car’s battery, and the other one to the metal surface on your car.

Once your car starts, make sure you keep your engine on. You’ll probably be inpatient, but leave it running for about 30 minutes in order for it to fully charge. If you forget to do so, you’ll need to repeat the entire process again. 

Distilled Water

First, turn off the car engine, then remove the vent caps from the battery. Thoroughly check the water levels in the battery cells. If they are low, add distilled water to the battery until it reaches below the bottom part of the cell inspection hole.

Note: Do not add more water than is needed, and do not use anything other than distilled water.

Magnesium Sulfate

Magnesium sulfate is another excellent option that will help dissolve lead build-up in your car battery. And luckily, you can find magnesium sulfate or Epsom salt in any grocery store.

Obviously, that is only a temporary fix, but it should help you get your car off the road.

Aspirin and Distilled Water

Most people have a box or two of aspirin somewhere in their car. The good news is that it can temporarily revive your battery by adjusting the electrolyte levels.

You will need twelve tablets (350 mg or 500 mg) and six ounces of warm distilled water. Crush the aspirin and dissolve it in the water, then pour it equally into the battery cells until the water covers the plates.

Don’t start the engine for at least one hour. After that, your battery should be able to work long enough to get you to a mechanic.

How to Keep Your Car Battery Healthy

Ultimately, the best way to make sure your battery stays healthy is with proper maintenance. Here’s what you need to do.

Keep Your Car Battery Clean

A clean car battery is a happy car battery, so check its lid every once in a while to make sure it’s free of dirt and grime.

You can clean it with an old toothbrush and some baking powder. Also, remember to rinse it afterward.

Check Your Battery Regularly

Regardless of whether or not your car is running smoothly, it’s a good idea to check on your battery at least once a week. Test the output voltage level (if you have a car battery tester), and check it for any damage.

Summertime Car Battery Maintenance

Understandably, there is a difference between caring for your car battery in winter and summer. In fact, it’s a common misconception that the cold is harsher on the battery than the heat.

Here are a few simple ways to keep your car battery running smoothly throughout the summer.

Watch Where You Park

It can be difficult to find the ideal parking space throughout the year, and during the summer, it’s especially challenging to find one in the shade. However, try to locate a spot that won’t leave your car exposed to the sun for long periods, or else the heat will drain your battery in no time.

Pro tip: It may be a good idea to consider investing in either a portable garage or a canopy that will shelter your car from the harsh heat.   

Take Longer Car Rides

Every time you start your car, the alternator needs time to recharge the car battery. The more short trips you take, the longer your battery needs to recover. Try to plan out your day so that you take one longer trip rather than several short ones.

Get Rid of Excessive Accessories

Navigation systems, phone chargers, mp3 players, and other similar devices drain power from your car battery. If your car is full of these devices, consider which ones are absolutely necessary and get rid of the rest. Your battery will be grateful.

Invest in a Car Battery Charger

A car battery charger is a perfect tool to keep your battery from dying while you’re on vacation or if you just don’t plan on using your car every day. You may think it’s an unnecessary expense; however, you’d be amazed at how much it can make a difference.

How to Know There’s Something Wrong With Your Car Battery

A car battery is basically the life force of your vehicle. If it’s dead, it’s time to face facts — you’re not going anywhere

Before you set out on a long road trip, check the following:

  1. Dome light: One of the easiest ways to see whether or not your car battery is working is by checking the dome light. If it doesn’t turn on as soon as you open the door, you should immediately check your battery. Additionally, if it does turn on but it’s dimmer than usual, your battery is most likely weak and needs to be charged.
  2. Headlights: Headlights that don’t work are usually an indicator of a blown fuse or that something is wrong with your car battery. The same thing applies to your radio.
  3. Ignition: If you turn on the ignition and your car doesn’t start, there’s a good chance your battery is completely dead. On the other hand, you may just be low on fuel, but it’s better to check your battery as well.

It’s important to note that if you’re not 100% sure that your battery is fully functional, you should postpone your road trip and take it to a mechanic instead. 

Emergency Essentials

In order to prepare for the worst-case scenario, you will need to buy the following emergency essentials:

  1. Jumper cables
  2. Triangle reflectors
  3. Coolant
  4. Flashlight
  5. Gloves

If your car battery happens to die at the worst possible moment, these essentials will save you from having to spend the night in the middle of nowhere. But before you pop the hood, here’s what you need to do:

  • Check if there are any oncoming vehicles before stepping out of your car.
  • Once the coast is clear, place the triangles in front of and behind your car.

Buy the Right Jumper Cables

Since jumper cables can be anywhere from 10 to 20 ft, most people tend to go for the longer ones. Although they may seem more convenient, keep in mind that the longer the cable, the longer the energy will need to travel from the cable to the battery. I recommend you buy a 15 ft cable.

Additionally, the gauge of the cable is also critical the lower the gauge, the better. Ideally, look for a gauge 6.

Conclusion

Cars are convenient machines that have been getting us from one place to another for over a century. The heart of every car is the battery, and so it requires some maintenance in order to stay healthy. Unfortunately, sometimes, it’s inevitable for it to die.

On the bright side, a car battery can be replaced. So if you find yourself in a situation where you cannot start your vehicle, follow my simple tips, and you should be able to revive the battery long enough to get yourself to the nearest mechanic.

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