You open the door to your car, slide in behind the steering wheel and fasten your seat belt. You adjust your mirrors and your seat, and then place your key in the ignition. Nothing happens. You try it again. Still nothing. Or you may hear a rapid clicking sound. Either way, your car is not going to start and you'll be late for work, school or your appointment.
Sooner or later, most drivers experience battery problems. If you're diligent, you've avoided problems by keeping your current battery in good shape or replacing it before it fails. That doesn't matter to you right now -- you need to determine the cause and come up with a solution. And as soon as possible.
Read on and we'll take a look at just what may be ailing your car battery.
1. Dead silence. You turn the ignition key and no sound is detected. At this point you need to either pop the hood or lift the trunk lid and locate your battery. If you find corrosion, you'll need to take a screwdriver to clean the point where the terminal post and connection meet. Corrosion can keep your battery from starting as can a separated contact.
2. Rapid clicking. Silence may be golden, but a rapid clicking can be especially unnerving. Likely, your battery is dead and may be beyond redemption. You'll still want to check the connection and try starting your car again.
3. Cranking, but no start. Your ignition is doing its job, but the engine simply will not turn over. At this point, you can try to revive the battery by jump starting it. Before you connect your battery with another car's battery, make sure that the headlights are off as well as the air-conditioning, audio system and anything else in your car that can drain power.
If your battery is past its useful age, then replace. With your new battery, you'll be informed of its general lifespan by your battery retailer and that is typically three, four or five years.
Now for some tips on how to keep your battery strong:
1. Keep it clean. Batteries are easy to install and just as easy to forget. At least twice yearly, clean the battery by removing the clamps and removing dirt, debris and oxidation. A poor or dirty connection will weaken your battery's charge.
2. Keep it warm. Garaging your vehicle can keep your battery from wearing out faster. If you cannot garage your car, then consider wrapping it with an insulator. Your auto parts store sells what you need.
3. Check the battery tray. A car's battery tray keeps everything secure, but it can easily become disconnected or rot through if acid spills and corrodes it. While checking the connection, make sure that the tray is secure too.
Check under your hood and regular intervals and make battery inspection a part of your maintenance regimen. You check you oil and transmission fluid, you top off your windshield fluid reservoir and you add water to your radiator. Include your battery in the check up and you'll reduce the chances that you'll someday be left stranded.