What to do when a car battery is flat

Flat car batteries are never convenient. You’re trying to rush to work or meet friends and the car just won’t start. A dead battery can happen to anyone at any time, but it can be even more frustrating when you don’t know what to do to fix the issue.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help jumpstart your car’s battery or recharge it so that you can quickly hit the road again. But before that, it’s important to understand the common causes of a flat car battery so that you can avoid getting in the same situation again in the future.

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This article will guide you through everything you need to know about what to do when a car battery is flat, including the common causes and how to jumpstart or recharge your battery.

Check the battery

1. Look for signs of damage

1. Look for signs of damage

Inspect the battery for any signs of damage such as cracks or leaks. If you notice any damage, do not attempt to jump-start the car and replace the battery as soon as possible.

2. Test the battery voltage

Use a voltmeter to test the battery voltage. A fully charged battery should have a voltage reading between 12.5 to 12.8 volts. If the reading is below 12.2 volts, the battery may need to be charged or replaced.

3. Check the battery terminals

Make sure the battery terminals are clean and free of corrosion. If there is corrosion, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean the terminals. You can also use a wire brush to scrub the terminals.

4. Check the battery water level

4. Check the battery water level

If the battery is not a sealed unit, you should check the water level. If the water level is low, add distilled water. Do not overfill the cells.

5. Have the alternator checked

5. Have the alternator checked

A bad alternator can also cause a flat battery. Have a mechanic check the alternator to make sure it is functioning properly.

Remember to always take safety precautions when handling a car battery. Wear gloves and eye protection when handling the battery and avoid smoking or open flames near the battery.

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Jumpstart the car

Jumpstart the car

What you need:

What you need:

  • A set of jumper cables
  • Another car with a working battery



  1. Park the working car next to the one with the dead battery. Make sure the two are close enough for the jumper cables to reach both batteries.
  2. Turn off both cars and make sure their keys are out of the ignition.
  3. Locate the batteries. In most cars, the battery can be found under the hood. Check the car’s manual if you’re not sure.
  4. Attach one end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal on the dead battery. Make sure the cable is attached securely.
  5. Attach the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal on the working battery.
  6. Attach one end of the black jumper cable to the negative terminal on the working battery.
  7. Attach the other end of the black jumper cable to an unpainted metal surface on the car with the dead battery. This will ground the circuit and reduce the risk of sparks.
  8. Start the working car and let the engine run for a few minutes. This will charge the dead battery.
  9. Try starting the car with the dead battery. If it starts, leave both cars running for a few minutes to charge the battery further.
  10. Disconnect the cables in the reverse order you attached them, starting with the black cable on the dead battery.

Note: If the car doesn’t start after a few tries, the battery may need to be replaced. Also, always handle jumper cables with care and keep them away from moving parts in both cars while they are running.

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Prevent flat car battery

Turn off all electrical devices

Before leaving your car, make sure to turn off all electrical devices, including lights, radio, air conditioning, and any other device that uses electricity. This will help prevent the battery from draining, ensuring that you do not encounter a flat battery when you return to your car.

Drive your car regularly

A car battery is designed to be recharged by the alternator while you are driving. If you leave your car parked for an extended period of time without driving it, it can cause the battery to lose its charge. To prevent this from happening, try to drive your car for at least 15 minutes a day.

Check your battery regularly

Check your battery regularly

Make it a habit to check your car battery regularly, especially if it is an older battery. Look for signs of corrosion or damage to the cables or terminals. If your battery is more than three years old, consider having it tested by a professional to ensure that it is still holding a charge.

Use a battery tender

Use a battery tender

If you have a car that you don’t drive very often, consider investing in a battery tender. This is a device that will keep your battery charged even if the car is not being used. It can be plugged into the wall and connected directly to your car’s battery.

Avoid extreme temperatures

Avoid extreme temperatures

Extreme temperatures can have a negative impact on your car battery. If you live in an area with extreme heat or cold, try to park your car in a garage or shaded area. This will help prevent your battery from losing its charge due to extreme temperatures.

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What are the signs of a flat car battery?

The most common signs of a flat car battery are dim headlights, slow engine cranking, dashboard warning lights and unusual sounds when you turn on the ignition.

Can you jump-start a car with a flat battery?

Yes, you can jump-start a car with a flat battery. You will need some jumper cables and another vehicle with a charged battery. Connect the cables properly and start the engine of the other vehicle. Let it run for a few minutes and try to start your car.

How long does it take to jump-start a car?

It usually takes about 10-15 minutes to jump-start a car. However, the time may vary depending on various factors such as the age and condition of your battery, your car’s engine size and the weather conditions.

Are there any risks of jump-starting a car?

Yes, there are some risks involved in jump-starting a car. If you connect the cables improperly, you may cause damage to the electrical system of your car. Also, if your battery is too old or damaged, it may explode during the process.

What if jump-starting doesn’t work?

If jump-starting doesn’t work, you may need to replace your battery. Alternatively, you can try to recharge it using a battery charger or driving your car for a long distance to allow the alternator to charge the battery.

How long does a car battery last?

A car battery usually lasts for 3-5 years depending on its quality, usage and maintenance. However, some factors such as extreme temperatures, frequent short trips and leaving lights on can shorten its lifespan.

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Can you prevent a car battery from going flat?

Yes, you can prevent a car battery from going flat by taking some precautions such as turning off all lights and electrical devices when you park your car, driving your car regularly for long distances, checking and cleaning the battery terminals and keeping it well-maintained.


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Ashley Gray

As a female driver, it can be daunting to face the problem of a flat car battery. This article provided helpful tips to handle the situation and options available such as jump-starting and calling for roadside assistance. I appreciate the easy-to-follow steps and safety precautions provided to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience. The recommendation to regularly check the battery’s condition and charge level is also helpful in preventing future incidents. Overall, this article is informative and practical for any driver, especially for women who may feel less confident in handling car troubles.

Patrick Brown

As a male driver, I found this article on what to do when a car battery is flat extremely helpful. The tips provided were clear and easy to follow, which can come in handy when you’re in a rush or faced with an emergency situation. One thing I particularly liked was how the article covered preventive measures, such as checking the battery’s condition regularly, to avoid getting stranded with a dead battery. Another noteworthy point was the step-by-step guide on using jumper cables to jumpstart the car, as I had always found it quite daunting. Overall, this article was a great resource for anyone who wants to be prepared and self-sufficient on the road. It’s definitely a must-read for all drivers, especially those who frequently travel long distances or in remote areas. I would highly recommend it!

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William Johnson

As a frequent driver, I always make sure my car is in good shape. However, one thing that always stays at the back of my mind is what happens if my car battery goes flat. After reading this article on “what to do when a car battery is flat,” I feel a lot more confident and prepared. The step-by-step guide on jump-starting a car battery is easy to follow and relatable. I appreciate the tips on how to maintain a car battery properly and prevent it from going flat in the first place. Overall, this article is a must-read for every driver, especially if you’re a novice driver like me. It’s informative, insightful, and can save you a lot of time and trouble when you’re on the road.

James Smith

As a man who often drives long distances, I found this article incredibly useful. It can be stressful when you’re out on the road and your car battery suddenly dies. However, the tips and tricks offered here make troubleshooting easier than ever. I particularly appreciated the step-by-step breakdowns of how to jump-start a car and replace a dead battery. The clear language and helpful diagrams made the whole process seem much less daunting. Additionally, the emphasis on preventative measures like regular maintenance and avoiding overuse of electronic devices is important and often overlooked. Overall, this article is a valuable resource for anyone who owns a car and wants to be prepared for any battery-related issues that may arise.

Charles Davis

As a male reader, I found this article very useful. I have had my fair share of experiences with a flat car battery, and it can be quite frustrating. The article provided some practical tips on what to do in such situations, ranging from jump-starting the car to replacing the battery entirely. I particularly liked the recommendation to check the battery connection terminals, which is something I often overlook. The step-by-step guide on how to jump-start a car also came in handy, as it can be quite daunting for some people. I would suggest that the article could benefit from including some basic precautions to take when handling car batteries, such as wearing gloves and eye protection. Overall, this article is a great resource for anyone who finds themselves stranded with a flat car battery, and I highly recommend it.

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