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What to do if the car battery is dead

1. “Light a cigarette” from a donor

The most reliable way to revive a car with a dead battery is to use the energy of a functioning car. For this purpose, it is necessary to place the second car side by side (directly “bumper-to-bumper”), open the hoods, and connect the batteries of both cars with wires. Make no mistake! 

The correct procedure is: 

  • Turn off the donor’s engine and turn off the ignition.
  • Connect the red wire first to the positive terminal of the donor, then to the discharged battery.
  • Connect one end of the black wire to the “mass” of your car (for example, to the engine cylinder block or body) and the other end to the negative terminal of the donor.
  • You can start the car. After starting, you must disconnect the wires strictly in the reverse order – this order will reduce the chance of a short circuit if the wires are handled carelessly.
  • If the battery is dead on the road, “light from a donor” is the most reliable way. 
  • Push or tow.

Both options are only suitable for cars with manual transmission and are based on the principle of turning the engine from the wheels. All you need is a second serviceable car and a strong rope, but two adults are enough to accelerate. Source

The procedure is as follows: 

  • Connect the two cars with a tow rope, turn on the ignition, squeeze the clutch and engage the third gear without releasing the clutch.
  • The towing driver should pull the rope, smoothly move off and accelerate the cars to a speed of about 20 km/h.
  • The driver of the towed vehicle must release the clutch smoothly and, if successful, signal the master to stop.
  • Approximately the same rules apply for helpers, but the speed will be lower, so several attempts may be necessary.

3. Use a rope or rope

A front- or rear-wheel drive car with a manual transmission can be started in another exotic way, relying on the strength of one person. You need a long flat rope and a jack.

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You need to fix the car with the parking brake, lift it with a jack on the side of one of the two drive wheels and turn the wheels out to the side.

Wrap a rope around the wheel so that by pulling the rope towards yourself you make the wheel rotate counterclockwise.

Put the car in third gear, switch on the ignition and try to spin the wheel with the rope.

If the engine can be started, the wheel will rotate on its own, and you will need to immediately engage the neutral gear. The axle differential will transmit all torque to the wheel hanging in the air, which prevents spontaneous movement. 4.

Use a battery charger or booster

Start-chargers come in a variety of types, from large industrial to compact pocket-sized boosters. The most powerful variants are connected to the mains, but can also work completely autonomously. It is enough to connect the device terminals to the battery, turn on the ignition and start the engine.

The pocket booster works the same way as a spare battery for a cell phone, and you need to charge it in advance. Such a device produces a high current, but for a long time its charge is not enough, so it can help only in cases where the car is serviceable, and to start the engine is not enough at all. In addition, boosters can not always help with starting large-volume engines and diesels. Using it is just as simple: you need to connect the “crocodiles” booster to the battery terminals, turn on the ignition and start the engine.

In case the battery runs out, it’s a good idea to have a pocket booster with you 

5. Use a powerful battery charger

Remember the huge garage battery chargers? Such a unit can help, but there is one nuance: it will not be able to charge the battery quickly, but in a relatively short time it can transfer enough energy for a successful start.

The main thing to do is to set the charger to a high current of up to 10% of the battery capacity. For example, a 55 amp-hour battery should be charged with a current of 5.5 amps. Under these conditions, the vehicle battery will be charged in just 15 minutes.

Important: Charge the battery by disconnecting it from the vehicle’s onboard power system. In addition, this method of charging negatively affects the life of the battery.

6. Using the battery from a screwdriver

There are also more non-standard ways to start the motor. For example, if the battery of a screwdriver or other tool has a voltage greater than 12 volts, it can also be used to help.

The way to proceed is as follows: 

Connect wires to the battery terminals or make an adapter for standard wires from improvised materials.

Large starting current such battery is not able to provide, but for a few minutes, it can slightly replenish the charge of the car battery.

After 15-20 minutes try to start the engine. 

In a critical situation to recharge the battery will help the battery screwdriver or other power tools 

7. Warming the battery with water

Have you heard the advice, that the battery should be warmed up with a short light of headlights before start-up? Well, this is nothing more than a baize. But it is possible to warm the battery at home – it gives a noticeable effect in the cold season.

It is necessary to take off battery, take it home, and put it in the bathtub or deep basin which should be filled with hot water up to the level of the top cover of the battery. In 15 minutes the battery will be warm, and after half an hour of warming, even a nearly discharged battery will be able to give enough current to start the engine.

8. Use alcohol

The most exotic way to revive a dead battery involves the use of alcohol-containing liquids. These are poured into the battery banks and cause a chemical reaction. This method does not work with maintenance-free batteries.

It is best to use dry wine with a low alcohol concentration and no sugar. Stronger alcohol will have to be diluted. Thirty ml of wine is poured into each battery pack. The chemical reaction will lower the internal resistance of the battery, the battery voltage will become higher, and the motorist will have a chance to start the engine. Alas, after this procedure, the battery will have to be thrown away.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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