If you haven't driven one of your vehicles for a while, you may end up coming into the garage, trying to start it and realising that the car batteries are dead. What's going on? What should you do? How can you prevent it from happening again? Here's what you need to know:
1. Jump the Battery
First and foremost, you need to jump the battery. If you have cables and another car, it's pretty easy to do yourself. Otherwise, you can buy cables relatively inexpensively from petrol stations and car parts stores, and you can ask a friend or neighbour to let you use their car.
If neither of those options appeal to you, a car service company will come out and jump the battery for you.
2. Make Sure Nothing Is Draining the Battery
Before your jump the battery, make sure that nothing is draining it. Are the headlights or interior lights on in the vehicle? Are there any auxiliary cables or charging cords that need to be unplugged?
If those elements are running, that can quickly drain the battery of any vehicle, and that's probably why your battery is dead. If you don't find anything like that, your battery probably just died from lack of use.
3. Give the Battery a Long Charge
In some cases, you may attach the cables and try to start your vehicle to no avail. If the engine doesn't turn over on the first try, don't panic. Just keep the cables connected and consider revving the engine of the other vehicle.
If the battery has been dead for a while, it may just need some extra help. Let the energy flow between the cables for several minutes, and then try again.
Once your vehicle finally starts, don't turn it off. As the car runs, the battery will get even more of a charge. Ideally, you should take it on a long drive or let it idle in front of your house for a while.
4. Consider a Trickle Charge
If the battery has been completely discharged whilst in storage, you may want to try a trickle charger instead of driving it around. A trickle charger is a small device available from most auto parts stores. Basically, you connect it to your battery, and as suggested by the name, it trickles charge to your battery.
5. Drive the Car More Often
Unfortunately, in some cases, you may use the trickle charger or take your car on a long drive, but in spite of those efforts, the battery may still refuse to work the next time you try to start your car. In those cases, you need a new battery. After that, you need to remember to start your vehicle more often. Letting it sit for too long can be very hard on the battery.