How to Bring a Car Battery Back to Life

by Cathy Lanski

Dead car batteries are always an unpleasant surprise. Whether you left your dome light on overnight or just own a battery near the end of its life, it's normally possible to get your battery to hold a charge, at least long enough to get you to a service station. Bringing a dead battery back to life is relatively easy with some basic equipment and a willing partner. It's worth a try to use jumper cables to get your car back on the road.


Open your hood, propping it carefully. Have your partner pull his car face-to-face with your car or next to the battery side of your vehicle. Be sure that the cars are not touching. Open the hood of the other vehicle.


Turn both vehicles off. Attach one cable to the positive terminal of the partner car. Attach the other end to the positive terminal of the dead battery. Attach the other cable to the negative terminal of the partner car and the other end to an unpainted metal part of the dead vehicle. Be sure that the cables will be clear of any parts that will begin moving when the car starts.


Standing clear of both engine areas, start the partner car. Allow it to run for five minutes. Start the disabled car and allow it to run for a few minutes to begin charging. If the disabled car will not start, wait a few minutes and try again. If it still does not work, call for a tow truck.


Remove the cables from the terminals in the reverse order in which you attached them.


Drive or idle the car for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the alternator to recharge the battery.


If your battery is more than three years old, it may be at the end of its life and in need of replacement. If it is less than three years old, consider taking it to an auto parts store and request that it load-test your battery to determine its condition.


  • check If the terminals are look flaky or white, they could be corroded. Clean them with a wire brush if possible before attaching the jumper cables.

Items you will need

About the Author

Cathy Lanski is a Buffalo, New York based writer who has been writing for more than twenty years on widely ranging topics from parenting to real estate to concerts. Her work has appeared in "Buffalo Rising," "Buffalo News," and "Oatmeal Studios." Lanski holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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