Do You Need A Jump Start Or A New Car Battery?

A customer was unsure if he needed a jump start or a new car battery.

A customer’s dead battery after a car battery installation. The question was “Do I need a jump start or a new battery?”

Jump Start v. New Battery

When your car decides not to start, how do you know if it is a battery problem, if a jump start will help, or if you need a new car battery?  Read on my fellow driver, because it is only a matter of time before you will need this information.

Batteries are not fail proof.  In fact, after about (2) years your battery will start to lose the ability to hold a charge from your alternator.  Then like a thief in the night, you will go out to start your car – and nothing happens.  No, turning your key twice does not help, but it reaffirms your worst thoughts that your car won’t start.  Before you let lose a string of foul words and begin to scream, here are a few tips to see what your next move should be.

First, turn your headlights on to see if they power on.  This is to see how much power you have in your battery.  Next, pop you hood ( or your trunk ) and take a look at the battery and the cables connecting to the battery.  Most vehicles have the battery under the hood, maybe in a black box, and some cars have them in the trunk under the trunk floor.  If the cables look corroded or lose you will need to correct that situation first.

Corroded Battery Terminal / Connection

Example of Corroded Battery Terminal / Connection

If your battery terminals or connections are corroded you can easily clean them using a wire brush.  Auto part stores carry a battery terminal brush for a few dollars, but if you have a wire brush you can save the few dollars to buy you boss a coffee for being late.  Take the brush and wisp away the corrosion buildup.

Check the connections, and see if they are lose.  If the connections are lose, tighten them up and proceed to troubleshoot further.  From here, see if the battery is leaking any fluid.  If all is well at this point, you will need to test the current amperage (power) in the battery.  This uses a small and inexpensive tester that can be obtained at any auto part store.  The battery rating should be about 12.5 /12.6.  If it is lower, suspect the battery needs to be charged or replaced at this point.  If it is below 12.4 you will most likely need a new battery, or a great pair of walking shoes (from experience).

Whether to jump start, in any case you can jump start your car, and for the most case get to where you are going (unless – yes unless – you have an alternator problem… More money).  If you get a jump start, it will only be worth while if you left something on in the car by accident (gps, headlights, radio, etc…) or you are going straight to a location to purchase a new car battery.  If it is a battery problem, you will probably be stranded once again when you turn your car off (again from experience and knowledge).  After you get a jump start you can let it run a little bit and then kill the engine (not litterally).  Try to restart it.  If the same problem returns you will most likely need to purchase a new battery.  Take your car to a local auto part store and ask them to check both the battery and the alternator (just in case).  It is free and takes only a few moments.

Batteries usually will go bad when there is a temperature change, or sever heat or cold weather.  Most of the time, my customers batteries go out at the start of winter.  Batteries after a period of time have less sulfuric acid and more water inside.  The cold weather freezes the water inside the battery and turns it into a state taxed paper weight.

I hope this helps.  If you need any type of roadside assistance in San Antonio, Texas, please call us at (210) 598-7300.  EZ Lockout & Roadside Service is our company name, and we’re here to help you anytime day or night.

About Paul

Born and raised in the Great State of Texas. Completed High School in Midland, Texas, and went on to study Pre-Med for adult psychopathology at San Antonio College. During attendance at SAC (San Antonio College), EZ Lockout & Roadside Assistance was created to assist with funding for college. The business demand grew, and Paul took running the business as a full-time occupation. EZ Lockout & Roadside Assistance now provides San Antonio Roadside Assistance that they can depend on.