You turn the key, and you just hear 'click'. Is your car battery dead? Maybe not. Here's a quick DIY repair that may save you some $. (If you suspect the alternator may not be charging, learn how to test an alternator here.
This happened to a friend of mine who had just replaced their battery recently, and I was able to fix it in about 10 minutes. I opened the hood and could see right away that the problem.
Is the car battery dead? No.
Car batteries last about 3 years, in my experience. Open the hood of you car and find the battery. If the above photo is what one or both of your battery cables look like, get some wrenches out.
What we have here is corrosion that isn't allowing the cable to connect with the battery in an ideal way. And its real easy to fix. Get these items:
- Wrenches, pliers, screwdriver, and a socket set if available.
- Baking soda & plastic bowl
- WD-40 spray
- Wirebrush or old toothbrush
We want to remove the battery cable from the battery. You may need to spray the nut & bolt with WD-40, then loosen it with a wrench or socket. Be careful not to strip the bolt or wrench off the battery terminal. Holding the cable with the pliers may help. A screwdriver can help lift the clamp off the battery. DO NOT allow the tools to touch any metal on the car when removing the RED positive cable. It can spark. Not the end of the world, but please avoid doing this.
Mix a tablespoon of baking soda into a shallow plastic bowl that has water in it. The measurements are not critical. Put the terminal end of the cable into the solution. It will bubble. If you can't get the cable in, brush the baking soda-water mix onto the terminal end with a toothbrush.
Scrub the cable to remove the corrosion, the crumbly blue stuff. Then wipe the cable ends with a paper towel to finish up the job and remove the moisture.
Clean up the battery itself as well, scrubbing with the solution, and wiping down with a paper towel. Its ok if the solution runs down the side of the battery.
Replace the cables on the battery, tighten down the clamps.
Then do this KEY thing: Spray the terminal ends and clamps with WD-40. This will remove the last bits of water and protect the connection.
Also, consider keeping a battery booster or jumper cables in your car. These compact battery boosters are quite good, or consider getting the large one to have on hand if you have a big SUV or truck. Here are a few suggested models:
Compact Battery Booster (affiliate link)
Large Size Jump Starter (affiliate link)
So, next time you ask yourself, is my car battery dead? Open the hood and check this before buying a new battery.