Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Do I need a new battery here?

I am having trouble with my car that I?m hoping you can help me diagnose and solve. Here is what happened:

Day 1: Came out to find the car wouldn?t start and the battery power was obviously low (dim lights? etc.). I jumped the car, started just fine and ran it for 10 min or so to charge the battery.

Day 2: Started the car in the morning before I left for work. No problem. Then a few hours later my wife goes to start the car: it?s dead again, won?t start, low battery power.

Day 3: I figure that when I started it Day 2 morning I sucked just enough juice so that it wouldn?t start again so I decide to jump it again. This time the jump doesn?t work. The lights go on brightly but when I turn on the ignition is turns over very slowly and pathetically and the ignition won?t start (sorry if I?m confusing you with some incorrect terminology, I?m rather car ignorant).

Soooo, what should I do? Replace the battery? Get it towed and repaired? Something else?

Thanks, any help would be much appreciated, Mischa

How old is the battery? More than 3 years old it’s suspect.

Get the charging system checked. At least measure the battery voltage while the engine is running at fast idle and all accessories off. It should be 14-14.5V.

It takes several hours to fully charge a battery that’s substantially run down. 10 minutes doesn’t cut it. A small automatic charger is a good thing to have.

It’s unclear from your description whether the car was actually driven for any significant distance or if the battery was ever fully recharged after it died. Depending on the car, idling is usually not sufficient to recharge a battery.

If this was my car, I would do a full battery recharge (with an electric charger) and then start diagnosing the problem.

Needing a jump means either the battery, alternator, or both need attention (assuming you didn’t leave the lights on). Have both checked.

Lots of places will test your battery and charging systems for free. They are also likely to notice cables that need cleaning.

As noted an older battery (I would say five years) is suspect. Without testing the system anyone is just guessing. Someone with a basic meter and a few minutes can do some basic testing and will likely find your trouble quickly.