How to Jumpstart a Car with a Dead Battery from Not Driving

Ever found yourself in a rush, only to discover your car won’t start because the battery’s dead from sitting too long? It’s a frustrating scenario many of us have faced. But fear not, as we’ve got your back with some tips to tackle this common issue. In this article, we’ll explore why your car battery dies from lack of use and share practical solutions to get you back on the road in no time. Stay tuned for some handy advice that’ll save you from being stranded next time you hop in your car.

Why Do Car Batteries Die from Lack of Use?

Car batteries can die from lack of use for various reasons. Understanding these factors can help you prevent getting stranded with a dead battery when you need to hit the road. Here’s why this happens:

  • Self-Discharge: Even when your car is off, the battery still slowly loses its charge over time due to internal chemical processes.
  • Parasitic Drain: Modern vehicles have electronics that draw small amounts of power even when not in use, gradually depleting the battery.
  • Sulfation: Lack of regular charging can lead to the buildup of sulfate crystals on the battery plates, reducing its ability to hold a charge.
  • Extreme Temperatures: Hot weather can accelerate the evaporation of battery fluids, while cold temperatures reduce the battery’s effectiveness.

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Remember, regular maintenance and occasional drives can help keep your car battery charged and ready for your next journey.

Signs of a Dead Battery

When a car battery is not used regularly, it can exhibit various signs of being on the brink of failure. Here are some common indicators that your battery may be dead due to extended periods of inactivity:

  • Dim headlights and interior lights when you try to start your car.
  • Clicking sound when you turn the key in the ignition with no engine crank.
  • Electrical issues, such as malfunctioning power windows or radio.
  • Slow engine crank when attempting to start your vehicle.
  • Dashboard warning lights indicating a low battery or charging system problem.

Recognizing these signs early can help you address battery issues before finding yourself stuck with a non-starting vehicle.

Preventive Measures to Avoid a Dead Battery

  • Regular Driving: Take short trips or drive your car at least once a week to keep the battery charged.
  • Use a Battery Charger: Invest in a battery charger and maintainer to keep the battery healthy during periods of inactivity.
  • Check Connections: Ensure battery terminals are clean and tight to prevent electrical issues.
  • Turn off Electronics: Switch off lights, radio, and other accessories when not in use to conserve battery life.
  • Park Indoors: Whenever possible, park your car in a garage to protect the battery from extreme temperatures.
  • Battery Inspection: Regularly inspect the battery for corrosion or leaks, and address any issues promptly.

By following these preventive measures, you can prolong your car battery’s life and avoid the hassle of dealing with a dead battery.

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Steps to Jumpstart a Car with a Dead Battery

If you find yourself dealing with a dead car battery due to lack of driving, don’t worry as jumpstarting your vehicle is a straightforward process. Here are the steps to get you back on the road quickly:

  • Locate a Good Samaritan: Ask someone with a working vehicle to assist you with jumpstarting your car.
  • Get the Jumper Cables: Ensure you have a set of jumper cables in your vehicle or ask the person helping you to provide them.
  • Position the Vehicles: Park the two cars close enough for the jumper cables to reach both batteries.
  • Identify the Batteries: Locate the batteries in each vehicle. Connect the red clamp to the positive terminal (+) and the black clamp to the negative terminal (-) of the dead battery.
  • Start the Working Car: Have the person with the functioning vehicle start their engine.
  • Wait a Few Minutes: Let the working car run for a few minutes to charge the dead battery.
  • Start Your Car: Attempt to start your vehicle. If it doesn’t start, check the connections and make sure they are secure.
  • Remove the Cables: Once your car starts, disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order of how you connected them.

Remember, if jumpstarting doesn’t work, it may be time to replace your car battery.


Remember, regular vehicle use is crucial to prevent a dead car battery. By following the simple steps outlined in this article, you can easily jumpstart your vehicle in case of a battery failure. Don’t forget to keep jumper cables in your car for emergencies. If jumpstarting doesn’t work, it might be time to consider a new battery. Stay proactive and maintain your car’s battery health for a smooth driving experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the preventive measures to avoid a dead car battery?

To prevent a dead car battery, you should ensure your vehicle’s lights are off when parked, check for loose wiring, securely close doors and trunk, and drive your car regularly to keep the battery charged.

2. How do I jumpstart a car with a dead battery?

To jumpstart a car, find a working vehicle, park it close to the stalled car, connect the red (positive) jumper cable to the dead battery’s positive terminal, connect the other red cable to the working car’s positive terminal, black (negative) cable to the working car’s negative terminal, and the other black cable to an unpainted metal surface on the dead car. Start the working car and wait a few minutes before attempting to start the stalled vehicle.

3. What if jumpstarting my car doesn’t work?

If jumpstarting your car fails to start the engine, it may indicate a more significant issue with the battery. In this case, you should consider replacing the battery or seek professional assistance to diagnose the problem accurately.

Battery industry professional with 5+ years of experience. Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech. Specializes in power systems and renewable energy.

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