Your battery is one of the most important parts of your car. Even if you have a great, efficient vehicle, or one that offers top performance, it's not going anywhere without a working battery. Unfortunately, leaving the lights on, or simply having too many electronic devices hooked up to a car that hasn't moved for a while could result in a dead battery. You may not discover it right away, either. One day, you put the key in the ignition, and all you get is a ticking or dragging noise, or only the lights will come on. You might have a dead battery.
Of course, there are a few other things that could be wrong, too. There are other car parts that could be the trouble. A bad alternator could cause your battery to go dead, but it's not the battery's fault, or the problem might be the starter, and not a dead car battery at all. You'll need to find out before you buy a new battery, because otherwise, it'll be a waste of money and time. If the car has simply been allowed to run down, you may also be able to jump start the vehicle and recharge the battery by running the car. Some newer vehicles, such as hybrids, cannot be jump started, so you should know your car.
In any car, the battery should be checked regularly to make sure it's working well. Cables need to be correctly connected and battery posts should be clean. If you're unable to jump start your car, you'll need to have it towed to a service station, so try everything else first. Don't just assume your battery is dead and you need a new one. There are battery chargers and similar car accessories that plug into an outlet. These can be used to fix your dead battery, or you could try jumper cables. Just make sure you follow a few basic safety precautions before doing anything with the battery.
If you're going to be working under the hood, you'll need to make sure it's secure to prevent it from falling unexpectedly. A falling hood probably won't injure you, but it can hurt! Remember to check your manual to find out the correct way to deal with your battery, especially if you'll be installing a new one. Your car manual can tell you more about what to do with your specific make and model than any general article or piece of advice from a friend. The newer and more advanced your car is, the more likely it is to have some kind of special instructions for dealing with a dead car battery. The price of car parts, such as a new battery, will also depend on the type of car you have. Some batteries are much more expensive than others.
Be extremely careful if you'll be jump starting your car in the cold, since a dead battery can freeze if the temperature is below ten or fifteen degrees. Jumping the car at this temperature could result in an explosion! If you need to jump in this kind of weather, allow the car that's being used to jump yours to run for a few minutes, with cables attached, to warm the battery. If it's very cold, you should stand ten feet or more from the car and wait up to half an hour. Don't be tempted to rush this - if you can, find a warm place to stay while you're waiting for the car to start.
No matter what weather you're jumping in, be sure not to make the final connection on the battery terminal. That's because dead batteries can off gas and sparks may ignite this gas. Make the last connection on a metal surface in the car, instead. Wear safety goggles if you can, and if they're not available, don't look at the battery when you make the connection - if an explosion occurs, this will protect your face. Start both cars at once, and if yours is sluggish, let the other car charge your dead car battery for a few minutes. If your headlights burn brightly, you should be able to start your car.
If you need a new battery, check for a store that sells car parts and car accessories, and be prepared to pay for it. Installation can be done on your own, but remember the basic safety precautions and remember that you'll be responsible for disposal of the dead battery after it's removed. A fresh battery in a car that's in good working condition should last for years. If it doesn't - something else may be wrong, and different car parts may need to be replaced. That's one reason to have a professional check your car if you're having battery problems. He or she can recommend the right car accessories to fix the problem.