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A dead battery may seem like the end of the world, but diagnosing and resolving the issue will likely take no time at all. Often dead batteries are caused by operator error; like forgetting to turn the interior lights off for long periods of time. Sometimes just taking a bit more time when you're finished driving for the day is the only solution you need.
Batteries can die from a number of causes; leaving your car parked for three or four weeks, driving in extremely hot or cold temperatures, leaving your headlights or an interior light on overnight, and even driving with batteries that are past their expiration date. You’ll know for sure that the battery is done when it continues to die even after you've jump started it. However, before replacing your battery checking a few common reasons why your battery may be failing may lead to a solution that doesn't require you to buy another.
This easy task of diagnosing your battery will take only minutes, requires no special tools and costs nothing if you do it yourself. Now compare that to the $40 to $60 dollars you’ll spend at the dealership for letting them check under the hood.
The materials you’ll need for this job are jumper cables, baking soda, warm water, a flathead screwdriver or putty knife, and if it comes to it, a new battery.
Step 1 - Turn the ignition switch on.
Leaving your headlights or interior light on overnight, your keys in the ignition, or even the trunk open can cause your car battery to die.
Check if you left your keys in the ignition, your headlights or interior light on, or trunk open. If you did, this likely caused your battery to die.
Jump start your battery. If your battery simply weakened due to excessive drain, you should be able to get it going again in no time at all.
Turn your car off, let it sit for a few minutes, and then turn it on again. If your car starts as normal, then you've likely diagnosed and resolved the problem. If your engine refuses to turn over, or if it sputters a bit before turning over, then something else may be causing your battery to die.
To look for another cause, move on to Step 2.
Step 2 – Clean your battery terminals.
Dirty battery terminals can affect how much power your battery transfers to your starter. The dirtier the terminals, the more likely your car won't start.
When the engine is cool, open the hood.
Locate your battery, which is usually on the right side of your engine compartment.
Look at the battery terminals. If you cannot see the plus and minus signs on the positive and negative battery terminal cables, or if the terminals are clearly dirty, then it's time to clean them.
Disconnect your negative (black) battery terminal cable, and then disconnect your positive battery terminal cable.
Use a mixture of baking soda and warm water to clean your battery terminals.
Let it air dry.
Reconnect the positive and negative battery terminals and close the hood.
Now start the car. If the car starts immediately, turn it off , let it sit for a few minutes, and again try to turn on the car. If it starts immediately, then you're likely good to go, but if it doesn't, then something else may be causing your battery to die.
To look for another cause, move to Step 3.
Step 3 – Replace aging batteries
Batteries that are five years or older begin to deteriorate to the point where they stop working.
The older your battery, the more likely it is to experience draining. Toyota recommends changing batteries every four to six years; although, you may get more use out of your battery than that. Batteries that are older than six years and refuse to hold a charge, no matter how often you jump them, likely need to be replaced.
When the engine is cool, go ahead and open the hood.
Grab the jumper cables and place them on the terminals carefully. Jump start the battery. Keep in mind that the older the battery, the longer you'll need to keep your battery connected to another battery in order to charge it. If you are leaving your battery connected to another battery for longer than 10 minutes and your battery still doesn't successfully charge, then it is definitely time to replace it.
Turn off the engine. If your car turns on after you've jump started it, let it idle for five minutes and then turn off the car. Let it sit for between five to ten minutes and turn on the car again. If it fails to start after this test, then this is another indication that it's simply time to replace your battery. If it starts, but only after clear effort, this also indicates that it's time to replace your battery.