As the country is slowly emerging from weeks of limited travel, many people may find themselves in the inconvenient position of having a flat battery.
Your battery is needed to get your engine started – once the engine is going, the battery recharges. A flat battery can be caused by a range of things: short journeys (particularly if you have the lights/radio/heater/aircon on); underuse; age.
Step 1 – Check it IS the battery
There are few things more embarrassing than calling for vehicle help only to realise that it is operator error. Check your fuel first (particularly if it has been a while since you have driven). If your battery is so flat that the car won’t even unlock, try with your spare key before calling for help – it could be that your car key battery is dead. If you can’t start the ignition and the steering wheel feels locked, give the wheel a wiggle and check that your wheels aren’t jammed against the kerb.
If you are in any doubt, call your local vehicle recovery service.
Step 2 – Jump Start
Once you have ascertained that the problem is your battery, if your battery is not completely dead – i.e. your central locking works but the engine doesn’t start - and you are not in a rush, you could start by charging your battery using a mains-fed car battery charger. If there is no life in it at all, you could try jump starting your vehicle; to do this, you will need a set of working jump leads, and a vehicle with a fully charged battery. Do NOT try to jump start a vehicle from an electric or hybrid vehicle as you could cause significant damage.
Before you do anything, check the condition of the battery and equipment – never try to jump start a damaged or leaking battery, and never use broken jump leads.
Once you are confident that it is safe and appropriate to try to jump start your vehicle, you need to check that your environment is safe. Remove clothing that could get in your way or get caught in the engine (ties, scarves, loose clothing) and take off anything metal such as rings, necklaces, watches, and bracelets. Contact between the battery and metal (including tools or stray wires) can cause the battery to explode.
Step 3 – Call For Help
If your battery is damaged, leaking or completely flat, you will need to buy a new one. In the first instance, call your local recovery service – they will be able to take you to safety and your nearest battery specialist or garage.