How to Start the Car with a Flat Battery?

Here is what you need to know when having a flat battery in your car

The car battery is the most important component of starting and driving a vehicle. It is responsible for sending power from the starting motor up to the sparks plug to ignite the fuel of the vehicle. Moreover, the battery also gives power to other systems such as the lights, music system, alarm system, air conditioning, and more.

By definition, a flat battery is a battery that does not have enough power to start a vehicle or provide lighting for that matter.

What Causes A Flat Battery?

  1. Human Error

Probably the most common one, people are prone to forget switching the lights of the car. One either forgets to shut the trunk, leave the headlights on, or forget about internal lights. Most cars alert one when they leave the lights on but not for all other components. The battery drains overnight and in the morning it gets difficult to even start.

  1. Undetected Damage

There can also be circumstances where other components of the car keep running even after the key is turned off. The battery has enough capacity to keep simple systems such as the clock preset, radio, or security alarm going. However, due to faulty wiring, poor installation and faulty fuses, the undetected drain can overuse what’s basic and deplete the battery.

  1. Defective Charging

When the charging system doesn’t work properly, the car battery can drain even as one is on the move. With a charging problem, the alternator can cause more problems other than supplying power to the lights, radio, and other electric car systems. In most cases, the alternator is worn out and as a result, the loose belts keep it from working as expected. Another cause could be the alternator’s bad diode which causes the circuit to charge even when the engine is off.

  1. Extreme Temperature

Whether extremely hot or extremely cold climate, the conditions can cause the battery life to reduce due to the build-up of harmful sulfate crystals.

  1. Corroded Battery cables and Old Batteries

Once the battery cables start to get dirty or corroded, the transfer of electric current becomes difficult. They should be checked regularly for signs of corrosion or defect. Once the battery gets old, it can’t maintain a full charge and it might die on a regular basis.

With all that being said, in some cases, the reason behind the vehicle’s failure to start may not actually be the battery. It is, therefore, advisable to consult the owner’s manual before taking the risk of jump starting the car. To ensure that it’s the battery with the fault, one should follow a set of procedures to be confident in their choice. They include;

  1. Start by checking if the headlights are dim or not. If the car doesn’t start but your headlights are still bright, the problem is not the battery.
  2. Another basic step is to ensure whether normal functions such as the interior lights, GPS system or clock, are functioning properly.
  • Try putting the key in the ignition and observe if the dashboard lights and stereo are working. If no light flickers once the key is in the ignition, there could be a problem with the ignition box.
  1. The fourth step is basically trying to start the car. It will depend on whether the turn over is slow or it cranks up quickly. If it cranks quickly, there will be no need to jump start it. But if there’s a slow turn over, then a jump start is necessary.

How Does One Start A Car With A Dead Battery?

Before jump-starting the car, ensure it’s the right move and also take off any jewellery to avoid contact with the terminals. Here are ten simple steps to follow;

  • Switch off all electrical systems including the lights, radio, GPS, and others.
  • Park the working car near, but not in contact with the disabled car. If they touch, a serious electrical arc can disrupt the process.
  • Ensure all the electrical components are turned off in both cars.
  • Attach one end of the red jump to the flat battery’ positive terminal
  • Then attach the other positive end of the red jump to the working car.
  • Get the black jump and attach it to the negative terminal of the working car.
  • With the other end of the black jump, attach it to a good earth point on the disabled car such as a nut or bolt.
  • Start the engine of the working car
  • Start the disabled car. If it’s still bad after a couple of attempts, the problem is worse.
  • If it starts, let the vehicles run for 5 minutes.

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If you don’t have a car to help out, for cars with manual transmission, follow these basic steps;

  • Get the car to be on top of a hill or ask people to help push the car
  • While in the car, step on the clutch
  • Put the car in second gear
  • Turn on the ignition but don’t start the car
  • Release the brakes
  • Finally, let go of the clutch when the car begins speeding up a little.

Dos’ and Don’ts


  1. Pay attention to the vehicle’s normal functions such as the light’s brightness or any suspicious smells
  2. Inspect the terminals if they are corroding
  3. Disconnect the battery if you keep it in storage
  4. Keep jumper cables in the emergency kit
  5. Grease and use the special spray for car batteries


  1. Don’t expose the car in extreme weather
  2. Don’t leave the car idle
  3. Always Switch off the lights
  4. Don’t disconnect the positive cable first when removing the battery