Is My Car Battery Dead

It could be… but chances are it’s not dead. It’s much more likely to be flat (low on charge), rather than dead.

Here’s how you can tell.

Have you left your car lying unused for a week or two recently? 

If yes, then it’s probably just low on charge, not dead.

Dead car battery

Have you only used the car for short journeys of 5 minutes or less recently? 

If yes, then the car’s probably not getting enough time to fully charge the battery as you drive. In this case, the battery charge has gone down below the necessary minimum voltage needed to start.

So what should I do?

If you just urgently need to get the car going right now, you can get a jump start from another car, using jump leads; or use a jump starter (lithium jump starters are super small and light these days, and you can keep them in your glove compartment). 

To actually properly solve this problem, though, you should get a car battery charger – check out our list of the best chargers of 2023 here. The charger will charge the battery back to a voltage that is high enough to start. You can use this charger to top it up any time you go a week or two without driving your car.

The best models are really easy to use – just pop your bonnet up, connect the red clamp to the positive battery terminal, the black clamp to the negative battery terminal. Then the charger does the rest automatically.

Car battery charger

Some of the best chargers, like NOCO and CTEK (check out our NOCO Genius5UK and CTEK MXS5.0 comparison of these two market-leading charger models), have built-in desulfation and battery conditioning programs, which will also improve the health of the battery and make it last considerably longer. CTEK claim 3 times as long!

If you’ve been driving your car often enough and long enough distances recently then it may mean the battery is dead but it could also be that the battery is sulfated. This is when sulfation builds up on the battery plates, impairing the ability of the battery to deliver power to your car. It’s important to know that this CAN be fixed. And quite easily, most of the time.

As mentioned above, the best battery chargers have desulfation modes that remove the lead sulfate crystals from the battery plates. There are also specialised desulfators that attach to your battery and do the same thing. For more info on this, check out our article called Do Battery Conditioners Work?

Should I take the car to a mechanic?

Only if you’ve already tried charging it. We recommend trying a battery charger or desulfator first.

The reason is simple – mechanics make plenty of money by flogging batteries to people who don’t actually need them. 

They will take a reading of the car battery health using a battery tester, and may even show the test result in their report for you. For example, they could show that a battery with rating of 600CCA (that means the original rating of the battery when it was new) has current rating of just 320CCA. They’ll use this as justification for a new battery.

Car battery tester

However, a good battery conditioner (either a battery charger or a desulfator) can improve CCA significantly. We’ve seen this with our own eyes time and time again. In the example above, the conditioner may increase the CCA to 450 to 500CCA or even higher. This means it’s restoring and reviving your battery health.

The online reviews for the CTEK MXS5.0 and NOCO Genius5UK are jammed full of people who thought their battery was dead and the charger brought it back to life. 

Have a long think whether your mechanic likes you more than he likes money… It’s estimated that up to 50% of batteries that are junked are actually still in working condition.

A luxury German car manufacturer reported that of 400 batteries returned under warranty, 200 of them were working well and have no problems.

Now that you know this, you may just find that your batteries will last a lot longer than they otherwise would, saving you some cash! Stay safe out there, and good luck with reviving your battery.