My car has been sitting and the battery is dead. Now what?

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Staying quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic is one thing.

But there might be a scenario that makes it worse.

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What if you need to drive to the grocery store or another essential business? And what if your car won’t start because of a dead battery?

It isn’t a far-fetched possibility, since high-tech vehicles that have computers on monitoring systems need recharging -- and if left alone, the battery of such a vehicle could die in about two weeks.

So, if you end up in this situation, what are some solutions? How will you get your battery going and car up and running again?

An obvious answer might be to call a repair shop to either have someone come and change the battery quickly or tow it to a shop, but many of those places might not be open at the moment due to the pandemic.

If repair shops aren’t an option, here are some others:

Revive the battery with jumper cables.

If you have jumper cables lying around or can borrow some from a neighbor, this is a good option to get the car running and then get it to a repair shop that’s open for business.

Of course, you’ll need another running vehicle to get a charge from its working battery, whether it’s a neighbor’s car or another vehicle at your household.

To revive a dead battery, first make sure each car is in park or neutral -- and turned off.

Then, connect one end of the cable to the positive terminal of the donor battery, and then connect the other end to the positive terminal of the dead battery.

After that, connect one end of the other cable to the negative terminal of the donor battery, then connect the other end of the cable to bare metal on the engine or the frame of the vehicle.

Let the dead battery charge for a few minutes, and then turn the ignition on the vehicle of the dead battery to see if it starts. If it doesn’t, the battery might need to be replaced. But you should see success in many cases.

For a visual tutorial, watch the video below.

Change the battery.

This only applies if you:

a) Have someone to take you to a repair shop or the store right away to buy a new battery.

b) Have the luxury of not needing to drive -- and can wait a few days for a new battery to be ordered and delivered to your home.

If you have the ability to get a new battery quickly, then simply unscrew the dead one and replace it with a new one. The store where you make such a purchase should be able to do it for you, too.

For a visual guide, click or tap on the video below.

Last-resort methods:

If all the above methods aren’t feasible, or they fail, there are three substances that could possibly help to restart a battery, according to

  • Epsom salt: Found at grocery stores and drug stores, dissolving some Epsom salt in warm water and adding to each cell of a battery could deliver a charge to that battery. Read more about how to do it here.
  • Distilled water: Similar to Epsom salt, applying this to battery cells might get a reaction out of the battery.
  • Aspirin: Who knew aspirin could do more than solve problems in humans? Dissolving 12 aspirin tablets in warm water and applying to a battery might bring your car back to life.

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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