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Stranded With a Dead Battery? Here is What You Can Do

If you feel ready for the spring and summer seasons, you might be (finally) preparing your vehicle for longer drives. With quarantine leaving many cars dormant while the cold weather depleted their charge, drivers (perhaps now more than ever) are finding their car batteries failing. So what can you do when you are left stranded with a dead car battery? Here are three popular solutions from the experts at Chapel Hill Tire.

Option 1: Jump-Start Your Vehicle

The first resort for many drivers is to jump-start their dead car batteries. Jump-starting is a short-term solution, but it will often get you where you need to go in the moment. You will need cables & another vehicle or a jump-starting pack. Here is our 8-step guide to jump-starting your battery

Once your vehicle is jump-started, should you head straight to the mechanic? Immediate service is preferable. If your battery becomes too depleted from continued use, you may not be able to jump-start it later to get it to the shop. This will require you to hire a tow truck before getting the service you need. However, if you need to schedule your battery replacement service around work and other obligations, you can often get by until you have time in your schedule. Here are some tips to help:

  • Make sure you keep cables or a jumper on hand. 
  • If possible, drive for at least 20 minutes after jump-starting to give your battery time to recharge. 
  • Mechanic shuttle services might also be able to help you fit your battery replacement into your schedule. 

Option 2: Calling AAA For Battery Support: What You Need to Know

Unfortunately, jump-starting is not always an option—especially when you do not have the right tools with you. If you pay for roadside assistance, you are likely safeguarding yourself for moments like these. After you call AAA, they will come to you and replace your battery. There are a few considerations here to keep in mind:

  • This service is only available to AAA members
  • Certain regions within a state may not be eligible for this service
  • This service applies to most, but not all, vehicles

Option 3: Free Pick-Up/Delivery Mechanic Services

While you might think that calling for roadside assistance or jump-starting your vehicle are your only options, there is a third solution that many drivers forget: free pick-up/delivery mechanic service. 

Here is how this process works:

  • When making your appointment, select the “pick-up/delivery” option.
  • A pick-up/delivery service expert will come to you and jump-start your vehicle. 
  • Then, they drive it back to the mechanic shop for a battery replacement service.
  • Finally, they bring your fully-service vehicle back to your work or home.

This provides a convenience similar to the AAA experience without an annual membership fee.

Do All Dead Batteries Require Replacement?

You might be wondering, “Does my dead battery need a replacement?” Not necessarily. Older batteries will almost always require replacement, but newer batteries may just need service. Here is a look at common causes of dead batteries and whether they require replacement. 

Older Car Batteries

If your dead car battery is 5+ years old, it will require replacement as soon as possible. Keep an eye out for these four signs that you need a new battery. The only exception to this rule is hybrid vehicles. Hybrid batteries are designed to last 10+ years. If you are experiencing a hybrid battery issue, have it looked at by a certified technician (like those at Chapel Hill Tire) as soon as possible. 

Newer Car Batteries

Draining charge from lights or chargers

If your new car battery dies, check to see if you have any lights on or chargers plugged in that could be draining its charge. In these cases, a jump-start should fix your problem as long as you give it time to recharge. 

Failing alternator

Imagine this: Your car battery dies. After you get your battery replaced, a week (two weeks, or even a month) later, your brand-new battery dies again. Does this sound like you? You likely have a failing alternator. Your alternator is the system that recharges your battery as you drive. Without its support, even new car batteries don’t stand a chance. In these cases, you will need to have your alternator repaired before your new battery is installed. 

Lemon car battery

There is also a slim chance that your battery is a “lemon.” While this is rare, faulty car batteries are not completely unheard of. Thankfully, many batteries are covered under a manufacturer or shop warranty, which will allow you to get a battery replacement within a certain coverage window.

Mid-Life Car Batteries

What about the car batteries that aren’t necessarily new but should still have a year or two left of life? Will they require a replacement? The answer here will depend on the source of the dead battery:

  • Internal corrosion: Batteries require replacement over time because the acid inside the battery begins to stratify. Batteries also become corroded from seasonal heat. If the battery has been destroyed internally, it will need a replacement. Excessive heat in the South may expedite this process.
  • Driving patterns: Batteries recharge while you drive, so they may also age prematurely if your driving consists almost entirely of short, stop-and-go routes. 
  • Terminal ends: If your battery is dead due to corroded terminal ends, you might be able to extend its lifespan with professional cleaning or terminal end replacements. In this case, you may not need a new battery.
  • Sitting too long: When a battery has been left sitting for too long, its charge will deplete. Depending on your vehicle, area, and how long it has been sitting, you may be able to jump-start an old battery. However, the longer it sits, the more likely it is that you will require a replacement. 

Chapel Hill Tire: Pick-Up/Delivery Mechanic Service

The next time you find yourself with a dead battery, the experts at Chapel Hill Tire will come to you. Our mechanics proudly serve the greater Triangle area with our nine locations across Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Durham, Carrboro, and Apex. We also commonly serve surrounding communities, such as Pittsboro, Wake Forest, and beyond. You can make your appointment here online or give us a call to get started today!

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