What do brownies, bowling and batteries have in common?

Advance Auto PartsThey’re my power sources. The sweet stuff: after the first bite, I’m ready to move mountains. The sport stuff: always an adrenaline rush since my league days with The Gutter Gals. The start-the-car-NOW stuff: my family has thousands of destinations — starting the ignition, hearing an empty-sounding click, then dead silence is something we don’t need. Dead car battery. Get the jumper cables. Time for reviving a dead car battery and jump starting a car.

Never worked with jumper cables before for jump starting a car? (No worries ladies, we’ve all been there once.) A dead car battery doesn’t discriminate. It’ll happen some day, so take heed and learn how to jump start a car battery right:

  • Turn off both cars
  • Connect one of the red (positive) jumper cables to the positive terminal on the stalled car’s battery
  • Connect the second red jumper cable to the positive terminal of the battery on the car giving the boost
  • Connect one of the black (negative) jumper cables to the negative terminal of the boosting car’s battery
  • Connect the other black jumper cable to the stalled car’s engine block
  • Start the boosting car, let it run for a few minutes
  • Start the stalled car
  • Once the stalled car starts, keep both cars running
  • In reverse order, take off the jumper cables
  • Keep the jumped car running for half an hour (it’ll give the battery time to recharge itself)

That is the art of jump starting a car and reviving a dead car battery. To further avoid the dead car battery dilemma, especially with winter around the corner, be proactive now. During bone-cold weather, a battery’s ability to generate power naturally slows down. To make the problem worse, engines will need even more battery current to get started. Plus, the many demands of the defrosters, wipers and heater also increase the need for power. So check your battery’s longevity level for winter! Test it with a voltmeter. Measure electrolyte levels. Remove corrosion from battery posts and terminals.

Lastly, keep those jumper cables in the trunk. After all, you now know how to jump start a car battery and an opportunity to be a Good Samaritan may arise at the parking lot, on the coldest night this winter. Then, after reviving a dead car battery, reward yourself. I say go for a fudge-nut brownie. Or two.

Editor’s note: Is you power absolute? Advance Auto Parts offers loads of car batteries, services and solutions to serve just about every cold-cranking need. Buy online, have it installed free in store—most vehicles, most locations. (Sorry, we’re out of fudge-nut brownies at the moment.)

Things that make you go ARGH!!! (Or, reasons why your car won’t start)

We’ve all been there… The key’s in the ignition. The car’s cranking, but simply won’t take. Or if it does, it quickly dies. Most frustrating, there just isn’t any action at all. After mumbling some choice words, you gather your car-smarts and summarize this: the car won’t start. I’ve been there myself—more times than I care to mention.

Dead car batteryTake the time we took our son for his junior-prom tuxedo fitting last spring. The car ignition kept stalling. The hubby leaned over and said to watch the dashboard. We noticed the warning lights weren’t turning on. “Looks like it might be ignition switch replacement time,” he deduced. “Warning lights being off are a sign of a bad ignition switch?” I asked. “Generally, yes,” he responded, “might be a short in the electrical system.” So I stopped (didn’t want to drain the battery) and we called for a tow. Our mechanic later confirmed my husband’s ignition switch replacement diagnosis.

A few…ahem, years earlier, back in my college days, friends and I headed for a coastal road trip. Halfway there, the car decides to undergo a midlife crisis. All we got was just a feeble click-click with each turn of the key in the ignition. “I was just with Dad when he bought this new battery! Now it’s a dead car battery,” Kelly groaned. “Then this isn’t a dead car battery problem,” I said.

Best I was able to figure out—with my Dad, thanks to the payphone—was that it still might be a power source problem, like maybe an alternator issue, since that’s what recharges the battery with power from the engine. As Dad predicted, that was all it needed. We pitched in for that alternator replacement, and though it left us with less cash for partying, looking back, it gave me the gumption to delve further into our vehicles.

Another cause for a car not starting? Bad ignition relay. That’ll cause a car to start momentarily then stop right away. In this case, this “middleman” (or “solenoid”) is incapable of relaying a low-amp electrical volt to switch a high-amp circuit that supplies power to the various electrical parts throughout the car. I’ve been the victim of this slippery middleman myself. But now, I always win since I know what to look out for.

Before I get back to dinner and homework duty, I’d like to leave you with this parting thought: alternator replacement and ignition switch replacement are probably going to be inevitable, if you plan on keeping your car a while. You will also most likely deal with a bad ignition relay at some point, and for sure, a dead car battery. Not to worry, you can handle it—I did!

Editor’s note: You can help prevent instances like these by doing simple maintenance and checkups yourself. Rely on Advance Auto Parts for a vast selection of car batteries and other electrical system essentials.