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Q: Ignition not working

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The car battery got discharged today. I used a jumper cable to fix it. After two hours, when I started it again, it looked like the battery was working, but the ignition would not working.

A: Hi, if you had to jump the car, the battery...

Hi, if you had to jump the car, the battery is likely going to be too low on power to get the engine started. The alternator can keep the battery supplied while the car is running, but as soon as the engine is shut off the battery begins discharging. This discharge will be very fast if the battery is old, so if the battery has never been replaced, it most likely can’t hold a charge anymore.

Batteries typically need to be changed every 5 years or so as that’s right when they begin failing. Keep in mind that the battery may have enough power to light up the dash lights, but not enough to get the engine started. If you have a voltmeter, you can check the battery by touching the 2 leads to the positive and negative terminals of the battery. You want the voltage to be as close to 12 volts as possible, anything below about 9.6v and there won’t be enough power. One of our certified technicians here at YourMechanic would be able to help you inspect the battery and help diagnose why your car is having trouble staring.

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