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While your engine is mechanical, it needs electricity to operate. Electric spark is used to ignite fuel in the combustion chamber, turning the engine over. While the alternator provides the electricity necessary to run the car during operation, the battery is responsible for cranking the car. If your battery is dead, then the car won’t start and you’re essentially dead in the water.
Car batteries are crucial things – they’re responsible for providing the charge to turn over the ignition and crank the engine. Batteries operate based on a chemical reaction – acid and lead in the battery create a chemical reaction, which is then turned into an electric charge and stored in charging plates within the battery itself.
When you turn the ignition switch, several things happen, but all of them require voltage from the battery. When the ignition is switched to on, electricity is sent to the main relay, and from there to the fuel pump (which sends gasoline to the engine for ignition), and the car’s computer. The battery also produces electricity to feed the spark plugs, which ignite the fuel, and turn your car’s starter, which is responsible for actually turning the engine over and essentially jump-starting the combustion process. If your battery is dead, none of those things will happen. Depending on the amount of “juice” left in the battery, you may have just enough power to turn on a few dash lights, or you may not even have enough for that.
Dead Battery: Batteries have a finite lifespan. Most last five years or so, while other batteries are heavy-duty and rated for more than this. All will eventually die and need to be replaced. This is a normal part of vehicle maintenance, and your battery, starter and alternator should be tested regularly to ensure that you’re not stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery.
Car Lights Left On: With the advent of smarter automotive technology, this has become rarer, but it still occurs. If your car’s lights don’t have an automatic shutoff feature, they’ll stay on unless you physically turn them off. If this happens and the engine isn’t running, they’ll pull power straight from the battery, eventually killing it.
Door Not Fully Closed: If your door is open, then the dome light will be on, and other interior lights may also be on. These lights draw their power from the battery if the engine isn’t running, and can quickly drain a battery.
Dead Alternator: The alternator produces electricity while the engine is running, and is responsible for providing all the power needed for your engine, your accessories, and to recharge the battery. If the alternator dies, it won’t charge the battery, and all the power needs of your vehicle will come straight from the battery. Eventually, this will drain it completely, leaving you stranded.
Bad Starter: It might not be the battery that’s the problem – if your starter has turned its last, your car won’t crank either. Again, regular maintenance can help predict starter failure.
Failed Main Relay: Sometimes, everything in the charging system is perfectly fine, but your car still won’t crank. In this instance, the first suspect should be the main relay, since it controls the fuel pump and the car’s computer.
A top-rated mobile mechanic will come to your home or office to check the condition of your battery, starter, alternator and other important components. The mechanic will then provide a detailed inspection report that includes the scope and cost of the necessary repairs.
The mechanic will first check the charge on your battery to determine if it is actually dead (bad cell), or if it only needs to be recharged. A jump-start may be all that is required. The mechanic will also check the alternator, starter and other important components to ensure that you can get back on the road safely.
If your battery is dead, you’re going nowhere fast. The best protection against this is to have your battery, starter and alternator inspected regularly. However, if you’ve been stranded with a dead battery, one of our professional mechanics can help.