Car Only Starts When Jumped – What’s Wrong?

Jumpstarting your car once, twice, or three times once in a while is fine. But, jumpstarting your car every time you want to drive can be very frustrating. What could be wrong? We consulted with the car experts and they gave us the following answers.

You keep jumpstarting your car every morning or whenever you want to drive because the battery loses charge after several hours or during the night. This may be due to the following reasons: 

  • Leaving car components on
  • Parasitic drain
  • Defective alternator
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Battery life is ending

Jumpstarting your car every time you want to go for a drive can mess up your day. Continue reading to know the reasons for this recurring problem. Besides, learn how to maintain your car battery to prevent a repeat of such a scenario. In addition, get to know how much it costs to replace a car battery.

Putting in a red alligator clamp, Car Only Starts When Jumped—What's Wrong?

Why Do You Jump Your Car Every Time You Start It?

A car can sometimes have a problem and refuse to start, needing you to jumpstart it. However, this should not be a regular occurrence, like several times a week. Your car battery is probably getting drained overnight or after several hours.

Man removing the car battery nut to replace it

There are various reasons your car battery would lose charge every night to the extent you have to jumpstart it every morning. 

Leaving Car Components On

Have you ever forgotten to switch off the components of your car because you were too tired? If you keep forgetting to turn off some components, you may need to jumpstart your car every morning, or each time you want to drive your car. 

For example, if you do not turn off your headlights, this leads to a dying battery. A similar scenario is when you don’t close the door completely, leaving the lights to stay on the whole night.

However, new car models come with an alert system that reminds you to switch off a component if you left it on.

Parasitic Drain

Parasitic drain is a common occurrence that can cause your battery to lose charge overnight. Your battery gets drained because it continues to power some components of your car, like the anti-theft alarm, clock, or even the radio, despite turning off the engine.

Losing small amounts of charge from your battery is normal. However, when this is beyond normal, the battery loses too much electrical charge and portends an electrical problem.

The circuit that energizes the lights, radio, clock, or some other component in your car could be having a problem. This is an issue you need to take to your mechanic to fix.  

Normal parasitic drain is between 50 and 85mA for newer cars, and below 50mA for older cars. If your car is within this scope, continue to take good care of your battery to prevent it from dying.

Defective Alternator

Car mechanic holding a defective alternator

If your battery is new but still drains when your car is off, the alternator could be having a problem. One of the functions of an alternator is to power the electrical system after turning on your engine. Another function is that it charges the car battery after ignition.

However, when your alternator malfunctions, it will not charge the battery adequately. It causes your car not to start and might need some help to start it.  

If you drive a Honda, your faulty alternator needs to be removed and replaced with the one like what is shown below. 

View this alternator on Amazon.

Extreme Temperatures

Cold weather can adversely affect your car battery. If left in the cold for several hours, it may not start because the chemical reactions are slower. Hot weather, on the other hand, will evaporate the chemicals in your battery, draining it.

If you frequently drive in areas with extreme temperatures, you should be keeping your car in well-conditioned places.  

Battery Life Is Ending

Car batteries have a shelf life. If yours is due for replacement, it will continue draining at night even after charging it every now and then.

Ideally, you should replace your car battery every 3 or 4 years. Some may go for 5 or 6 years, depending on the number and usage of the components in your car. 

Driving your car with a battery that is due to be changed, the battery will continuously drain.

How Do You Maintain Your Car Battery In Good Working Condition?

Man holding an alligator clamp

You can avoid jumping your car every time you start it by keeping the battery in good condition, including the following:

Change Your Car Battery When Due

As mentioned, you ought to change your car battery every 3 or 4 years or when you notice it is dying. Don’t wait until you are stalled in the middle of your journey to change it. 

View this car battery on Amazon.

Examine The Acid Level

It is recommended to check the acid levels in your car battery every six months. Examining it gives you a clue on whether there is acid-stratification or not. This occurs when the acid has concentrated at the bottom, while very little remains at the top. 

To function optimally, the acid should be evenly distributed throughout the battery. Acid stratification causes an acceleration of corrosion, reducing the lifespan of your battery. 

Top Up Acid Liquid  

When the acid levels in your car battery are low until the plates are exposed, then your battery could get damaged. As soon as you notice this, add water to submerge the plates in the acid. Don’t try adding any other liquid to avoid damaging your battery.

When these plates are exposed, the normal function of the battery is interfered with, leading to irreparable damage. 

As part of the maintenance schedule of your battery, ensure the acid levels don’t go lower than is recommended. 

Carry Out A Battery Load Test 

You can either check or take your car to the mechanic to carry out a battery load at least once a month. It ensures that your battery can still charge properly even at very low temperatures.  

Clean The Battery

Technician cleaning corrosion on the car battery

Dirt and debris can cause corrosion on your battery, interfering with its normal function. That is why you should clean the battery often. You can clean it by applying baking soda to neutralize any acid found on top to prevent further corrosion. 

Ensure Cables Are Tight

It’s important to keep your cables from getting displaced or misaligned. Hence, you should ensure they are tightly tied to secure the battery properly in your car. 

Drive Your Car Often 

Don’t stray without driving your car for long periods, or three days at the maximum. If you will not be driving your car for long periods, at least start your car every once a week for 15 to 30 minutes. 

Keep Car Battery Warm

As mentioned earlier, cold weather can negatively affect your car battery. Hence, ensure you keep it in a well-conditioned place when you are not driving it. 

Don’t Over-Charge Battery

You can destroy your car battery within a few hours by overcharging it. Charging it after it is full causes the battery to heat up, subsequently damaging it. 

Cost Of Replacing Your Car Battery?

At some point, you will need to replace your car battery, the cost ranging from $50 to $250. Though it depends on the type of your car, the shop from where you bought the battery, and if you will be using the services of a professional.

Car batteries are not universal. You will need to buy one that matches the voltage of your car, and one that fits snugly in your car. Some automotive shops offer free installation if you purchase from them. 

It may look easy to swap your dead battery with a new one. However, if you are not up to the task, hire the services of a professional.

Taking your car for a battery test will cost between $35 and $44, though it does not include the location of the automotive center, the type of vehicle, and taxes and fees. 

In Closing

Putting in a red alligator clamp

Jump starting your car each time you want to drive to a meeting, work, or even school can be nerve-wracking. A dying or dead battery is the main reason for this repeated occurrence. 

But, if the problem is not major, it can be fixed by a mechanic. In other cases, the battery will have to be replaced because it has malfunctioned or the battery is dead. 

To avoid reaching a point you have to jumpstart your car every time you want to drive, ensure and maintain the battery is in good condition. 

To learn how to replace a car battery, check out this post: "Reconnect Car Battery."

In addition, to know how to charge a dead car battery, check out this post: "How Long To Charge A Dead Car Battery."




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