A vehicle, powered by an internal combustion engine, ICE, is quite an array of many components that must work together in near-perfect harmony for the vehicle to move and perform its functions without any challenges.
However, as with all moving components, wear and tear happens, all the time and replacements are often needed to keep the vehicle in good, motorable condition. These parts can be changed on the manufacturer’s recommended schedule which, if followed religiously, greatly minimizes failures and component breakdown.
That, however, is the story for the major parts and components that make up the automobile. For the minor (but very important parts), the story is slightly different.
These components are usually recommended for a change only when their service lives are at an end or when their response is subpar to what it ought to be.
However, what makes this tricky is that such minor (but very important) components often fail without warning and their service life is largely dependent of their various quality and pattern/condition of use (not necessarily on standard mileage covered).
The starter battery is one such component. Connected to the starter of an ICE engine which is in turn, is routed to the flywheel, this majorly 75-100 Ah pack of cells is famous for failure when you least expect it. And, depending on the manufacturer and the unit’s inherent quality, this usually happens sooner than later.
Granted, before it kicks the bucket finally, it always leaves some signs. Unfortunately, these signs are mostly cues that are missed, especially when you’re super busy, inattentive or generally, do not know what to look out for.
So, long story short; car battery dead, no jumper cables…what do you do?
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Car Battery Dead; No Jumper Cables
This is one of the ugliest situations you can ever find yourself in; it is pretty much embarrassing and can cause you a lot of challenges. That said, there are options and many ways out of this seemingly tight situation.
The option that you need to deploy will largely depend on where the old battery packed up, your transmission type and largely, the amount of time you have to spare.
Other factors would be the presence (or absence) of a portable jumper in the vehicle and how close or far you are from civilization in order to get a car jumpstart service near you.
The last option, of course, will simply be to walk in an auto store and get the darn battery replaced!
In summary, here are your options:
- Where the old vehicle broke down.
- Your transmission type.
- The amount of time you have to spare.
- Presence or absence of a portable jumper.
- How close or far you are from civilization.
- The proximity of an auto store to the ‘dead spot’.
Now, having summarized your options for the car battery dead, no-jumper cables scenario, here’s what your options boil down to, in detail.
1. Where The Old Starter Battery Packed Up
When you’re in an unfortunate situation where you have a dead starter battery and have no jumper cable on you, the very first thing to figure out is where your old starter battery has packed up.
In a residential area (especially in the countryside), all that you need to do is to proceed to the nearest door with a vehicle on the driveway and you’d be assisted right after the first knock.
This will likely be so on a less busy road, especially during off-peak hours; like Saturday mornings and Sunday evenings. During these periods, most motorists will accept your flag down and help you out without minding the obvious inconvenience.
However, if you’re unfortunate and have your starter battery fail in an urban area populated with super busy and highly individualistic folks, your knocking on their doors would likely be ignored and you’re likely not going to get help quickly.
The same will similar for if you have a battery failure during peak hours when everyone is rushing to work or school and you’re expecting help to get your automobile up and running again.
These folks are highly unlikely to stop and assist you with their own starter batteries or a jumper not because they’re bad folks but simply because they’re too busy with their lives to even notice that you’re in need and sorting you out will go a long way.
Summary? It is important to figure out where your battery went flat and left you stranded. This is the only way you’ll be able to sort yourself out on the first try (here) or proceed to the next item below.
2. Your Transmission Type
You have a dead car battery and do not have a jumper cable? If the environment where this happened does not make it easy to either use someone’s jumper cables or starter battery for this task, the next logical thing to do is to look at your own transmission.
If you’re driving an auto tranny, then, you’re in absolute luck! If it is an auto tranny that takes power from your engine and sends it to the wheels, then, you have to simply skip this point and take a look at the next item on the list to see if that fits your own reality.
If you’re lucky and your vehicle is powered by an auto tranny, all you need to do is to ask a passenger in it to give you a nice little push and you’re off.
If you’re driving solo and are without any help, simply pushing the vehicle downhill yourself (assuming you are parked at the top of a slop) will give you the boost needed to get the vehicle moving again and hopefully, to the workshop, home or safe place where you’ll be able to get the challenge fixed.
The procedure of starting a manual tranny vehicle that has a failed battery is simple:
- Put the vehicle in neutral and on a hill (going down) or let an assistant (or assistants, if the vehicle is large) give you a quick push.
- As the vehicle is being pushed or rolls downhill, depress the clutch and engage it in 2nd gear. Be sure that the ignition is in the ‘on’ position.
- When the vehicle gathers sufficient momentum (usually, this happens after about 10 or so seconds of the tires rolling and about 10 MPH), abruptly release the clutch pedal while the vehicle is still engaged in 2nd while engaging the gas pedal while at it.
- The engine will roar to life at this point, usually. If it does not, the push was simply not ‘powerful’ enough or you’re dealing with a vehicle with has poor cylinder compression (in which case, more efforts will be needed).
- Once the motor roars to life (or begins this process rather), go heavy on the gas pedal to make certain that its firing sequence and combustion processes are maintained.
- Be careful that this is done in an open environment where you do not risk hitting anything.
- Drive the vehicle normally as you would, to your destination.
If this point does not work for you or you have a tranny that is of the auto variant, kindly proceed to the next step below.
3. The Amount Of Time You Have To Spare
If the point immediately treated above does not sort your ‘car battery dead, no jumper cable’, you’ll need to re-evaluate how much time you have to spend and whether or not delaying further and waiting for help would be a smart move.
If this does not appear to be smart move, then, I’m afraid, you’ll need to simply move to the next point and check things out to see if that fits your reality.
However, if that makes sense and you have time on your hands, you could hang in tight wherever it is that the vehicle failed and wait for help there. That way, though it would certainly take time, help will surely come your way and you’ll be driving again.
If this does not sound like a terrific good idea, you could simply remove your cellphone and place a call to a loved one: a parent, child, spouse or even a friend. Folks are known to drive hundreds of miles to ‘rescue’ their friends and loved ones; your case, assuming you have a close-knit system won’t be an exception.
Even in the case that such a friend or family cannot make it, the likelihood that they would know someone in the area where you’re stranded who can help is great.
This is certainly an option that you should exploit when you have a dead battery in either your hood or trunk and no jumper cable anywhere close to your vehicle.
4. The Presence Or Absence Of A Portable Jumper
If you’re still reading this article up until this point, this is logical to conclude that you still have not yet found a way out of your ‘dead starter battery, no jumper cable challenge’.
At this point, it is safe to conclude that your options are going slim. However, there are still some options left on the table that you can conveniently explore before giving in or calling it quits. One of such option is a portable jump starter.
Designed in such a manner that they easily fit into the glove box (of most vehicles) or trunks (where they can’t fit into the glove boxes), these portable jumpers are sized like your traditional power bank and function in a similar manner with many options even having the power bank feature as standard offer.
These cute little devices, present in your vehicle, simply attach to battery terminals of your vehicle and viola! You’re up in cranks and mobility again.
Now, here’s the thing: it is very easy to even forget that you have a portable jumper in the vehicle…this is crazy, I know. Let me explain.
Unlike traditional jumper cables, the portable jumpers are relatively smaller and as the name implies, ultra-portable. What this means is simple and straightforward: they can easily be hidden in the glove box and all thanks to the fact that they only need to be charged about twice a year, can very easily be forgotten, especially in moments of stress and anxiety as when you have a battery failure right in the middle of nowhere.
Given that these jumpers are also generally inexpensive, it is also super easy to forget that one even has them around in the vehicle in the first place.
Another circumstance could very well be that you are driving a vehicle that isn’t yours: your girlfriend’s car, your husband’s or even a friend’s. In such a circumstance, it is wise to first of all, do a thorough search of the glove box and trunk to see if you (or the original owner) left a portable jumper somewhere in the vehicle.
If you get one and it is charged, thanks goodness. You can then proceed to logically jump your vehicle after checking out my article on how to jumpstart a vehicle with a portable jumper correctly.
5. How Close Or Far You Are From Civilization
Sometimes, some challenges are simple a tough nut to crack and a real pain in the butt! If you’re reading up until this point, it only means one thing – your challenge is almost qualified as one!
Never to worry though; there are at least two (2) options left that I sincerely believe should fix the challenge for you…the next one is to assess how close or far you are from civilization.
Your first instinct, I know, would be: what does ‘civilization’ got to do with a dead starter battery here?
‘Alot.’ My reply comes.
I had in the past argued that you don’t need to frantically be typing ‘jumpstart service near me‘ when you have a battery failure, assuming that you have a portable jumper either in your glove box or trunk.
However, if you don’t have one in the vehicle after searching it thoroughly, this might just be your saving grace, especially, if you’re within civilization and a service pops up nearby or at least, proximate enough.
Usually, in about thirty (30) minutes or less, you’d be on your way, after parting with about $50-$100. While not exactly what you’d planned, it remains well better than sitting stranded by the roadside on a cold January morning.
6. The Proximity Of An Auto Store To The ‘Dead Spot’
If you’re still reading, my guess is as good as yours: you have not found a solution to the dead/weak battery that you have, coupled with the fact that you have no jumper cable in the vehicle.
For this sixth point, this is as a last and final resort, if all else fails. So, what should you do if and when all other solutions fail to serve you up until now?
Simple. Figure out the proximity of an auto store and if one is close to the ‘dead spot’, the spot where you’re stranded, simply walk there or take a cab and simply get a battery replacement.
In the Continental US (and many parts of Europe and Australia), there are auto shops scattered all around the place and usually, especially for the mega options, there are franchises that are often littered across any given city or county in such a beautiful manner that makes being stranded in such a fashion as relayed above almost impossible.
Another place to look, obviously, is gas stations. Usually, these stations do not only pump gas: they also may offer lube services, air, and other auto consumables that may include (but certainly not limited to) starter batteries and tires.
After accessing where you’ll get a replacement battery for your vehicle, your best bet will simply be to pick up the a similarly sized unit to the option currently in the vehicle and you’ll be off in a few minutes. Remember to also pick up a 10/12mm combination wrench (called ‘spanner’ by the Brits) to unfasten away the weak battery terminals and fasten up the new battery on.
At this point, you should have found a fix for your challenge. However, there is and remains a better way of looking at the entire scenario…and this involves taking a better approach even before the challenge occurs. In other words, this demands being proactive, 101%.
A Better Approach Is To Be Proactive…
To avoid consulting Google in the middle of nowhere or worse, being completely at the mercy of strangers (who may or may not be receptive) to your pleas for help, a better option is to be proactive and avoid the scenario completely by being ready for it when and if it happens…
…since it will happen; when it happens being just a matter of time.
Prevention, they say, is better than cure. In the auto world, the saying is that preventive maintenance often goes a long way in ensuring that disappointments such as vehicular failures are few and far between, if not completely eradicated.
So, how does this apply to the starter battery of your vehicle in here?
The answer is quite simple and straight to the point…and it comes in two solid variants:
- Slam a portable jumper either in the glove box/trunk or
- Simply get a new starter battery every 3 years.
1. Slamming A Portable Jumper In The Glove Box Or Trunk
A portable jumper is an awesome thing to carry along either in your glove box or trunk. Designed to look like a simple powerbank, this little device is a powerhouse and can do many things, including (but not limited to) jumping your dead battery and charging your devices when you have no jumping needs.
The price for a portable jumper varies. However, for a typical vehicle, you can get a simply option like the XXX that cost less than the price of a meal in some fancy restaurant.
If you drive a bigger engined vehicle, then, you should take a look at the best jumper for a V8.
With a jumper in your vehicle when the starter battery misbehaves, all you need to do is remove, plug its terminals to your battery, power it on and crank!
The added advantage of the portable jumper over the conventional jumper cables is that most of the options are ultra-safe and do not pose any risk either to users or the vehicle.
Most of the options available come with an inbuilt system that sees to it that sparks and reverse polarity is held in check and completely contained.
You thus cannot get wrong with a portable jumper, especially if you opt for a badass model such as the Noco GB 50.
2. Getting A Replacement Battery Once In A While
If you don’t like the idea of getting a portable jumper for your vehicle, another alternative is to simply change the starter battery every three (3) years.
With great brands, this may appear to be overkill. However, done this way, you’ll never have to deal with a starter battery failure ever again as failure happens after at least five (5) years for the average user.
Most auto stores have a sort of trade-in arrangement where your the old unit will be replaced with a newer one and the difference paid up.
If auto stores where you live do not have such an arrangement, you will find it expedient that friends and family will be very willing to receive, keep and use the old batteries you discard in this manner.
This way, you are assured that whenever your motoring takes you, you’ll never have to bother about battery failure or worse, having to think about the possibility of a failing battery.
Fewer things can be more annoying than having a battery failure and not having a jumper cable or portable jumper in the vehicle.
It is worse when this happens in a very busy place where you’re likely not going to get help or in a lonely place where no help is bond to come your way.
Luckily, you have options:
- Get help around.
- Push the darn vehicle to start (if it is a manual tranny).
- Call friends/family for help, backup style.
- Look for a portable jumper around.
- Call a jumpstart service.
- Simply get a replacement battery.
These options are all solutions, after the fact. However, none beats having your small, smart portable jumper with you in the vehicle wherever you go so that you’re never stranded ever again.
For this, the best portable jumper for such a task remains the Noco GB 50, for its sheer durability, practicality, and long-lasting battery reality.