How do I repair a car battery that won't hold a charge?

I’ve jumpstarted my battery, trickle charged it, and tried about every home remedy I can think of, but my battery still won’t hold a charge. What are some ways to repair my car battery if it won’t hold a charge?

Answer
If jumpstarting your car battery doesn’t fix your problem, your battery might be dead. But if it’s not, you may be able to repair a car battery that won’t hold a charge by performing a few tests, cleaning the cells, and reconditioning the battery.
Before you begin, test your battery to ensure it’s not dead. An auto parts store will do this for free. Also, consider the battery’s age. If it’s more than four years old, it’s probably on its last leg.
Then, follow these instructions:
  • Always wear personal protective equipment.
  • Clean the terminals of the battery.
  • Perform a load test by connecting a load tester to the terminals. Start with the positive terminal, then connect the negative terminal.
  • If the load drops below 12 volts and stays there, you must replace the battery.
  • If your battery passes the test, remove the cell covers with a screwdriver.
  • Use a hydrometer to test the fluid in the cell.
  • If the solution is dark in color, you will need to replace the battery. But if it’s green or white, you should be in the clear.
  • Use a voltmeter to test the battery, affixing it to the positive terminal and then the negative terminal.
  • Add battery fluid to any cells with less than a 2-volt reading on the voltmeter.
  • Replace the cell covers.
  • Put on a trickle charger for 24 hours.
Hopefully, your car is as good as new after that. To avoid dead batteries in the future, add a battery inspection to your basic car maintenance schedule.
If you want some added peace of mind, you should also consider adding towing and labor coverage to your car insurance policy or getting a roadside assistance membership through Jerry. Jerry users pay as little as $4.16 a month.
The Jerry app’s leading roadside assistance connects you with their nationwide network of over 55,000 service providers. A membership includes services like towing, jumpstarts, key replacements, lockouts, and more.
Eric Schad
Answered on Dec 01, 2021
Eric Schad has been a freelance writer for nearly a decade, as well as an SEO specialist and editor for the past five years. Before getting behind the keyboard, he worked in the finance and music industries (the perfect combo). With a wide array of professional and personal experiences, he’s developed a knack for tone and branding across many different verticals. Away from the computer, Schad is a blues guitar shredder, crazed sports fan, and always down for a spontaneous trip anywhere around the globe.
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