Car battery basics

Click or tap a gold hot spot to learn about car battery basics.

Battery maintenance tips

Click or tap a gold hot spot to learn about car battery basics.

Your car’s battery is central to bringing it to life: It supplies the electrical direct current (DC) that starts the engine.1,2 From there, the alternator takes over supplying the car’s power with alternating current (AC).2,3

Electricity is a critical component to a vehicle, so if the battery dies, your car won’t start. To get your vehicle back into working condition, you have two options: jump-start your car or get a new battery.4 To jump-start your car, you’ll need a set of jumper cables and another car with a functional battery. If a few short attempts don’t work, call a tow truck instead and replace the vehicle’s battery. The most common brands cost $50 to $70.5

In the case of a dead battery, you typically can jump-start your car yourself. Find out what other auto maintenance you can do yourself – and what you should leave to professionals.