When you sit down in your van, step on the brake, and turn the key, you expect something to happen. You expect your van to crank up, but sometimes, you’ll get that ominous clicking sound. That clicking sound, or even worse, silence, usually means that your battery is dead. That’s pretty simple, you just need to get a jump; however, if you’re not going very far you might not drive enough to charge your battery. That’s the inherent problem. The word “dead” is used for battery in several different ways. It can mean a battery that simply needs a charge, but it can also mean a battery that can no longer hold a charge.
Your best bet is to get someone to give you a jump so you can get your van home. The jumping process is simple. You’ll need a pair of jumper cables and a good Samaritan. Connect like-posts on your batteries with the jumper cables, red to red and black to black. Sometimes the rubber covers have slipped off, so you just need to connect positive to positive and negative to negative. Let the battery charge for a minute or so to build up the electrical charge. Get in your car and try to crank it. If it doesn’t crank, let it sit for another minute or two. Start it up. After you start it, let it sit for about a minute so the charge builds up enough to keep the car running.
If your car dies again on the way home, there is a problem with your alternator. The alternator has gone out and is no longer charging the battery. If it drives fine all the way home, it’s time to troubleshoot your battery.
Open the Lids
If you have a “maintenance-free” battery, you cannot do this step. You can find van batteries at many websites; you’re probably better off just buying a new one. However, with the majority of batteries, you will need to open the hood of your van. Make sure the engine and the battery have cooled down for a long time if you have been driving. You’ll want to open the lids on the battery so you can look into the cells. If they’re wet, then the cells are not the problem. If they’re dry, pour distilled water into the cells and then replace the lids.
Clean the Connections
If you notice a lot of gunk and corrosion on the battery posts and terminals, you might just need to clean these off. Make sure that the car is turned off and you have a plastic or rubber handled screwdriver. Remove the battery cables. Use a wire brush to clean off any metal parts. You can use a mixture of one cup of water and two teaspoons of baking soda to help clean off the corrosion.
Let this dry, then charge your battery. If that doesn’t work, you’re just going to need a new battery. They’re easy to find, and it’s likely one of these solutions would only be temporary anyway. Unless you want to get really strong from pushing your van, you should probably look into replacing any battery that dies even if you can temporarily revive it.