Problem is as stated.

Long story short, sometime around September/early Oct I didn't drive this car for 3-4 weeks. Then when I went to drive it, it wouldn't start. Completely dead, no sound at all. This in itself has been a recurring problem for a while now; a couple of times, even after only two weeks of inaction (mild/warm weather) it wouldn't start, even after getting a new (but cheap) battery. There are some interesting details to this that I'd like to share, to aid speculation on something that has plagued me for years, but I'm trying to keep this short. Suffice it to say such things have caused me to wonder if I perhaps have some inherent problem with my old car (or after-market alarm wiring; there are some clues that this might be a problem) which drains and/or damages a battery.

One of the tires also has a slow leak (that I could've sworn existed before I had the tire replaced last), but I can't really afford to delve into the problem and rarely drive anyway, so I just fill it up every few months or so when it becomes noticeably low. Unfortunately, this time it sat there dead for long enough that the tire went flat flat, and has been that way for a month or more now.

Final notes: I know nothing about cars; I do not know how to nor do I own the proper tools to take a battery out myself, and quite frankly the thought is pretty anxiety-inducing anyway (even jumping is stressful because I'm quite convinced I'll eventually touch the wrong thing and melt my brain). I also do not maintain the car very often or probably properly, although this is tempered by the fact that I don't drive it very often either. I tried to start it and take it for short drives every week or so over the years but I can't honestly say I've been the best with that. I think the fluids were at least checked by my friend about 10 months ago when we last replaced the battery, and were declared fit, and the car had its last professional (dealer) cleaning and maintenance and such prob < 2 years ago. I'd be surprised if I've added even 1k miles to it since then, but I can't say I've kept track.

So all that being said, I need to take care of this on my own and soon, so I just bought a self-Jump starter kit and a tire inflator that should arrive this weekend. I need to drive the car/battery over to O'Learys for testing and potential replacement, but to drive, I need to inflate the tire. But to inflate the tire, I need a working battery, since it plugs into the cigarette lighter, from what I can tell.

My question is, then: how should I go about this? Am I going to be able to read some (what I assume are not unnecessarily complicated) instructional manuals for my new tools, and then be fine self-jumping and inflating off the same, was-just-super-dead-a-few-minutes-ago battery? Or will I have problems charging the battery/providing power to the inflator (car can only idle with the flat tire)? Beyond that, is there anything else of which I need to be aware? i.e.: is the gas/oil/everything else still okay after this amount of time, etc? Is the flat tire going to return to it's "slow leak" state so I can drive on it to the battery place, or is it possibly proper-f**ked now after sitting for so long? If so, is there any way to tell beyond trying to inflate it and (I assume) seeing something going obviously and horribly wrong? AM I MAYBE GOING TO TOUCH THE WRONG THING AND MELT MY PRECIOUS, DELICIOUS BRAIN!? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SOMEBODY PLEASE say something comforting and then tell me what to do.

Thank you in advance for any help anyone can provide. If it's okay for me to provide some more potentially interesting details about possible connections between the alarm and battery problems, let me know and I'll do so.

  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Commented Dec 27, 2018 at 23:45

1 Answer 1


The self-jump-start kit sounds like a booster pack, with a built in battery. They work well, follow the instructions exactly. Usually positive cable to positive first, then neg-neg.
My booster pack has a cigarette lighter outlet. You could power your inflator using the booster pack if so equipped, or connect the wires. Your car may be drawing power even as it sits, killing the battery slowly. Normal practice is to disconnect the battery negative terminal if the car will sit for a while.
If you have difficulties, please give car and booster model numbers.

  • Completely forgot to tend to this. Was able to get the car started using the "boost" option and two tries. No cig-lighter outlet but was able to get another car to pump my tire for me. O'Reillys said the battery was indeed bad but that still could be caused by long-term sitting and parasitic drain of some sort. Don't think I have the tool needed to disconnect anything on a battery myself, also still worried about touching stuff in there. Is 2 weeks too long to let a brand new battery sit in a car that may have some small parasitic drain (alarm is off so cant imagine it's large).
    – Swerve
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 2:20
  • 1
    Here are some tips. Almost every car has the negative battery post connecting directly to ground. Remove the negative cable from the battery and every other operation can then be done safely. The positive terminal cannot spark as long as the negative terminal has nothing connecting to it. Consider the negative terminal as your ON-OFF switch for the battery. You need to charge the battery (using the car alternator or by plug-in charger) then determine if the battery goes flat by itself or through the wiring. Check my comment to the question "Battery drain suspect parasitic battery drain."
    – John Canon
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 5:14
  • I got the battery replaced, it was still under warranty. So the current battery is brand new. Just to be clear, I do need a certain size wrench to remove the negative terminal, yes? Like, I can't just go out and slip it off by hand? I'm familiar with the gist of parasitic drain checks, but I'm not familiar enough with fuses and such to do it myself. Unfortunately not in a position to pay. I drove today after it sat for 8 days and it started smoothly, so fingers crossed, no drain problem. Trying to take a 6m trip once per weekish. Thanks for all your input, I really appreciate it.
    – Swerve
    Commented Jan 22, 2019 at 8:06

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