The good thing is that it’s just a battery and we all had our share of battery operated gizmo’s and so most of it should be quit clear.
As all things technical and all (yes, all) people, we always think we don’t understand and if someone tells us “change it” or “buy this” we feel like we’re being played. And so it’s time to put some things out in the open and understand that we do understand…
YES, if you leave your car with the lights on over night the battery will drain. Just like a battery operated flash light that is left on.
YES, if you leave your car unattended for a few weeks with the battery connected (and nothing on!), it will drain. Just like that remote you use once every couple of months and every time it’s battery is dead. When a battery is connected to wires it always has some current leaking out (for the same reason if you leave your phone charger in the socket even with no phone attached, you still pay for power that just dissipates in the lines).
NO, a drained battery is not dead. A Car battery is rechargeable and is being charged when the motor runs. So, if you drained your battery just jump-start your car and keep it running for a bit and recharge it. Check this clip for the “how to” on jump-start http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EX_-v45UwLk
YES, you (or your mechanic) should do some maintenance on the battery. Mainly check and refill the purified water in it. evaporation of the water cause about 50% of premature dead batteries.
YES, even if you check the water level and scrape the corrosion off it will die at some point. The chemical process inside eventually finishes all of it potential and stops, just like a rechargeable AAA battery that has a finite number of cycles in it.
YES, conditions will change the longevity of the battery. Hot climate doesn’t do well to your battery, prolonged times of inactivity the same and surely not maintaining it correctly will shorten it’s life. You can expect about 3 years out of your battery.
YES, there are some signs of a dying battery, like taking a long time to start the car, but to really know you should have it checked by a professional with a battery tester that checks it’s output and load capacity.
So, no reason to feel powerless in the face of a dead battery – it’s just a big rechargeable battery…