Knowing how to jump start a car is a valuable skill for any car owner. Almost everyone has had the experience of not being able to start theirs, and the cause is often a dead battery. This may happen because you left your lights on by mistake or simply because the battery is old and out of juice.
When your vehicle battery isn’t working, there can be several causes. Sometimes you’ll need a new part or something complicated such as engine repair, but it’s always worthwhile to try jump starting a stalled car first. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about this basic but very important auto maintenance skill.
The Basics of Jump Starting a Car
Jumping a car is a simple process that allows you to start a vehicle with a dead battery. You’ll need another working vehicle and jumper cables. An alternative method is to use a portable battery charger or jump box. Jumper cables are cables you attach to your car’s battery terminals and to those of another running car. You can buy them at any auto parts store and many other large stores, as well as online.
Precautions Before You Start
Here are a few basic safety precautions to keep in mind before jump starting a car.
- Consult your owner’s manual for any special instructions.
- Only use jumper cables that are in good working condition. For example, don’t use them if the insulation is stripped away.
- Don’t attach jumper cables to corroded or damaged batteries.
- Make sure the clamps of your jumper cables don’t touch.
Giving the car a jump start will either get your car started or at least eliminate the battery as the culprit. If you try a jump and it doesn’t work, you should call a towing company and have your vehicle towed to a garage for further investigation.
7 Steps to Jump Start a Car
Jump starting a car is a simple process. However, in order to do it safely and effectively, it’s important to follow the correct procedure. Here are the steps:
1. Try to Start Your Car
This is a preliminary step to make sure you actually need a jump start. If your car doesn’t start, give it a few minutes and try again. If you know anything about car maintenance, you can also pop the hood and look for any obvious issues such as a disconnected wire.
2. Find Another Vehicle
The trickiest part of jump starting a car is often finding someone to help you. You need another operating vehicle and a driver who’s willing to take the time. If you don’t have jumper cables, you’ll also need a driver who has them. You could call a friend or family member with a car, or you can ask other motorists who are nearby.
3. Open the Hoods of Both Cars
Have the running vehicle park as closely as possible to the front of your car. Open the hood of each car and locate the batteries. Car batteries are sometimes protected with protective coverings. In this case, remove the coverings so the batteries of both cars are exposed. The car with the working battery should be shut down prior to the jump start. The parking brakes of both cars should be on.
4. Identify the Battery Terminals
It’s crucial to identify the positive terminal and negative terminal of each car battery. In most cases, the positive terminals are red and the negative terminals are black. These colors correspond to the red and black handles of jumper cables. However, not all vehicles follow this color scheme. There should be a plus sign (+) to indicate the positive terminal and a minus (-) sign to indicate the negative terminal. Positive terminals are usually larger.
5. Attach the Jumper Cables
The most important part of the process is to correctly attach the jumper cables to the battery terminals. Here is the correct process:
- Connect one of the red clamps of a jumper cable to the positive terminal of your battery.
- Connect the other end of the same cable to the positive terminal of the other vehicle (or your portable battery charger).
- Connect the black (or negative) jumper cable clamp to the negative terminal of the working vehicle.
- Don’t connect it to the black terminal of the dead battery, which is a common mistake. Instead, connect it to an unpainted metal surface of your car, not too close to a battery terminal. This is a safety measure that provides grounding for the jump.
Make sure all clamps are in the correct place and attached securely before proceeding.
6. Start the Operating Vehicle
Have the driver of the vehicle with the good battery start their engine. The engine should remain running for a few minutes to give the dead battery a chance to recharge. Then try to start your own engine.
7. Remove the Jumper Cables
After the jump start — regardless of whether it was successful — you should remove the jumper cables from both vehicles in the reverse order of how you attached them. Start by removing the black clamp attached to a metal area of your car. Then remove the black clamp from the operating car, the red clamp from the car with the good battery, and, finally, the clamp from the car with the (hopefully formerly) dead battery. If the jump start was successful, you can keep your engine running and drive away. If not, it’s time to arrange for towing service.
Once you’ve jump-started a car or two, you’ll find these steps are fairly straightforward. The most important part of the operation is to pay close attention to how you connect and disconnect the cables.
Jump Starts Can Save You Lots of Trouble
Knowing how to jump a car is quite helpful when your battery dies. It doesn’t solve every mechanical problem, but it will get you back on the road quickly if your only issue is a dead battery. To be prepared, make sure you have jumper cables with you at all times.
Contact Geyers Towing today to speak with an expert regarding any questions you might have about jump starting a car.