Jump-starting a car is a pretty simple procedure, but it’s an important one to know! Whether you’re helping out a friend or jumping your own vehicle, it’s a skill that’ll come in handy often. Jump-starting can seem intimidating if you don’t know the first thing about it, but by the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to take it on.
STEP 1: TRY TO DETERMINE WHY YOUR CAR BATTERY DIED.
The most common reason why batteries die is from lights that are left on overnight, so check that first. Other common causes include an interior light that won’t shut off because of a faulty door latch or trunk switch, a bad alternator, or maybe even a subwoofer, poorly installed stereo system, or car alarm leeching power due to a short circuit. If you’re unable to find the cause and your car battery dies often, it’s worth bringing your car in to have a professional mechanic diagnose the problem. It can be dangerous to ignore this problem - especially if you end up on the side of a busy highway with a dead battery.
STEP 2: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB.
The first tool you can use is standard jumper cables, which you’ll use to connect to another vehicle’s battery to tap into their power source. Jumper cables come in various lengths, so you’ll want to choose the right size for you. Standard jumper cables require you to park the two vehicles face-to-face. If you do happen to be on a busy highway, it can be dangerous to attempt to park like this. This is when extended jumper cables would come in handy so that you can park nose-to-tail instead. In either case, make sure the vehicles are parked close to each other, but not touching. Keep in mind that thicker cables will transmit electricity more efficiently. The last thing to note when purchasing jumper cables are the clamps. Solid copper clamps are recommended over copper-plated clamps, as the copper-plated ones can wear down over time and make it much harder to jump start your car battery.
The second tool you can use is a portable power pack. This pack is a self-contained battery that you keep charged and ready-to-use, either in your trunk or your garage. Just attach the pack to your car’s battery, and you’ll be back on the road in no time at all! A huge benefit of using a portable power pack is that you don’t have to wait for someone to come to your rescue.
STEP 3: CONNECT THE CABLES
No matter which tool you use to jump start your vehicle, it’s essential to learn how to connect to your vehicle's engine properly.
- First, place both vehicles in either Park or Neutral, engage both parking breaks, and turn off both ignitions.
- Locate your battery (most vehicle batteries are under the hood, but some are in the trunk).
- Take a red clamp and attach it to the positive terminal on the working battery first. The positive terminal will either say “POS” or “+” on it or else will be bigger than the negative terminal. Then attach the red clamp on the opposite end of the cable to the dead battery.
- Connect a black clamp to the negative terminal on the working battery, and then attach the black clamp on the opposite end of the cable to the chassis of your car. You can technically connect this clamp to the negative terminal on the dead battery, but this can cause sparks to fly, which will be dangerous if your battery is venting flammable gases. Connecting to the chassis of the car is safer and provides you with a stronger ground.
- If you’re using a battery pack, follow the same steps above: connect positive cable to the positive terminal first, and the negative cable to chassis or negative terminal.
- Start the booster car's engine (or your battery pack) and let it idle for a few minutes, and then start the dead car's engine and let it idle for a few minutes as well.
STEP 4: DISCONNECT THE CABLES
- Disconnect the black jumper cable from the once-dead car first. Then, disconnect the black jumper cable from the booster car.
- Remove the red jumper cable from the booster car next, and then remove the red jumper cable from the once-dead car last.
- Your vehicle's alternator should now kick in and continue charging the battery, so you are in the clear to drive again.
So now you have the knowledge you need to make this task a breeze! We hope this article helped you. If your battery continues to go dead, contact our expert mechanics and they'll get that problem straightened out for you in no time at all.