At some point in your “driving career”, you’ll probably run into a situation where you need to have your car jump started. Like a flat tire, this can occur without warning and can definitely cause an inconvenience. Luckily, jump starting a car is fairly easy, and generally won’t cause any issues if you’re prepared. Knowing what to do beforehand is one great way to ensure you don’t panic or stress out in such a situation. Here are some guidelines and tips on how to jumpstart a car.
The Basic Process
In order to successfully jump start a car, you’ll basically be creating a circuit that connects the electric power current from the good or “live” battery to the “dead” one. To do this safely, with both cars off, you’ll need to:
- Connect the red or positive (+) end of the jumper cable to the positive post on the dead battery
- Connect the other positive end of the jumper cable to the positive post of the good battery
- Connect one of the black or negative (-) ends of the jumper cable to the negative post of the good batter
- Connect the remaining negative end of the cable to the a metal part of the car that is not painted and far from the battery. This is called “grounding” the circuit, which will prevent sparks. If you connect directly to the dead battery, you could risk an explosion.
Make sure the cables aren’t touching any engine parts that they’re not supposed to be touching
Once this setup is complete, you can start the “good” car and have it idle for about 5-10 minutes to begin charging the dead battery. After this, attempt to start the dead battery. If this is unsuccessful, let the battery charge a few more moments and try again.
Reverse these steps once the car is successfully started. You may wish to run through these in your head periodically so you always stay prepared. Also, basic battery care can help prevent dead batteries in the future.
The Do’s and Don’ts for Jump Starting a Car
Now that you have some idea about how jumpstarting a car works, here are a few more tips to ensure a safe and successful jumpstart-
- Make sure the jumper cables are in good working order (clean, no frays or exposed wire)- this is for your own safety
- Make sure you’re safe with the other party jumping your car (or with a car you’re jumping)- if you don’t feel safe with the other person, you’re not obligated to help them or receive help from them; call a tow truck service for a jump. In other words, beware of stranger danger!
- Read the owner’s manual before jumpstarting to identify any warnings or specific issues with a batter
- Turn off major functions that use the battery, such as the headlights, turn signals, hazard lights, and the radio
- Unplug accessories from the car as they can be shorted out during the jumpstart process (for instance, a phone or tablet plugged into a car charger)
- Wear protective gear if possible, such as rubber gloves and goggles
- Let the cars touch each other during the process (though they should be close enough for the cables to reach)
- Smoke during the jump starting process
- Jumpstart the battery if the fluids might be frozen; it could result in an explosion (probably not a concern here in sunny San Diego, but do watch out if you’re traveling on the road elsewhere)
- Get near the battery or lean over it when jumpstarting the car
Understand Why You Needed a Jump
Lastly, you should always do a quick overview to discover how the battery died. Did you leave your headlights on? Did you leave the cabin lights or a turn signal on? All of these things can drain the battery, especially if it’s done overnight. Or, was the battery old and in need of replacement? Were the battery terminals dirty or corroded?
In many cases, a dead battery is the result of poor car care habits. By doing a quick recap like this, you can identify steps you can take in the future to avoid a dead battery situation.
Proper car care also involves bringing your car in for a complete checkup and tune-up. If your car needs a regular check up, or specific services, stop by Convoy Auto Repair, San Diego’s favorite auto repair shop. We offer complete services to help ensure that your car starts up without issue and continues to run consistently.