If you are attempting to start your car on a busy day, and the car doesn’t start, then most likely, you have a dead battery! As you insert the keys and swish, you hear some irritating clicking sound. The dashboard is entirely black, and there is no sign of hope.
What to do? Should I can a tow truck? Or Should I go to an auto repair shop? What is the next step? Keep reading so you can learn how to jump start a car. You never know when you may have a dead car battery, and your car fails to start.
The battery may have deteriorated and can no longer hold a charge, or there could be other problems. The serpentine belt could be loose or broken, and the alternator may not be generating sufficient electricity to run your engine and keep the vehicle battery fully charged.
Consumers who find themselves in this situation may need to jump-start their battery using jumper cables to jump to another battery or use a portable jump starter. This post covers the safety procedures and the correct way to jump start a car with another one.
How to Prepare to Jump Start a Dead Battery
When it comes to jump starting your car, you have to do it right. All safety precautions must be put in place – as will be elaborated soon. Therefore, before attaching the jumping cables, prepare the setup. You will need a car with a good and fully charged battery, a dead battery still on the car, and jumper cables.
Follow this step by step guide to get ready:
#1 Bring the cars together
The jumper cables are generally short, thick, and well insulated. Therefore, you have to bring the vehicles as close to each other as possible. According to Meineke, the two cars should be separated at least 18 inches or 46 centimeters from each other. Also, apply the parking brake on both vehicles, and that the donor car has a fully charged battery.
#2 Prepare and inspect the jumper cables
Make use of standard jumper cables. You should have one black and well-insulated cable and a red one. Check to make sure that the crocodile clamps at the end of each cable are adequately secured.
#3 Verify the lengths of the jumpers
This is a straightforward but critical step you need to take care of. If the jumper cables to jump the car are not long enough to run between both of them, you need to know. Otherwise, standard cables are generally short but long enough for the task.
#4 Open the hoods for both cars
If you are getting ready, make sure that the hoods are opened and secured correctly. Different cars have different ways of opening and securing the opened bonnet. Ensure that you do it correctly for each of the vehicles.
#5 Locate the batteries for each of the cars
The car batteries for each of the vehicles should be located after opening the bonnets. Sometimes we struggle to find the batteries because we are merely looking in prominent places. If it is not in front, check the user manual to see where they have hidden it.
How to Jump Start a Car Battery Using Jumper Cables
Now that you have the two cars close to each other for the task, it’s time to execute the process. Before you can start, ensure that the two vehicles are not touching.
Now, here is a step by step guide on how you do it:
Step 1: Connect the positive red cable
First, connect the positive cable(red clip) to the positive terminal of the dead car. Then connect the other end to the positive terminal of the charged working vehicle. Please, see to it that the clamps never touch even at this stage and all the way.
Step 2: Connect the negative cable
Now connect one end of the negative or black jumper cable clamps(black clip) to the live car. Next, connect the other black clip to the negative terminal of the vehicle that has the dead battery.
You can also connect the free end of the jumper to the car body, chassis, or some exposed metal surface of the dead car. Note that the positive cable should never the negative terminal of the car batteries.
Step 3: Secure the connections accordingly
When they are connected, it is easy to assume that they are secure. But that is not always correct. Physically test how safe they are. Loose connections on prime components like the battery can be fatal.
Step 4: Run the live car first
With both are securely connected, start the engine and live the car running. To ensure that you have sufficient charging, run the car for a minute or two. While it is running, you can also rev the engine for increased charging rates.
Step 5: Run the dead car second
Now that you have managed to run the car for a minute, stop the engine. Disconnect the negative jumper cable clamps followed by the red positive post. Then try to run the dead vehicle. If it runs, it should have been charged by now. So it should start your engine.
If you can not find another car near you, it will be a good idea to buy a portable jump starter. The process of using a portable jump starter is the same as you use another car, but you don’t need another vehicle. Jump-starter is a big power bank that can bring the battery back to life.
When running the dead car, be patient, and know your vehicle. In some cases, this could take just a single cranking, and the car is back to life! But in other cases, this could make at least more than one attempt. Psychologically, this can be expected.
Jumper Cables Hookup Procedures
The following steps can enable a safe connection of the cables to your car and that of the good Samaritan that is providing their car to help you start your engine.
- Position both cars together with the batteries as close as possible
- Place both cars in park and turn the engine off
- Never allow the jumper cable clamps to touch each other
- Secure the red cable clamp to the positive post of the dead battery
- Connect the red clamp at the other end of the cable to the positive battery terminal on the other car
- Secure the black clip to the negative terminal on the other car (never allow the negative black clamp on the end to touch the red clip to avoid damage and electrical shock to yourself or your car)
- Connect the remaining negative cable clamp securely to an unpainted metal surface of your car away from your battery
- Try starting the engine and let it run for a few minutes before disconnecting them
- Disconnect them in the reverse order being careful to avoid allowing the clamps to touch each other
While your car engine is now running, your battery may still be fully discharged and unable to start your engine once again. Take your car for a drive for at least twenty minutes to recharge the battery. Park the car at a location where you can receive another jump-start if needed.
Turn the engine off and try restarting. If the engine starts, your good to go. If not, there may be other problems which should be examined. For example, missing or loose serpentine belts, a malfunctioning alternator, and other possibilities should be checked by a mechanic.
What to Do When Jump Starting Process Fails?
If this process of jump-starting does not help you run or drive the car, there are a few things you can do. First, don’t panic. Stay calm and make sure every step you take is safe. Here are some things you have to do next:
Charge for more than a minute
Some batteries have slower charging rates. With the life of a battery replenishing as it approaches its expiry date, this is expected. Therefore, to be sure, run the live car for more than a minute and rev. If you are using a portable jump starter, you should let it charge for at least 2 minutes to bring the battery back to life.
Check inspect charging system
If you start your engine and the jump starting process has failed, it could be that the alternator was unable to charge the battery. Therefore, if you have a voltmeter, check how it goes up while the engine is running. If the voltage goes up above 13 volts, then it’s okay. If the voltage remains the same, then the alternator may be faulty.
Battery life has ended
Some batteries are meant to last between 4 and 6 years. Therefore if the drained battery has been working for the past four years or so, it could have reached the end of its life. In such a case, a battery replacement is needed. To avoid any headaches with your battery, make sure you have a working battery.
Check integrity of connections
If there are any open lines in the starting system, they may be causing the problem. One recommendation that Meineke has always talked about is to ensure that the crock clamps are adequately secured and that the black connectors can clamp to the negative pole.
If every trick you have tried seems to be failing, you could be rushing the process. Take heart and make sure you explore every option before finding other industry solutions. It is crucial that you make sure the connections are hooked onto the correct terminals.
Check the Owner’s Manual
The first step is to check the owner’s manual, especially if you have a dashboard light on. You can find everything you need to know about your car inside of the owners manual. Starting from the regular vehicle maintenance intervals, references to any warning lights, and even the correct amount of air pressure for your tires.
If there are no lights on when attempting to start your car, then a dead battery is the most common problem. Try to find a donor car and some jumping cables to jump start your vehicle. Before preparing, you need to understand that the black connectors represent the negative, and the red clamps represent the positive.
Precautions to Ensure a Safe Process
When jump starting a car, there is always a danger of sparks causing damage. Therefore, some of the most important precautions you need to look out for are meant to prevent this damage. They are as follows:
Connect the dead battery first
When connecting the car battery clips, make sure that you start with the dead car. The vehicle does not have the damaging power to cause sparks. If you start with the fully charged one, the risk of things going wrong is high.
Use the correct size
The right size of cables is important because an incorrect size can lead to problems. If it is too thin, there are dangers of heating up and causing other issues. However, sometimes it is best to purchase longer cables in case you are not sure how long the jump start will be.
Jumpers that have been used for a long time have their insulators split open and exposed. When using such, make sure that they are covered with proper insulation tape before you start. This avoids any imminent short circuits.
Avoid the terminals
If within your reach, please put on the correct gloves to insulate your body against electricity. Do not touch the battery terminal with your bare hands. Also, avoid touching the metal surface of the car. Many people don’t see the danger, but especially when dealing with high bride cars, the threat is serious, especially if you need to remove the jumper cables.
Wear goggles to protect your eyes
The last time someone saw me refer to this, he thought I was joking. Yes, wearing glasses is essential because of unforeseen occurrences. Some sparks may fly in your face unexpectedly. You need to protect yourself.
Never connect terminals in reverse
Always countercheck before connecting. Make sure that the red clip is connected to the positive post while the black clip to the negative. If they are swapped, sensitive components can be damaged easily. Make sure that each battery clip is properly connected to the corresponding terminal.
Terminals should never touch
Throughout this operation, practice the separating of the two terminals. They should never meet because it can cause a lot of damage. Never connect the black with the red cable together.
The two cars should never touch
The idea is to bring the two cars as close to each other as possible. But they should not touch. Allowing them to touch would be dangerous to the whole circuit you are making up.
What if I am Jump Starting a Dead Car Battery of a Modern Car?
When a modern car has given you battery problems, don’t just rush to jumpstart. First, if you have any owners manual, read it carefully. Within the manual, you will be shown the right point to connect your negative from the live car.
Otherwise, most of the cars coming on the market are not supposed to be jumpstarted the way other ordinary vehicles are done. The danger is that many small and delicate components would easily get damaged in the process.
Look out for any alternatives or industry solutions to the problem as specified by the manufacturer. Additionally, it could be even safer to bring in a new battery from another source. Otherwise, you can also replace the dead car’s battery in your vehicle before cranking.
Can I jump start a car with a dead battery during cold weather?
You need to be careful because attempting to jump start a car during cold weather can bring some risks. A frozen battery on a jump start can cause damage to the car and to the people around the vehicle.
When you are jump starting a car, you are transmitting electrical current from one car to another. If by any chance, there is water in your battery, it can turn into ice and block the flow of electricity.
Some safety precautions to take into consideration when you are trying to jump start a car during cold weather:
- Connect the red clip to the positive terminal
- Connect the black clip to the negative terminal
- Make sure they have a solid connection
- Each vehicle should have the parking brakes on
- Do not grab the clips with one hand and try to get the hood open with the other one
- Do not allow the red clip and black clip to touch each other
Start the car with the good battery first. If you hear the engine turn over, press the accelerator on the working car. Wait a few seconds and try again until the car is jump started. Once the engine is started, keep it running at an RPM higher than idle to recharge the battery sufficiently.
If you see yourself using the portable jump starter consistently, maybe it is a sign to take the vehicle to a local car care center to get a full diagnose. To start the dead car’s battery, you will need either a powerful jump starter or a donor car with some jumper cables.
Try starting the car after charging the battery. If the car doesn’t start after the fact, then you might have a bad alternator problem. Always remember to connect the red clamps to the positive terminal and the black clamps to the negative terminal or ground. Note that the battery terminals will have the same color as the clamps.
Last, if you have tried jumping the car several times without any success, your car has an alternator problem, an engine block problem, or a bad starter. Make sure that the terminal post of the dead battery is not rusted and the parking brake is on. Usually, when this happens, it is better to replace the old battery with another good battery.