You are getting up in the morning, getting ready in a frenzy to get to work on time while dropping kids at school on the way, getting in the car, turning on the ignition and hearing nothing but a few clicking and clunking sounds? Sure we’ve all been there, especially during the winters. But your car’s battery can die in the middle of summers too. And this happens for a variety of reasons – from leaving your parking lights on to forgetting to switch off your car’s radio.
In these situations, your first instinct is to call for help. But did you know you can help yourself in such situations with some basic knowledge and tools and be on the road in no time?
In my opinion, every person should know how to jump-start a car’s battery. Jumping a car battery is simple, but you will be surprised about the number of people that don’t know how to do it. Even if you have learned how to do it, you can easily forget the steps since this is not required regularly unless you have a very old or faulty battery.
To help you avoid looking like a helpless driver and to prevent you from electrocuting yourself, this article will provide you with a step by step guide on how to jump-start a car battery.
The first step is to get a car that runs and pull it up to the car with a discharged battery so the jumper cables can reach both batteries. You have to make sure that both cars are separated and don’t touch each other when you do this. You also want to make sure that you take the keys out of the ignition for both the vehicles. For each of our vehicles, we want to find where the battery is located and find the positive and negative terminals. Usually, the wire leading to the positive terminal is red and the negative is black.
Now take your jumper cables and spread them out to have one red and one black in each hand. After this step, we don’t want the jumper cables to touch each other at all. The first thing we are going to do is take the one side of the jumper cables; we’re going to get a red cable which is a positive and connect it to the positive side of the discharged battery. Make sure you get a good connection on that battery terminal. If you want, you can wiggle it around a little bit just to make sure the clamp of the cable is tight and snug.
The reason why we connect the red cable to the discharged battery first is that the discharged battery doesn’t have as much energy as the good battery. Starting from here is the safest option. Now take the black clamp of the cable and place it anywhere on a plastic piece in the engine bay, so it doesn’t slip and touch any part of the battery or any unpainted metal surface. You don’t want your negative cable touching any bare metal because then you’ll be grounding it out.
Now we are going to go over to the good battery. We’re going to grab both of our cables just like we did before and make sure not to touch them together. We’re going to take our red cable and put it on the positive terminal usually the one with the red cap.
At the good battery, we are going to grab the black cable, and we’re going to attach it to our negative side.
Now we have the black cable and the red cable on the good battery attached. Back at the discharged battery, this is the last lead we have to attach, but you aren’t going to attach it to the negative battery terminal. Touching it to the negative battery terminal will cause a spark, and these parts can ignite fumes from the battery and cause an explosion. Batteries can create hydrogen gas especially when they run down and are not working properly, and hydrogen gas is explosive so to play it safe just find another grounding point. Some cars have a ground spot away from the battery specifically for jumping your car so check your owner’s manual. If not, find a better piece of metal for ground that isn’t a moving part and that isn’t attached to an electrical component.
So, when looking for ground you want to try to find something that’s bare metal. A good spot to look is on the engine or strut tower which is bare metal so we’re going to attach it to that. The other good thing is that the strut towers are away from the battery, so we don’t have to worry about sparks, but there’s tons of ground that you could use in this case. This is just one of them and make sure you have a good connection.
So now that all the cables have been attached make sure your cables are out of the way. Insert your key in the ignition of the car with the charged battery and start it and let it run for 2-5 minutes. Now insert the keys in the car with the discharged battery, and it should start right up.
Now right away you want to go and take off the negative terminal first, and then remove the positive terminal on the discharged battery. Make sure these don’t touch then you remove the cables. Now your car is started.
Let’s say your car doesn’t start even after connecting the cables and waiting 2-3 minutes. The car cranks but still doesn’t start. You can leave the car started with the charged battery for 5 minutes and then rev the engine a little bit and keep it maintained at about 2000 RPM. What this does is that it makes the alternator spin faster and you will now have more power to start the car. If your car doesn’t start after this either then it is likely that your car’s battery is permanently dead.
Another method to jump-start a car battery is to use a portable jumper. The plus point with that is that you don’t have to rely on anybody to be there to help you jump your car. You could do it yourself with any of these portable jumpers, but before starting make sure it is in the off position. Take your red jumper cable to connect it to the positive terminal and then take your black jumper cable and connect directly to the battery. There’s no need to connect to a separate ground like we did when we jump the car because there’s an on-off switch. There’s no electrical current going through these jumpers. If you want to you can touch the two jumpers together and nothing will happen. Now all you have to do is turn the key in the ignition, and the car should start up easily.