If your battery is dead, you may be able to use jumper cables to start it up. You left your lights on and now you’re stuck. Fortunately, you are a well-prepared driver and have emergency equipment, including jumper cables, in your trunk.
You are ready to bring your car battery back to life. Unfortunately, you stare at the weird alligator clips, wondering how these weird creations will lift your battery from the dead. Although you will learn basic car maintenance in the Driver Edition, not everyone learns how to start a car.
Having the right emergency equipment is a good place to start. You also need to know how to use it. So here is what you need to know how to jump a car. A few simple steps and you will be where you went.
- If either vehicle has an electronic ignition system or is an alternatively fueled vehicle, the use of jumper cables may damage it.
What do you need to jump a car?
Before you can recharge and get going, you need a few basics:
- Jumper cables
- Power source either a portable jump battery (a jump box) or another vehicle
Jumper cables are long, thickly insulated cables with toothed clips on one or both ends. These clips are called alligator clips (because they look like alligator heads). The clips are differentiated by color, usually red and black to indicate positive and negative polarity. The red clip is positive. The black clip is negative.
Jump boxes Portable batteries that can be used to start a vehicle without being connected to another vehicle are supplied with special jump cables. These cables connect the jump battery directly to the dead car battery. A jump box is typically used for roadside assistance when assisting blocked vehicles.
What you need to know about car batteries to jump-start a car
Car batteries have two larger nobs, called terminals. There is a positive and a negative connection. Each should be clearly labeled. Connecting wires to the right terminal are important to complete the circuit and provide power to the dead battery.
- Positive terminal: The positive pole is usually the larger of the two terminals. It is marked with “POS” or “+”. It connects to the positive terminal on the jumper wire, which is usually red.
- Negative terminal: The negative pole of the battery is usually marked with “NEG” or “-“. This will be appended to the other clip, which is usually black.
Cautions when jump starting a car:
- Read the owner’s manual: some cars are not recommended for jump-starting because they have sensitive circuitry
- Do not jump corroded, cracked, leaking, or visibly damaged batteries
- Do not jump frozen batteries
- Do not jump dry batteries
- Do not touch clips together: this is true when connected but get in the habit by never touching the clips together.
How to Jump a Car
Jump-starting a car is usually done from another car, although it can be done from a jump battery. They connect the batteries of the two cars with the jumper cables. Make sure the cars are spaced the correct distance so that the jumper wires can reach each battery. Drag the cars so they are either nose to nose or side by side.
Protect the donor battery
To ensure that the car car donating a charge (the donor car) is protected, take the following precautions:
- Match the kind of voltage system of the donor battery to the dead battery to be jumped. For example, a 6V and a 12V should not be used together.
- Connect alligator clips in the right order.
- Make sure the donor battery is not low.
The order of the connection (red to dead, red to donor, black to dead, black to metal) reduces the likelihood of a short circuit of the good battery.
To quickly check that there is enough voltage for the dispenser, make sure that the car with the jump starter lights is stable and bright when the car is started. When the headlights are dimmed, it can signal that the battery is low.
How to use jump-starting car jumper cables to jump-start a car from another vehicle:
To safely jump a start, follow these steps:
- Take out your jumper cables: It is a good idea to buy a set of jumper cables and store them in the trunk compartment. If you don’t have jumper cables.
- Put both vehicles in Park or Neutral and turn off the ignition in both vehicles. And also apply both parking brakes.
- Attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery. It has “POS” or “+” or it is larger than the negative terminal.
- Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the other car.
- Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal on the other battery.
- Attach the last black clip to an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn’t near the battery. Use one of the metal struts that holds the hood open. The cables should look like this as per shown image.
- Start the working vehicle and let the engine run for a few minutes.
- Try to start your vehicle. If it doesn’t start, make sure the cables are connected properly and let the Good Samaritan run his engine for five minutes. Then try starting your car again. If it still does not start, your battery may be of no help.
After the car is jump started:
Unclip the clips in the reverse order you connected them:
- The black clip on the unpainted metal
- The black clip from the negative terminal
- Red clip from the donor car
- Red clip from the dead car’s battery
Allow the car to run without stopping for at minimum 10-20 minutes.
What if the car doesn’t start after the jump start?
If the dead car doesn’t start after a few minutes of being powered then:
- Check the connections and repeat letting the car giving the jump run.
- Try starting the car again.
- If the car does not start after several attempts, the battery may be too far gone to be jump started.
Emergency Equipment to Keep in Your Trunk:
- Bottled water
- Cable ties
- Emergency blanket
- Freezer bag of cat litter for oil or fluid spills (especially after a crash)
- Jumper cables or jump box
- Meal supplement bars
- Rain poncho
- Reflector roadside hazard triangle
- Screwdriver set
- Solar charger for your cellular phone for emergency calls
- Tire pressure gauge
- Tire jack and spare tire
- Wet wipes for cleaning up messes or staying fresh