How To Jump Start Your Car Battery

By Tim Fox | Car

Jul 23
how to jump start car battery

For all of us, our car is one of the most important things in our lives. So important are these wonders of the modern world that there are over 260 million of them on the roads of America today.  Few of us pay much attention to our cars, provided that they are always there to take us where we want to go. It is only when they don’t that we realize just how important they really are to us. One of the most horrible moments of being a motorist is when you turn the key only to discover your cars battery is dead.

If you have ever had trouble jumping your car’s flat battery, you only need to do a quick search on the internet and you will find loads of sites that claim to know the best way to do so. You might be surprised, however, to discover that many of them are actually wrong and could cause battery damage or even nastyelectric shocks!

Since a flat battery can literally be a matter of life and death, we took it upon ourselves to ask a real expert to get the best advice. Our expert has more than 30 years’ experience, working on a breakdown recovery trucks as well as in a garage, so it’s safe to say he really knows his stuff!

An expert's guide to jump start your car battery

Before you even pop the hood, there are some really important things to consider that most online guides never even mention. First of all, there are lots of reasons a car might be completely dead, not just because the battery is flat.

Electronic failures or overloads could be the cause the outage. The best way to determine if it is the battery or not, is to keep an eye on the ignition lights on the dash as you turn the key. If they come on, but dim as you turn the key to the start position, then your battery is dead. If they don’t come on at all, most likely your problem is the car’s electrical system.

Luckily, most batteries tend to die after at least attempting to turn the starter motor a few times. This is a clear indication of a dying battery as you will hear the car sounding like it’s getting weaker the longer you turn it over.

Before we start

Did you know that most dead batteries are avoidable?

If you want to avoid the horrible feeling of discovering your battery is dead, the good news is that in most cases you can. Firstly, always remember to turn the ignition and lights off when you leave it. Lights that have been left on are the number one cause of flat batteries, so beware!

Car maintenance is as important as taking care of your home.

You should make sure you regularly have your car checked over by a garage to make sure it is in top working order. Leaking electrolyte, for example, will cause a battery to lose a lot of its charge storage capacity. Another example is a badly tuned engine, something that will take more energy to start and so cause your battery to have to work harder.

Cold weather also makes your engine harder to start. When starting a car in cold weather, take extra care not to flood it, should you need to use some throttle to try to get it going. If you do flood it (something that results in a strong gas smell coming out of the tail pipe), give it full throttle and turn it over until it roars to life again.

If you are only using the car for short journey and have an aging battery, try to limit the workload on it. This means not starting the car with the head lights on or leaving them on full beam when the car is idling, for example.

Most of all, remember that batteries don’t just suddenly die. If you notice your car battery starting to sound a little weak then get it replaced as soon as possible.

Make sure you have a set of good quality jumper cables

Should you find yourself with a flat battery, if you don’t have jumper cables or a portable car battery charger, there is no point even getting opening the hood. We cannot emphasize more the importance of getting a good quality set of leads. Since these are items that are often never needed, most people don’t even bother to carry a set, let alone buy good quality ones. But trust us, they really are worth the investment.

Avoid poor quality cables that are made from aluminum as these can melt when used with large cars and diesels that pull a lot of current. Buy decent copper ones instead. Low-quality cables often have flimsy clips and bad insulation that can cause big problems. Try to get thicker cables that will be able to transfer more electricity in one go. This is particularly important for larger vehicles and diesels.

So how to jump start your car battery again

1- Park the car’s front to front or side by side so that the leads can reach without having to pull them tight. Too much tension might cause the clips to flip off.

How to jumpstart car battery -side by side

2- Make sure to turn off both vehicles and secure them with the parking break with the shift in neutral. Also, turn off all lights, wipers and other electronics.

3- Attaching jumper cables. When connecting the jumper cables, ALWAYS connect the red positive lead first before you connect the black negative. Also, make sure to connect the leads to the bad battery first before connecting to the good battery. Most people won’t think of this, but it is a very important safety measure. The reason for this is that the good battery has for more electrical current in it. If you connect that first and then accidentally touch the live positive end for some reason, you will get a shock.

connect jumpstart cable to car battrey

4- Start the car with the good battery and run the engine to between 1000 to 1500 rpm, for about 5 minutes, before attempting to start the car with the empty battery. This will allow the dead battery to get some charge in it first. This is very important because without any charge the battery, the power drawn from the good battery will be much greater than if it the bad battery had some charge in it. Basically, if you don’t do so, the good battery will have to struggle to recharge the completely flat battery while trying to starting the engine at the same time.

5- Once you have the dead battery car started, leave it run a minute or two before disconnecting the leads. This will give the flat battery some time to gain extra charge. Remember to remove the clips from the good battery first and to remove the red cable first.

Check this video to see the step by step done by one expert​.

Do

  • Make sure batteries are both the same voltage
  • Always connect red positive car jumper cable before connecting the negative
  • Make sure to connect jump leads positive to positive (red to red), negative to negative (black to black). Connecting them the other way will cause you to severely damage both batteries.

Don't

  • NEVER attempt to jump start a car on a busy road if you need to stand in the lane that traffic is using. Every year people die doing this. The rule of thumb here is if it doesn’t feel safe, call for emergency help rather than risk your life.
  • Never attempt to jump start a battery that looks frozen or is covered in ice. This can result in an explosion..
  • Don’t ever touch the metal clips on the jump start cables after you have connected them to both cars. This is a live circuit and will give you a severe shock that could result in burns or even cardiac arrest.
  • After you get it started, don’t just drive the car a short distance and turn it off again. This won’t give the battery enough time to charge so you might have to start all over again. Take the car for a run somewhere or use a battery charger as soon as you get home.

Conclusion

Well, there you have it, now you know how to jump start a car battery. Though it might seem a little scary, as long as you follow these steps, remember the jumper cable order and to take care to be careful, jumping your car is a piece of cake.

Though the chances of your battery suddenly becoming flat are quite small, making sure that your car jumpers cable is made of good quality copper and is sufficiently thick will ensure that it never lets you down. Buying a good set might cost you a little more but car jumper cables are an important bit of safety equipment that can really save the day when you most

[…] you in a sticky situation. The major problem is more of the inconvenience of having to repeatedly jump start your car before using it. You can tell if your battery is old by having a look at it. It could be leaking or […]

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