Battery Dead? Know How to Jump Start a Car

How to jump start a car – you should know this in the first step. If you’ve ever been in a situation where your car won’t start, you already know how important it is to know how to jump start a car. Below, the Bob Moore Auto Group has put together everything you need to know. Read on to learn the right way to jump-start a car.

If your car battery has died, you might be able to use jumper cables and a good Samaritan’s car to get it going again. If you can safely use jumper cables on your car, make sure the good Samaritan’s car has a battery with at least as much voltage as yours. As long as you connect the cables correctly, it doesn’t matter if your car has negative ground and the other car has a positive ground or if your car has an alternator and the other car has a generator.

Now we are going to talk about how to jump start a car. Here is everything you need to know.

How to Tell If Your Battery Is Dead

Before you try how to jump start a car, you should make sure that the battery isn’t the problem. If you turn the key and hear the engine start-up, you don’t have a dead battery, and jump-starting it won’t help you one bit. But if you turn the key and the car doesn’t do anything, it’s likely that the battery is dead. Jump starting the battery may be the only way to get back on the road.

What do you Need to Jump a Car?

Almost every driver will have to jump-start a dead battery at least once. Here’s what you’ll need to jump-start your car before you can charge it and get going:

  • Jumper cables
  • Either a portable jump battery (called a “jump box”) or another car.

Jumper cables are long wires with thick insulation and clips on one or both ends. The positive and negative polarity display the color of the clips, which are usually red and black. The red clip looks good. The black clip shows something bad.

Jump boxes are portable batteries that can be used with special jump cables to jump-start a car. These cables go straight from the jump battery to the dead car battery. When helping a car that has broken down, roadside assistance usually uses a jump box.

What You Need to Know About Batteries and How to Jump Start a Car

The bigger bumps on the ends of car batteries are called terminals. There are two ends: one that is positive and one that is negative. Each one should be easy to find. For the circuit to work and the dead battery to get power, it is important to connect the cables to the right terminal.

Positive Terminal – Usually, the positive terminal is the larger of the two. It says “POS” or “+” on it. It will hook up to the red clip on the jumper cable that says “positive.”

Negative Terminal: “NEG” or “-” is usually written on the negative terminal of a battery. This will connect to the black clip on the other side.

As long as you know how to do that and have jumper cables, you should be able to get your battery going again.

How to Jump Start a car

If your car won’t start because the battery is dead, all you need is another car and the cables to connect them. Keep a set of jumper cables in your car at all times in case you or someone else needs a boost. Once you have both of these things, here’s how to jump start a car:

Bring the Engines Close

First, move the car engine that is working close to yours. Either parallel to your car or facing it is fine, but the engines should be no more than two feet apart.

Shut off Power:

Next, turn off both cars.

Connect Positive to Positive

Start by connecting the positive (usually red) clamps of the jumper cables to the positive terminals of your battery. Often, these are marked, but sometimes it’s hard to see them. Make sure you look closely to make sure you’re connecting to the right part of the battery.

Connect Negative to Negative

Connect the jumper cable’s negative (usually black) clamps to the dead battery’s negative terminal. In your car, stick the negative end of the battery to a metal surface that hasn’t been painted.

Safety First

Remember that you should always start with the dead battery when connecting the positive cables to the batteries. If you put power into the cables before they are connected to your battery, you could endanger your safety. If you ever feel uncertain or unsafe, you should call for help instead of putting your safety at risk.

Start the Working Car

Start the vehicle that is working. You can put some gas in the engine and let it run for a couple of minutes to charge the battery.

Start your Car

You can start your car while it’s still hooked up. Give it a minute if it doesn’t start right away, and then try again.

Disconnect the Cables

Carefully unhook the cables in the opposite order of how they were put in the cars. Disconnect the negative cable from your car, then the negative cable from the other car, the positive cable from your car, and finally the positive cable from the other car.

Don’t forget that your battery charges as you drive. After you get your car started, you might want to take the scenic route to your destination to give the battery time to charge. Even if your battery jumps and charges, the fact that it died in the first place is a sign that you need a new one. You should take your car to a nearby mechanic as soon as you can.

Additional Options for How to Jump Start a Car

If the traditional way of jump-starting your car doesn’t work, you have two other ways to get your battery going:

Battery Pack Jumping:

The alternative to the traditional jump is to buy a battery jumper pack, which is a portable battery with cables that can jump-start your car. Make sure to carefully follow the instructions that come with this battery, as each device is made differently.

Mechanic Valet and Pickup/Drop off:

The last choice is to call in a professional. AAA is a reliable roadside service that can find you and charge your battery. If you don’t have a membership, you can contact a mechanic who offers a pick-up/delivery service. Even though you’ll need to be able to drive your car, these experts can replace or fix your battery and bring your car back to you when it’s ready.

How to Jump Start a Car With Cables

So you’re in a situation where jumper cables are the only way to get a car’s battery to start again. Here’s what you need to do and how to jump start a car with cables.

Before you connect the two cars, you should check the batteries to make sure they are not damaged. If the terminals are broken or there is a buildup of acid around them. You should probably get a new battery. If you can, just buy a new battery instead of trying to jump-start it. If you’re in a situation where you need to jump-start the battery, be very careful when you connect it to the other car.

Hines says that if a battery is bigger than it should be, you could have an even bigger problem on your hands. Most car batteries have a liquid inside that is mostly water and partly sulfuric acid. Over time, the acid can lose its power until most of the liquid is just water. That means that if it’s left out in the cold. It can freeze and get bigger. 

It’s also a good idea to check the cables for signs of damage or wires that are sticking out. You want to make sure they can connect the two-car batteries well without shorting out on another part of the car.

What’s next? Once the cars are parked close enough together that they can be linked, make sure that both cars are completely off. Yes, that also includes the car whose battery was dead. Hines says, “If the dead car’s ignition is on, you have more than just a dead battery.” “So when you connect [the bad car] to the good one, sparks will fly, and sparks are scary.”

How to Jump Start a Car Without Cables

If you have a standard transmission car, you can jump-start that bad boy without using cables. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Find a stretch of clear downhill road.
  2. Fully depress the clutch and put the car in first gear.
  3. Turn the ignition on.
  4. Take your foot off the brake and start rolling down the hill, leaving the clutch fully depressed.
  5. Coast down the hill until you reach 5-7 miles per hour.
  6. Release the clutch quickly. You should feel the engine turn and start. It doesn’t start the first time, depress the clutch, and releases it again.
  7. If you don’t have a hill, get some of your buddies to give you a push and follow the steps above.

If Your Car Won’t Jump Start

What should you do if your car won’t start? It’s time to figure out what’s wrong!

Do you hear a sound like a click? There may be something wrong with your starter.
Your electricity still works, right? You might have a problem with the starter, the battery, the ignition switch, or a fuse.

Did your car die right after you got it to jump? Try again, but this time make sure to let your car run for longer after the jump. This lets your battery fully charge.

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Jump Start a Car

What If the Car Dies After You Remove the Cables?

Hines says that if your car won’t stay running after you disconnect the wires, the charging system is probably broken. Your alternator could be going bad, or one of the belts or pulleys on your engine could be broken. Check the engine bay for any damage, and if you can’t fix the problem, talk to a professional.

How Can I Tell If My Battery Is Going Bad?

Most batteries for cars aren’t created to last longer than four or five years. The good news is that your car will give you warning signs before the battery dies for good. If your car is hard to start, won’t start after sitting for a short time, or has dash lights that blink, it’s likely that your battery is dying. Talk to an expert to find out for sure.

Which card do you put the jumper cables on first?

The car whose battery was dead.

Should your car be running when jump starting?

No, you can’t start the car until the cables are on.

Do you remove the jumper cables while the car is running?

You can if you want. Nothing bad will happen.

Can jumping your car hurt your car?

If you do everything right, the answer is no.

Why don’t you connect the negative terminal when jumping a car?

It makes it less likely that a spark will happen.

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