Have you ever gone out to drive to work or home and found that your car won’t turn over? You probably felt frustrated and maybe a little anxious or scared, especially if you weren’t at home. You may have thought it was a good time to have the best portable jump starters on the market sitting in your trunk, but if you don’t, you should understand how to jump-start your car.
Understanding Jumper Cable Components
Jumper cables have two sets of clips on each side of a long wire. They have a red and black clamp on each side. The red clamp transfers a positive charge, while the black clamp transfers a negative charge.
Preparing the Vehicles
Before you get your car jumper cables out, you need to position your vehicles so they are engine-to-engine. They need to be close enough so the cables fit between the batteries. Then, turn off both vehicles and open the hoods. Remove the keys, set the emergency brakes and turn off your radio, lights and heater or air conditioner.
Preparing the Batteries
Identify the battery terminals, distinguishing the positive from the negative, on both vehicles. The posts should have a positive (+) or negative (-) symbol, and their covers should be either red or black, distinguishing their charge. Then, look at the terminals to determine if they need cleaning before you attach the cables. If they do, take a wire brush or rag and brush off any corrosion.
Ensuring a Solid Connection & Safe Disconnection
Connect the red clamp to the dead battery’s positive post. Make sure that the attachment is solid and secured. It should not wiggle off. Then attach the red clamp on the other side of the cables to the positive post in the charged battery. Then, secure the black clamp on the first side to the negative post on the dead battery. Finally, secure the black clamp on the other side to the negative post to the charged battery.
After charging the dead battery, you will remove the clamps in the opposite order. First, remove the black clamp from the charged battery and then from the previously dead battery. Then, remove the red clamp from the charged battery and then from the previously dead battery.
Starting the Vehicles and Driving
To charge the battery, before disconnecting the cables, start the car with the charged battery. Let it run for a few minutes to charge the dead battery. If it doesn’t start right away, remove your key and let the battery charge for longer. It could take up to 15 minutes or more to get enough charge to start your battery. Then, remove your cables as stated above.
After your car starts, keep it running for at least 30 minutes. If you shut it off too quickly, your battery may not charge enough to restart. Therefore, sit with it idling for a while, and drive it for a while before you turn it off again.
If your car never starts, you may need a new battery or have other mechanical problems.
If you find yourself in areas without many people, you may consider purchasing a jump box so you can jump-start your own vehicle without additional help.