A dead car battery is a major inconvenience that can strike at any time. As the temperatures get colder, the likelihood of a dead car battery increases, since low temperatures cause batteries to become more sluggish. Fortunately, a jump start is usually all it takes to revive a dead battery. It is important to be equipped with a quality set of jumper cables in your vehicle, and be prepared with the knowledge of how to use them properly.

While jump starting a vehicle is not complicated, it can be dangerous if not done correctly. You must take precautions to prevent dangerous electric shocks. When you handle the jumper cables, keep in mind that they will be transmitting electrical current from one car to another. Once one end of the jumper cables is connected to a car, do not touch the metal clamps to anything other than the specified components on the other vehicle. It is a good idea to wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear for extra safety. You can keep these items with your jumper cables so you are always prepared.

Preparing for jump starting:

  1. Position the running vehicle so the vehicles face each other, about one to two feet apart. Make sure that the vehicles are not in contact with each other.
  2. Engage the parking brakes on both vehicles. Turn off both vehicles and remove the keys.
  3. Stretch out the jumper cables on the ground, making sure the clamps do not touch each other.
  4. Open the hood to both cars. Referring to the respective owner’s manuals, locate the batteries and battery terminals. In most cases, the two terminals on each battery will be covered in red or black, with a + or – sign on top. Make sure you are able to identify which is positive, and which is negative, as this will be crucial to the success of your jump. Dirty or corroded battery terminals should be cleaned off with a rag or wire brush.

Attaching the jumper cables:

  1. Attach the red, positive cable clamp to the positive (+) battery terminal of the dead battery. Make sure you have a solid connection to the battery terminal.
  2. Attach the red, positive cable clamp on the other side of the jumper cables to the working battery’s  positive (+) battery terminal
  3. Connect the black, negative cable clamp to the working battery’s negative (-) battery terminal. In the vehicle with the dead battery, attach that clamp to a metal part of the car that is unpainted, as far from the battery as the cable will reach. This will ground the circuit and help prevent sparking.
  4. Verify that none of the cables are in contact with engine parts that will move when the engine is started.

Completing the jump start:

  1. Start the engine of the vehicle with the working battery.
  2. Allow the car to run for several minutes.  Depending on the age and condition of the battery, the time required to get the jump to work may vary.
  3. Attempt to start the car with the dead battery. If unsuccessful, allow the working vehicle to charge the battery for a several minutes longer and try again.
  4. Once the disabled vehicle is running again, you can disconnect the jumper cables, starting with the black, negative cable clamps. Never allow the clamps to come in contact with each other while any part of the cables is still attached to a vehicle.
  5. Taking the charged vehicle for a short drive will allow the battery to build up a charge, ensuring vehicle does not die again once you turn it off.

Reasons a jump start may fail:

If the jump fails, or if the car starts but then dies again, there may be other issues that need to be addressed including:

  • Bad fuses
  • Battery condition
  • Faulty alternator
  • Ignition switch issues
  • Bad starter connection

For the inexperienced, jump starting a vehicle can be intimidating. It is wise to be cautious, as the process does involve safety risks if not done correctly. For those who do not feel confident or have no prior experience with jump starting a vehicle, it may be best contact Raben Tire to do the job.