Auto Repair: How To Jump Start A Car

How to jump-start your car to keep yourself from being stranded.

After an enjoyable evening out with friends, you walk to your car, open the door, and immediately sense something is amiss. You sit in the drivers seat and put the keys into the ignition. You turn the key expecting to hear the engine rumble to life, but nothing happens. Glancing over to the headlight switch, you notice it is in the "╦ťon' position, where you left it hours ago, and realize that your battery is dead. What do you do?

For this situation, the easiest and quickest method for getting your car back in working order is to jump-start it from the battery of another vehicle. The only items you will need will be a set of jumper cables, (an emergency item that you should always keep available in the trunk of your car for these types of situations) and another vehicle from which to draw battery power.

One quick note on safety: if possible, position yourself clear of passing vehicles as you proceed. While this might seem obvious, when you are caught up in getting your vehicle up and running, you may forget where you are in relation to other moving vehicles and could end up exposing yourself to danger unnecessarily.

First, make sure everything in your car is turned off: lights, ignition, windshield wipers, and anything else that might be running off of battery power. Activate your hood release and lift the hood. As a measure of preventative maintenance, make sure your battery terminals remain free from corrosion, which can be done with a small wire brush, and your cables are fasted securely to the battery. Loose battery wires can cause similar conditions to a dead battery and can be remedied by tightening the bolts on the battery terminal.

After determining that it is a dead battery, and you have gotten someone to assist you with his or her vehicle, look to see which side your battery is on in the engine compartment. Ask which side the battery is on in the vehicle who will be providing the jump, so that there is enough jumper cable to reach both batteries.

Prior to attaching the jumper cable clamps to the battery terminals, make sure that they do not touch, especially after one end is hooked to the car supplying power, since this will cause sparking and could result in burns. Each end of the jumper cables should have a clamp with a red grip, and one with a black grip. The one with the red grip is the positive clamp and the one with the black grip is the negative clamp. Place the clamp with the red handle on the positive terminal of the vehicle supplying power, often indicated by a plus sign near the post, then place the clamp with the red handle on the opposite side of the cable to your battery. Again, be very careful not to allow the clamps to touch, and be sure that positive is attached to positive, and negative is attached to negative. Take the clamp with the black handle and attach it to the negative terminal, indicated by a negative sign near the post, on the vehicle rendering assistance followed by the same process on your vehicle.

You now have everything in place for a successful exchange of power. Allow the assisting vehicle to remain running for several minutes in order to charge the dead battery in your vehicle. Once a sufficient period of time has passed, which will vary depending on how dead the battery is in your car, you may start your vehicle. Detach the jumper cables in the reverse order of how you attached them, taking care to not let the clamps touch until completely detached, and return them to your trunk or vehicle storage compartment. Keep your vehicle running for several minutes more so that the alternator in your car can completely recharge the battery. You should now have returned your car to full working condition and can proceed safely and with full confidence.

© High Speed Ventures 2011