If your battery has died, you may be able to use jumper cables to jump start it from some good Samaritan’s vehicle. If you can safely use jumper cables on your vehicle, make sure that the battery on the good Samaritan’s vehicle has at least as much voltage as your own. As long as you hook up the cables properly, it doesn’t matter whether your vehicle has negative ground and the GS’s vehicle has positive ground, or your vehicle has an alternator and the GS’s vehicle has a generator.
If either vehicle has an electronic ignition system or is an alternatively fueled vehicle, the use of jumper cables may damage it.
To safely jump a start, follow these steps:
- Take out your jumper cables.It’s a good idea to buy a set of jumper cables and keep them in the trunk compartment. If you don’t have jumper cables, you have to find a good Samaritan who not only is willing to assist you but who has jumper cables as well.
- Place both vehicles in Park or Neutral and shut off the ignition in both cars.Engage both parking brakes as well.
- Attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery.It has “POS” or “+” on it, or it’s bigger than the negative terminal.
- Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the other car.
- Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal on the other battery.
- Attach the last black clip to an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn’t near the battery.Use one of the metal struts that holds the hood open.The cables should look like this.Make sure to connect jumper cables in the proper order.
- Start the working vehicle and let the engine run for a few minutes.
- Try to start your vehicle.If it won’t start, make sure that the cables are properly connected and have the good Samaritan run his or her engine for five minutes. Then try to start your car again. If it still won’t start, your battery may be beyond help.
If the jump works and your car starts, don’t shut off your engine! Drive around for at least 15 minutes to recharge your battery. If the car won’t start the next time you use it, the battery isn’t holding a charge and needs to be replaced.
How to Tell If Your Battery Is Dead
Before you try jump starting a car, you need to determine that the battery is the reason the car isn’t starting up. If you turn the ignition and hear the engine cranking, a dead battery isn’t your problem and jump starting it won’t do a darn thing. However, if you turn the key and the car does absolutely nothing, then there’s a good chance you have a dead battery on your hands and jumping it may be your ticket to getting back on the road.
Your 60-Second Illustrated Crib Sheet to Jump Starting a Car
To Jump Start a Car With Cables, Follow These Steps:
1. Make sure both cars are turned off.
2. Connect one end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the positive terminal on the stalled battery.
3. Connect the other red (positive) cable to the positive terminal of the good battery.
4. Connect one end of the black (negative) jumper cable to the negative terminal of the good battery.
5. Connect the other black (negative) cable to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the disabled car’s hood.
6. Start the car that’s doing the jumping; run for 2 to 3 minutes before starting dead car.
7. Remove cables in reverse order.
8. Keep jumped car running for at least 30 minutes to give battery sufficient time to recharge.
And you’re done. Give yourself a pat on the back for a manly job well done.
The hardest part of the job is simply remembering where to put each cable. Many a man has broken out in a sweat wondering if he is about to make a wrong move and toast himself to a crisp. Here’s the good news: It’s probably impossible to electrocute yourself from jump starting a car. The battery might give you a big shock, but the voltage is too low to penetrate your skin and put you down for the count.
But no one wants to be on the receiving end of a zap, no matter how mild. So come up with some sort of device to help you remember which color goes where. I personally think: red = blood = life = positive; black = death = negative.
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 to 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. If it doesn’t start the first time, depress the clutch and release 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.