How to Jump-Start Your Car Safely
According to a recent poll, almost 90 percent of drivers don’t know how to jump-start a car. That’s a huge number, and while many people still know how to jump-start a car and can help out their neighbors and family, it’s really important that the majority of drivers know what to do when their car dies.
So if you’re one of the 90 percent of people who don’t know how to jump-start a car, here is what you need to know when your car “dies.”
1. Make sure it’s actually the battery.
The first thing you should check is your gas tank – is it empty? Try turning over the key in the ignition. If you hear a low whining sound and your car tries to turn on but stops, it’s likely your battery. You can also turn your key to the dashboard function (not all the way to ignite the engine). If none of your dashboard lights come on, or are dimmed, it’s likely your battery.
If it is your battery, you’ll need a jumpstart so you can drive your car to your local auto supply store to get a new one (or to get yours recharged).
2. Call or ask someone to help you jump-start your car.
If you don’t have jumper cables in your car right now, go buy some. If you’re stuck with a dead battery and don’t have jumper cables, make sure you call someone who has them.
3. Place the other vehicle “nose to nose” with yours, if possible. Then pop both hoods and make sure both vehicles are close enough for the jumper cables to reach both batteries. Move closer if you need.
4. Put both cars in park (with parking brakes on). Remove keys from ignition.
5. Attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery. You’ll know which one is positive based on the label: POS or +. Positive terminals are also usually bigger than the negative terminal.
6. Attach the other red clip to the other vehicle’s positive terminal.
7. Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal on the other car. Do not put the negative clip on your dead battery.
8. Attach the other black clip to an unpainted metal surface in your engine that is not your vehicle’s battery. This could be a nut that holds your engine or hood.
9. Double check everything to make sure jumper cables are properly attached.
10. Start the other (working) vehicle and let it run for a few minutes.
11. Try to start the dead vehicle. Let the other vehicle run longer if your battery still won’t start. Sometimes revving the engine will help charge the battery.
12. Once the dead vehicle turns on, remove the black clamps first. Do not let any part of the jumper cables touch when any one of them is still touching the engines.
13. Take a short drive. Don’t get on an interstate or any road where you’d be at risk if the battery dies again.
If your battery won’t charge at all, it’s time to call a tow truck. If your battery does charge, you should still visit your mechanic or auto supply shop to get the battery fully charged and inspected.