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Every person should know how to jump-start a dead car battery — it’s just a useful life skill to have. Knowing how to jump a car will save you time and money so you don’t have to call a tow truck. While most people will wave down a passerby or call a friend to help with the jump, drivers can save even more time and do it themselves if they have a portable jump starter in their trunk at all times.

But if that’s not an option, here is a step-by-step illustrated and easy-to-follow guide on safely jump starting your car the traditional way. Bookmark this page on your phone so you have it handy in case of an emergency.

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How to Tell If the Car Battery is Dead

Before you equip yourself with jump-starting skills, it’s critical to establish that the battery is the actual reason the automobile won’t start. If you turn on the ignition and the engine makes a cranking noise, a dead battery is not the problem and jump-starting it will be a futile exercise. Conversely, if the car is totally dead upon turning the key and there’s no noise, then it’s highly likely that you have a dead battery in your vehicle and jump-starting it is perhaps the only option.

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How to Jump a Car Battery

  1. First, park the functioning vehicle in a way that both the cars are facing each other, preferably only 1.5 feet apart, but never touching one another. More importantly, park the automatic transmission cars, while putting the manual transmission ones in neutral.  
  2. Make sure to put parking brakes on both the cars, so neither of them moves unexpectedly.
  3. Both vehicles must be turned off, with keys out of the ignition.
  4. Place the jumper cables on the road/ground, while ensuring that the clamps do not touch/collide with each other.
  5. Open the hood/bonnet of both the cars, and find the batteries (consult the owner’s manual for exact location), and battery terminals. Typically, the two terminals on respective batteries shall be color coded red or black, signifying negative “-” and positive “+” charge. 
  6. It’s crucial to correctly identify both the charges to successfully jump-start the car. Also, if the battery terminals are grimy, wipe them off with a wire brush or rag.
  7. Attach the red (positive) cable clamp to the (+) terminal of the dead battery. You must firmly connect the clamp to the battery terminal, which may well necessitate some wiggling of the clamps. 
  8. Now affix the red (positive) cable clamp on the other end of the jumper cables to the operative vehicle’s (+) battery terminal.
  9. After that connect the black (negative) cable clamp to the functional battery’s (-) battery terminal.
  10. Now go over to the automobile with the lifeless Remember, do not attach the black (negative) clamp to the dead battery, instead affix that cable clamp to a metal, unpainted part of the vehicle such as a bright, clean screw on the car engine block. It will help ensure a safe car jump. 
  11. Start the working car.
  12. Wait for a minute or two. Depending on your battery’s age, and how long since it stopped working, you are required to let the car run for a few minutes to allow the jump to work.
  13. Now try starting the inoperative car. If the vehicle does not start, allow the functional automobile to charge the battery for a few more minutes before attempting again. On a few occasions, moderately revving the engine of the operative car while charging the lifeless battery may help.
  14. Once the defunct car is running, you can start disconnecting the jumper cables, beginning with the black (negative) cable clamps. However, don’t let the clamps touch one another while any part of the jumper cables is still connected to a car.
  15. Now, go for a drive. It will enable the battery to build up a charge. Also, the drive will allow the car’s alternator to charge off the battery and assure that your battery won’t die again once you switch off the engine.

If Jump Starting Fails

If your jump starting attempt fails to start your vehicle after a few tries, or if the car starts but dies quickly, you might have some other issues that need attention. The majority of batteries are made to last 4 to 6 years. Therefore, if your battery is about half a decade old, replace it. Nonetheless, if the battery is functioning smoothly, you should consider other potential auto problems including:

  • Fuses
  • Defective alternator
  • Battery corrosion
  • Starter connection
  • Ignition switch

The majority of service centers offer free diagnostic scans and battery inspections to assist you in understanding your car’s issues. Make sure your battery is running optimally — any service center can tell you if you need a new one or if the one you have is fine.

Dealing with a numb car battery is a pain we all want to avoid. Fortunately, getting your beloved machine on wheels back in the working order is not difficult.

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