How to Jumpstart Your Vehicle

Posted Friday, Mar 25, 2022

You get into your vehicle to head to work, turn the key, and…nothing happens. You turn it again and again but the damn car won’t start.

You were barely going to make it to work on time but now it’s guaranteed you’re going to be late.

Almost everyone has been here at least once in their lives. As frustrating as it can be, most of the time it turns out to be a pretty easy fix.

The most common culprit in this situation is your battery having died during the night. Many times this is caused by a door being left cracked, lights being left on, or some form of electrical component not shutting off properly. Other times it can also just be that your battery’s useful life is coming to an end.

We all know that our hot summers can have a negative effect on batteries, speeding up corrosion and decreasing the charge of the car battery. Lucky for you, this doesn’t mean you have to be left stranded.

You can be on the road in about five minutes or less with a simple jumpstart!

What do you Need to Jumpstart a Vehicle?

Before you can jumpstart your car or truck, you need two things: a pair of jumper cables, and a “donor” battery. This is simply another vehicle with a functioning battery.

Jumper cables can be purchased at any auto parts store and even some large retailers. These long, thickly insulated cables have two alligator clips on each end, one red and one black, that attach to the batteries. The color of the clip indicates its polarity; red is positive, and black is negative.

When purchasing jumper cables, don’t purchase the cheapest set. These may not be able to push enough current to properly jump your vehicle. Instead, look for ones with the thickest cables that are at least 20 feet in length. This means that, even in situations where lining up the vehicles right next to each other isn’t possible, you can still reach both batteries with the cables.

Before jumping your vehicle, ensure that both operate on the same voltage system; never try to jump a 6V battery with a 12V battery, and vice versa. This could cause serious damage to them and possibly the computer of your vehicle.

How to Jumpstart a Vehicle Safely

While it may seem a little intimidating, jumping a battery is easy and safe, so long as you are careful and know what you are doing.

Before learning how to do it properly, let’s go over what not to do.

A few things you should never do: touch the metal clips together when any are connected to the battery. Never attempt to jump a battery with any defects or damage, including cracks, leakage, corrosion, or a battery that is frozen. Lastly, never cross the terminals! Always make sure that the red cables are lined up with both positive terminals (+) and the black cables with negative terminals (-).

To jumpstart the vehicle, first, start by parking the vehicles as close together as possible. This could be either nose-to-nose or side-by-side.

Open the hoods of both vehicles and remove any plastic shrouds that may cover the batteries. This will make it easier for you to identify the positive and negative battery terminals.

Remember, the positive terminal will have a “+” symbol, and most likely be red; the negative will have a “–” symbol and most likely be black.

Brush away any dust or dirt from the terminals and connect the red clip to the dead battery’s positive terminal. Do the same on the donor battery.

Next, connect the black clip to the donor battery’s negative terminal, and, for increased safety, attach the black clip to an unpainted engine bolt or a part of the vehicle’s frame. You can also place the black clip onto the negative terminal.

Turn on the donor vehicle and let it run for a minute. This should take care of it! From here, you should be able to crank your vehicle right up!

On certain occasions, your car may not crank up immediately and may require you to keep the other vehicle running for a while longer. You can also gently press the gas to peddle to provide more of a current. Once on, carefully disconnect the cables and drive on to your destination.

While this will help fix a dead battery at least temporarily, it won’t help if your vehicle is having other issues. If the interior lights come on and you hear the engine turn over but it won’t start, or if you hear a clicking sound when you try to start the vehicle, take advantage of our low-cost inspections and bring your vehicle into us for a diagnosis!

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