Auto 101: How to jump start a car? – Things | CarTailz

It’s a fact that batteries are an essential component to vehicle motion, as they provide the initial energy that ultimately brings a motor to life, and conversely, dead batteries have been the bane of motorist existence for exactly the opposite reason.

That moment of nothingness after turning the ignition key terrifies all who have experienced it, and, to add insult to injury, the resulting mishap always seems to happen at the worst possible time (although we’re not sure when would be a good time). But fear not, because learning how to start a car yourself isn’t all that difficult.

How do I recognize a dead battery?

If you've ever had to jump start a car, this will be a familiar sight.

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If you’ve ever had to jump start a car, this will be a familiar sight.

Aside from faulty wiring and blown fuses, common signs of a dead battery can be visible in many modern cars even before you get behind the wheel. Things like the vehicle’s welcome lights are dim or not lit, the inability to unlock your vehicle’s door with your key fob, or a slow/no alarm beeping are causes for concern.

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Once inside, you might notice that the overhead lights are dim or off, the stereo refuses to turn on, and the instrument cluster or dash lights are as dead as the proverbial dodo. But even if these telltale signs don’t appear and things still seem “normal,” your battery may not have enough juice to get you going.

The last turn of the key or pressing the start button will be the cashier. Should the engine be slow or difficult to turn (watch out for that awful tick-tick-tick from the starter) or worse, make no effort at all to start, there’s a good chance your battery is dead.

What should i do next?

If you have a manual transmission, you can nudge the car with the clutch and a hill.

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If you have a manual transmission, you can nudge the car with the clutch and a hill.

When diagnosing the dead battery, the prime suspect, which vehicle you have and what “tools” you have access to, determines your next step. For example, if you have a manual transmission vehicle and you are parked on a hill, a manual jump start is an option. Switch on the ignition, step in the clutch and engage 2nd gear, allow the vehicle to pick up some speed down the hill and quickly release the clutch while tapping the accelerator. It’s sure to be a bumpy ride, but more often than not your vehicle comes to life.

However, if you don’t have a manual gearbox in the menu you’ll need an alternative way to get some power into that battery and if you don’t have a breakdown kit with a portable battery starter you’ll need a set of jumper cables and a passenger willing to to help.

I have cable and another car, what next?

To jump start a car, you need jumper cables and another friendly driver.

Ross Giblin

To jump start a car, you need jumper cables and another friendly driver.

Jumper cables are rarely very long and car manufacturers vary where they place their batteries, so it’s best to open both hoods (or the trunk, as can sometimes be the case) and find where they are before you start. From there, line up the batteries of both vehicles and park close enough for the cables to pass through. Then, to be safe, apply the parking brakes on both vehicles and turn off the working engine.

If necessary, remove the plastic caps from both batteries to expose the positive battery posts, ensure it is free of corrosion (looks like fluffy foam) or cracked.

Take the jumper cables and connect the red clip to the positive of the dead battery and then connect the other red clip to the positive of the good battery. Then connect the black clip to the negative terminal of the good battery and connect the last black clip to a ground point (unpainted metal on the engine block or chassis) well away from the dead battery and fuel system.

Grounding the negative will prevent sparks from being generated near the battery where flammable hydrogen gas may be present, which could cause an explosion.

Connect the red one to the dead battery first, then to the healthy one.  Attach the black to the live battery and then to the other car's chassis.

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Connect the red one to the dead battery first, then to the healthy one. Attach the black to the live battery and then to the other car’s chassis.

Once connected, leave both engines off and wait a few minutes to allow power to flow between the two vehicles before starting the working car’s engine and letting it run briefly. Now start the engine in your car in the moment you have been waiting for.

Success? Allow both cars to idle (at high speed/increased rpm) for about 10 minutes before turning them off and removing the jumper wires in the reverse way they were connected, making sure the wires are not touching (or both cars). ) when they are removed.

Finally, restart your car, thank your passenger and be on your way.

What if my car won’t start?

If the above process doesn’t get you anywhere, you may have bigger problems that need more professional help. Your battery could be too discharged to be skipped, meaning you need a new one, the battery terminals could be corroded or broken, your alternator could be clogged, or your starter could be problematic.

If jumping doesn't work, you may need to replace the battery entirely.

Carys Monteath

If jumping doesn’t work, you may need to replace the battery entirely.

Sometimes it can even be small things like a blown fuse or a faulty neutral or clutch safety switch that will prevent the car from starting unless it is in neutral or park or the clutch is engaged.

It is also worth making sure that the jumper cables are not too old or of poor quality and are of the right type. Some may have too high an internal resistance or may not be able to carry enough current to jump start.

What if my car won’t restart after the cables are removed?

When you consider that your car was started with the help of another vehicle, the battery is almost certainly the problem. You can repeat the jump start process, only this time run both vehicles longer, but it’s likely that your battery will need replacing.

Why did my battery run out in the first place?

There are numerous reasons why car batteries fail, from something as simple as leaving the interior lights on overnight to aging or an internal failure. Simple troubleshooting, such as checking that the lights were left on or the door left open, can find the cause, but either way it’s worth having it checked out by a professional and replacing it if it’s inexplicable occurs again.

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