You are in a hurry and your car won’t start. Maybe you left the headlights on overnight, or maybe your battery is simply on its last legs. Whatever the reason, you need to solve this problem and get on your way fast. Follow the ten steps below to jump start your car and get back on the road.
1. Make things safe
Safety is the most important factor when jump starting a car. Do not do anything to put yourself or others in harm’s way. Wear safety goggles and gloves if you have them, and be sure to tuck away loose hair and clothing. Then inspect the car. If you find any leaks, damages, or cracks, do not try to jump start the car. Instead, contact a tow truck, and have the vehicle taken to an expert.
2. Check the battery
Batteries are the most common reason for a car refusing to start, so it makes sense that you would assume that the battery is the source of the problem. Even so, make sure the battery is the problem by checking your headlights. If they won’t turn on, it’s probably your battery. Next, check your engine by turning on the car. If it cranks slowly or not at all, you most likely have a dead battery. If your dashboard battery light comes on, that is another indication of a dead battery.
3. Open the car’s hood
Once you have determined the battery is the problem, locate the battery. If you’re unsure, check your vehicle’s manual to correctly identify the location of the battery. In most cars, the battery will be near the front of the hood to the right or left side. Some cars, though, may carry the battery in the trunk or near the firewall between the engine and passenger compartment. Once you locate the battery, identify the positive and negative terminals, as this will be important later.
4. Find a working car
Park the working car as close to your vehicle as possible. However, do not let the cars touch. In both cars, turn off the engine, radio, air conditioner, lights, and any other electrical components.
5. Find jumper cables
Prepare your jumper cables by untangling and unwinding them. They will be identified with either black or red. Do not let the black or red ends touch each other once they are connected to the batteries. If not handled carefully, jumper cables can cause serious damage to you or the parked cars.
6. Connect the jumper cables
It is important to connect the jumper cables in the correct order.
- First, connect one red clamp to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
- Second, connect the other red clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery.
- Third, connect one black clamp to the negative terminal of the good battery.
- Fourth, connect the other black clamp to a piece of grounded metal on the dead car. Try to find a piece of metal that is attached to the engine and is not painted or oily.
7. Start the working car
When you start the working car, let it idle for a few minutes. Rev the engine a little above idle for 30-60 seconds. This charges the battery in the dead car. Continue charging the dead battery for the full 60 seconds by keeping the engine at a high idle.
8. Start the disabled vehicle
Try to start the disabled vehicle by putting the key in the ignition. Allow a few minutes for charging before attempting to start the disabled vehicle. If the vehicle does not start, shut the engine off and rearrange the four clamps to verify a good electrical connection. Repeat steps six and seven. If the car still will not start, contact a towing company, as your battery may need to be replaced.
9. Remove the jumper cables
Once the vehicle has started, remove the jumper cables. Remove them in the reverse order of when they were attached.
- First, remove the black clamp from the grounded metal.
- Second, disconnect the black clamp from the negative terminal of the good battery.
- Third, remove the red clamp from the positive terminal of the good battery.
- Fourth, disconnect the red clamp from the positive terminal of the dead battery.
10. Keep the car running
By turning off the disabled vehicle too quickly, you could cancel the battery’s charge and have to start the entire process over again the next time you drive. Run the car for at least 10 minutes and let it idle for another 20 minutes before turning it off. If the same problem occurs again, your battery may need to be replaced.
Thornton Chevy of York, Pennsylvania
Thornton Chevy is Central PA’s premier Chevrolet dealer located between Harrisburg, PA and York, PA. Thornton Chevrolet is a valuable resource for all your car and auto maintenance needs. For more information, visit Thornton Chevrolet at tchevy.com.