You walk out to your car, climb in, put the key in the ignition and it won’t start. Before you call the tow truck, you can try jumpstarting your own dead car battery.
First, you need to be sure that the battery is the problem. Put your key in the ignition and open the driver’s door. Does it make the typical dinging sound? Try turning on the headlights. Check to see if they are on, dimmed, or completely off. Turn your key partway in the ignition and see if the dashboard lights up. If there is no chime, your headlights won’t turn on, and the dashboard doesn’t flicker, it may be time to try to jumpstart your battery. A car the battery has a little different from the batteries at home.
Locate a vehicle owner willing to help you jumpstart your battery and a set of jumper cables. Pull the vehicles next to each other or nose to nose but leave enough room so that you can get in and out of both driver’s side doors. Also, make sure the cars are not touching. Be careful who you ask, especially at night.
Pop open the hood of each vehicle and locate the battery. If you are unsure of the location of the battery, check the owner’s manual. Check the battery to ensure there are no cracks or leaks. If there are, do not proceed. Instead, call a tow truck and get your vehicle to a repair shop.
Familiarize yourself with the battery. There is a positive terminal and a negative terminal. The positive terminal will usually have a red cable attached to it and be marked with a plus sign. The negative terminal will usually have a black cable attached to it and be marked with a minus sign.
Turn off as many electronic functions inside both vehicles as possible. These include but are not limited to the radio, HVAC controls, turn signals, headlights, and overhead lights. Be sure you don’t have any electronic devices plugged in to charge.
Untangle your jumper cables and attach one end’s red cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery. Then, connect the other red clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery.
After the red clamps are attached, connect a black clamp to the negative terminal of the good battery. Complete the connection by next attaching the last black clamp to a grounded piece of metal, without grease or oil on it, on the vehicle with the dead battery. The chassis is a good place to do this.
Start the working vehicle. Let the engine run for 45-60 seconds, revving it just above idle.
Attempt to start the vehicle with the presumed dead battery. If the car does not fully start, you will want to wait 90-120 seconds before attempting another start. If it doesn’t start after the second attempt, it is most likely time to call a tow truck.
Once the car starts, remove the jumper cables in the opposite order that you put them on. This means detaching the black clamp attached to a grounding metal first, then the other black clamp, then the red clamp attached to the good battery, then the red clamp attached to the dead battery.
Replace any battery covers and store jumper cables. Be sure to thank whoever helped you get your vehicle started.
Do not shut off the car with the dead battery for 25-30 minutes following a jumpstart. It will take at least this long for a vehicle running above idle to gain enough battery power back to start again following a shutoff.
Please share your feedback if this article helps you and also comment if you have any new ideas to jumpstart a car.