How To Jump Start Your Car

Can you think of many things that are more annoying than getting into your car and finding it won’t start?

Of course, this always seems to only happen when you are in a really big hurry… it’s known as Murphy’s Law, if anything can go wrong, it will.

There could be any number of reasons why your car won’t start, but it doesn’t really matter what the reason is when you need to get somewhere, all you know is that your car isn’t working, and you need to use it now. This is when it can come in pretty handy to know how to jump start a car. This is a skill that everyone should learn, and because it is such an easy thing to do, it is something that should be taught to all drivers, of all ages, males and females alike. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what sex you are, you can still take steps to make sure that you are never stranded anywhere in your car, and that you always arrive at your destination safe and sound.

Jump-Starting Your Car: What You Will Need

Everyone should have a roadside emergency kit in their car, and this kit should contain certain tools that you will need for the little emergencies that pop up, including being stalled at the side of the road or in a parking lot somewhere. Make sure that your roadside emergency kit includes a set of jumper cables. Without them, you are not going to be able to get your car started, unless of course you can find someone else who has a set. You should also have an extra coat or sweater, just in case it is cold out. You could be outside fiddling with the car for some time before you get it to start, and there is no sense in freezing while you are doing it. You should also have a flashlight with you. Breakdowns don’t just occur during daylight hours, and if your car is stalled at night, the flashlight is going to come in pretty handy, and you will actually be able to see what you are doing.

Jump-Starting Your Car: The Process

If you need to have a jump start for your car, you are going to have to find another person to help you. This is because you need the electricity of another vehicle to get your own going. Having a cell phone with you at all times is a good idea, because if you need to, you can call someone to come and help. If you do not have a cell phone, you may have to rely on flagging down someone in traffic. This can be tricky, and if it is night time, and you are a woman, it may not be the best of ideas. Instead, have a sign in your window that says you are broken down and need help. Someone will more than likely call the police or someone else for you. Once you have another vehicle to help get your car started, here is what you are going to need to do:

  • Have the other driver park so that your vehicles are nose-to-nose, and so that the batteries are as close to each other as possible. (This is important, depending on the length of your jumper cables).
  • Turn everything off. Both vehicles should not have anything running, no lights, radios, air conditioning, heaters, etc. The reason for this is that jump starting vehicles can send a pretty big jolt through the vehicle, and these devices can actually be destroyed by the surge of electricity.
  • Make sure you know the battery terminals, and which is positive and which is negative. If you put the cables on the wrong terminals, you could end up with some pretty big problems, including a fire in your car. If you can’t find the terminal markings, you will probably have to clean away some of the corroded battery acid to find them. If you find that the battery is actually cracked and that there is battery acid leaking, call a tow truck, and DO NOT attempt to jump start the vehicle yourself. If you do try to jump start it, the battery could actually explode right in your face. Besides, a cracked battery that has been jump started will just die again in a few minutes anyway.
  • Once you see that there are no problems, connect the jumper cables. Start by connecting the positive end to the dead battery, then the other positive end to the good battery. Now connect the negative ends, making sure that you connect the other negative end to a shiny, non-painted part of the vehicle’s engine. Start out by connecting the good battery first, then the dead battery. Only use the ground post of the dead battery if absolutely necessary.
  • Let the good engine run for a few minutes with the cables on to charge the dead battery before trying to start it. Make sure that you do not have anything such as lights on that can drain batteries, because you are going to need as much of a charge as you can get.
  • Once the car is running again, remove the jumper cables in the reverse order as how you put them on. (Disconnect negative from formerly dead battery, disconnect negative from good battery, disconnect positive from the good battery, then remove the other from the once dead battery. Close the hood, and you are ready to get back on the road.)

Jump starting a car is something that is a lot easier than a lot of people think it is.

Don’t let the electricity scare you, because if you follow the proper steps, there is no reason why you should ever get hurt jump starting a vehicle. Always keep a set of jumper cables handy, just in case. You never know when you are going to need them, either for your own emergencies, and also to help others out of a jam when they need it.

About the Author:
Andrei Zakhareuski is the founder of Find-a-driving-school.ca. He has been writing for beginner Canadian drivers for several years.
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