Jump Starting Your Vehicle

In a previous article, we covered what to do when your car will not start, and you have a dead battery.  In this article, we will take a closer look at actually “jumping” a car to get it started. There is likely more to it than you may think.

Dead Battery? Really?

Photo by Joe Gomez on Unsplash

It may seem obvious, but the first thing you need to do is make sure the battery is actually dead (or close to it). Make sure there are no other problems, like a broken fuel pump.  After you are certain it is the battery that needs jumping, it is time to determine your best route to getting the car started. We will cover a few possible ways to jump-start your vehicle.

Manually Popping the Clutch

If you have a manual (stick shift) car and you are at the top of a hill, you may be in luck. You may be able to “pop the clutch” by putting the car in neutral and letting it start to roll down the hill (after carefully checking for other traffic, of course). Once the car is rolling, make sure the key is turned all the way and then quickly pull your left foot off of the clutch. Be ready to apply the brake as needed.

Popping the clutch works well, especially on older cars. Just be sure you are ready to apply the brake when it starts up. Of course, though, you can usually jump the car by attaching it to the battery in another car.

Jump-start

This method usually employs the use of jumper cables.  A good pair of jumper cables is always handy to have in your vehicle. If not for you, perhaps to help someone else. To use the cables, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Here are few extra tips.

Park the working car close to the dead car, but don’t allow them to touch physically. Next, shut off both cars and make sure you turn off all accessories like radios, the heater, DVD players, etc. With your jumper cables ready to go, attach the red (positive) clamp to the positive (there should be a “+” sign) terminal of the dead battery. Attach the other end of the red positive clamp to the positive side of the good battery in the other car. Connect the negative (black) clamp to the negative (“-“) terminal on the GOOD battery. Connect the other negative clamp to the negative (black) clamp to any bare metal (not painted) part of the dead car. Start the working car and let the engine run for a few minutes. This will help to charge up the dead battery. Once you think the dead battery has charged enough, turn the key to try to start it. Once it starts, remove the jumper cables in the reverse order that you put them on.

A few words of caution. Make sure the cables do not dangle inside of the engine compartment, where they could get caught on moving parts. Also, be careful not to touch any of the jumper cable clamps to each other. Finally, do NOT stand near the batteries when you try to jump-start the car. Batteries, in certain circumstances, can explode. When they do, you could get hurt, and the explosion is very loud.  I know from experience.

Final Words

Next time we will discuss the newest entry in the car-jumping toolkit: handheld jump-starters.

Written by Gary Pradel