Nothing can ruin your day like getting in your car and it won’t start. The culprit may very well be a dead battery. Using a kit available at auto parts stores, you can jump start a car’s battery and get back on the road – assuming there’s another car to provide juice for the jump.
First, here are a few precautions. Check the dead battery for low electrolyte level and top up with distilled water as necessary. If the loss is due to a cracked case, you’ll need a replacement battery. A bulging case or ice in the cells indicates a frozen battery. Remove the battery, if necessary, and thaw in a warm place. Do not try to jump start a frozen battery – it may rupture or explode.
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Step-by-step jump-starting process
Get out your car’s owner’s manual and refer to vehicle-specific instructions and procedures. In general, here are the steps to follow to jump start your car, as recommended by AAA:Position the two vehicles to allow jumper cables to reach each car’s batteries. But don’t have the vehicles touching. Next, do the following on each vehicle:
- Remove the key from the ignition. In the case of a keyless ignition system, make sure the “smart fob” is at least 10 feet away from the vehicle before connecting jumper cables.
- Set the parking brake.
- Turn off all factory-installed electrical systems such as radio, lights, heater, and air conditioning.
- Disconnect any aftermarket electrical accessories such as radar detectors, cell phones, and stereo amplifiers
- Look for the positive and negative terminals on the discharged battery and the booster battery.
Refer to the diagram and connect cables to specified locations in the following order:
- Install one end of the positive jumper cable (red clamp) to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
- Install the other end of the positive jumper cable (red clamp) to the positive terminal of the booster battery (in the other car).
- Install one end of the negative jumper cable (black clamp) to the negative terminal of the booster battery.
- Connect the other end of the negative jumper cable (black clamp) to the ground point on the ground point of the car with the dead battery, such as the engine block or an accessory bracket. Make sure this is as far from the battery as possible. Caution: To prevent spark damage, never connect the negative jumper cable to the discharged battery.
Attempt to start your car. If the engine seems to be turning too slowly, stop cranking. Start the other car to avoid draining both batteries. Try to start your car again. After your car starts, allow it to run at high idle for 30 seconds or more. Then, turn on the headlights and heater blower motor to provide an electrical path for any voltage spikes that may occur when disconnecting jumper cables. Remove jumper cables in reverse order of installation. Turn off the headlights and heater blower motor.