Having your car die on you is a pretty lousy experience. Whether you are waiting for roadside assistance or a friend with jumper cables, it isn’t a great deal. Whether this is you, or you have never jumped a car before, this guide will help you out.
Below, we will get into the seven-step process you need to follow to jump your vehicle safely. We will even give you some options should you not have a friend available.
Step One: Get Your Jumper Cables
If you haven’t purchased a set yet, it is always good to have jumper cables available. Carrying a set of cables is required these days to help a friend, or help yourself. Failure to purchase one of these could leave you stranded longer than you need?
Are There Other Options Besides Jumper Cables?
If you don’t feel like waiting for a friend, you do have the option of purchasing a portable jump starter. The portable battery jumper has a battery that is connectable to yours. It works just like getting another car to drive up alongside yours but in a smaller package.
When making this purchase, be sure that it can handle your size of engine and battery. If it is not enough, it won’t be able to build up enough of a charge to start your car. Check with your local auto parts dealer to be sure of your needs.
Step Two: Check Your Owner’s Manual
The owner’s manual will often dictate if you need to take specific steps before jumping. Some of them will require you to take out sure fuses. Others may limit you from jumping the vehicle at all.
What If An Owner’s Manual Tells Me Not To Jump The Car?
If an owner’s manual tells you not to jump your car, it means that you will need to charge it slowly. It is typical for vehicles that have complex circuitry, such as electric vehicles. In those vehicles, the alternator doesn’t function as it would in a standard gasoline-powered car.
If you are an owner of one of these electric vehicles, you may be able to get a tow to a charging station. Otherwise, you may consider investing in a portable charging station to put into one of these vehicles. They may work to add a few extra miles on top of your vehicle’s current limits.
Step Three: Connect The Cables
At this point, you have read through the owner’s manual and gathered the supplies. Nothing is preventing you from jumping the car at this point. Skipping to this step is not advised unless you are already aware of your car’s limitations.
Before beginning, ensure that the living car is completely off. Connect the red section on each end of your cables to the red half of the battery. It is your positive side, and it is color-coded to make your job easier. If it is not, look for some sign that the battery is the positive side, such as the plus signal.
At this point, you can connect the black cable to the battery of your friend’s car. You may have the urge to join the other black wire to your battery terminal, don’t. Instead, you will want to connect it to an unpainted metal surface. You can use one of the metal struts that you use to keep the car hood open. Check out the video below for a visual representation of the entire jumping process.
What if Their Battery is Different From Mine?
You will want to be sure that your friend’s battery has the same voltage as your car. If it isn’t, you may overload and destroy one or both of the cells in the process.
You also want to be sure that their battery isn’t already low. You don’t want to create a situation where both of you guys get stuck in a parking lot.
Step Four: Start The Donor Car and Keep It Idle
Once all of your cables are connected, you may start the donor and let it rest a bit. You usually will want to run the car for two to three minutes before starting your vehicle. Don’t get impatient at this step, as you don’t want to start from the beginning.
Step Five: Start Your Car
At this point, your car has had an ample amount of time to charge up the necessary energy to start. Get in your car and turn the key over to see if it responds. If the car starts with no issue, keep it on until we reach our last step.
What if My Car Doesn’t Start?
At this point, your car may not start for a couple of different reasons.
First, your cables may not be secure. Check the sturdiness of your cables; if they are worn, they may not be able to hold a charge anymore. Be sure that they are firmly on your positive terminals, negative terminals, and on that non-painted section of metal on your car. Try it again three minutes after checking your cables.
Second, your car’s battery may be too dead to hold any charge. At this point, you can try slowly charging your battery using an at-home charging system. You can also try and purchase a new battery, which is likely at this point. If you need help picking out a battery, check out the video below.
Step Six: Victory Lap
At this point, you may want to turn off your car and move onto something else in your busy day. But don’t do that quite yet. You should keep your car on for at least thirty minutes after the jump. Drive your car around a bit while the alternator charges your battery.
Are There Any Other Ways To Jump Your Car?
Let’s assume that you do not have any of the portable jumping equipment, your friends don’t have any cars, and you don’t have any jumper cables. There is a last-ditch effort that you can use in a pinch that may work, and that involves finding your friends and having them push.
The idea behind this goes back to that alternator we mentioned. Alternators charge your battery through the rolling of your wheels. That means if you put your car in neutral and roll it in a safe location with no traffic, it could feasibly give you just enough juice to start your vehicle. Be sure to be incredibly careful using this option and only use it if you have exhausted everything else.
If you have never done it, jumping your car can be an intimidating process. Thankfully, using the steps listed in this guide will give you a good starting point on how to jumpstart your vehicle. The process stays the same whether you use a portable jumper or jumper cables.
If you use an electric vehicle, things can get a bit tricky. Be sure to check your owner’s manual before jumping your car. Also, be sure to check the voltage of any vehicles willing to help you out. With this in mind, always remember safety when jumping your car.