There is a certain overwhelming feeling of dread when you get into your car, put in your keys and start the ignition only to hear it rev and die. You try again, pushing it a little harder, giving it some reassurance, “Come on, little car, come on! Don’t do this to me now!”
Chances are, your battery is dead. Did you leave a light on? Was a door ajar overnight? Did that cold weather affect your battery? Whatever it was, you need to focus on how to jump start your car so you can get going.
Don’t get caught in a situation where you don’t know how to jump start a car. We’ll provide you the information you need to give your car a jolt and move on with your day.
1. Find Your Source of Electricity
First, you want to make sure you actually have jumper cables stashed in your car because for all you know, someone else might not. There are two cables: one red, one black. The red is for positive and the black for negative. Then find someone with a car that can help you with the jump. If there is nobody around, keeping a portable car battery charger around is a lifesaver.
2. Setting Up for a Jump
Have the person pull up by your car so that you can easily connect the jumper cables to each one without having the cars touch. Turn off both engines, it’s incredibly important that both cars are off to avoid any electrical injuries. Pop open the hoods and locate the batteries. It is a rectangular box with a red cap over it. The red cap has a plus (+) sign on it.
Inspect the batteries first for any leaks or cracks, if there are, call a tow truck instead as things could get dangerous.
3. Connect the Jumper Cables
With both hoods open, follow these directions to connect the jumper cables to each car battery:
- Using the red cable, open the red cap of your battery and clip one end to the positive terminal
- Then connect the other end of the red cable to the other (booster) battery’s positive terminal
- Grab the black cable and clip one end to the negative terminal (the other bolt across from
the +) of the booster battery
- Clip the other end of the black cable to a grounding strip (refer to car manual) or look for a clean, unpainted metal surface like a nut or bolt—DO NOT connect it to the negative terminal of your battery as this may ignite hydrogen gas from the battery. Only do this as a last resort.
4. Jump Start Car
Now you are ready for the driver with the good battery to start their car. After they turn on their ignition, let your battery charge for a couple of minutes, and then turn on your engine. Disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order that you connected them:
- Black Cable on Grounding Strip
- Black Cable on Good Battery
- Red Cable on Good Battery
- Red Cable on (Previously) Dead Battery
Make sure to thank the other person for taking the time to help you jump start your car and you’re ready to part ways. However, if this did not work, turn off both cars and try again in 5 minutes. In the meantime, adjust the clamps in case one was not clipped on properly. If it doesn’t work still, see below.
5. Let the Battery Keep Charging
Allow your car to idle for about 5 minutes and keep it running for at least 30 minutes to allow the battery to fully work through its kinks and fully recharge. It’s good to bring your car in for a checkup and see if it’s time to get a new battery. Car batteries may last anywhere between 3-5 years depending on the brand and conditions.
What If The Car Still Doesn’t Start?
If jump starting the car did not work it may be the result of one of the following problems:
- Really Low on Gas
- Spark Plugs
- Distributor Cap is Damp (Rainy Days)
- Fuel Filter/Fuel Pump
- Battery Corrosion
- Bad Ignition Switch
- Fuel Injector Electrical Connections
- Lack of Oil
- Plugged Exhaust System
It is possible too that your car won’t start due to any other issue as this is just some of the more common reasons for it. At this point, it’s best to call a tow truck and have an auto shop like AAMCO Colorado to diagnose the problem. Many of our shops offer free towing within a certain radius. Find a Colorado AAMCO location near you or call us at 1 (877) 79-AAMCO today.