The Right Way to Jumpstart a Car Battery

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If you drive a car, at some point or another you’re going to have to jumpstart a car battery. Maybe it will be your car that won’t start, or you’re being nice and helping a stranded motorist. Either way, you’ll need to know how to go about the process of jumpstarting a car battery the right way without getting shocked or damaging a vehicle. The first thing to know is that you can’t start a car with jumper cables unless there’s there’s a little juice left in the battery. A completely dead battery has to either be replaced or charged with a home battery charger. If there’s a little power in the battery but just not enough to turn over the engine, here’s what you can do.

1. No Touching Allowed

Bring the cars together close enough so the cables will reach, but not so close that the cars are touching. This is very important. Don’t let the cars touch. Also, if you’re standing in the middle of the cars, never touch both cars at once. Make sure there’s space between you and the cars.

2. Shut Everything Down

Both cars should be completely off. Turn off all accessories like lights, radios, wipers, etc. Those accessories are powered by the battery, and you want to save the battery power for the task at hand. Furthermore, both cars should be in the park or neutral position to prevent accidental movement.

3. Inspect the Batteries

Open the hoods on both cars. Inspect each battery with a flashlight if necessary. Locate the positive and negative terminals on each battery. They won’t necessarily be in similar spots depending on the battery, so do this step carefully. The positive terminal will be marked with a plus sign. The negative terminal will be marked with a minus sign.

4. Attach the Jumper Cables

These steps have to be done in the exact right order. First, attach one red (positive clip) on the jumper cables to the positive terminal on the weak battery. Second, attach the other positive clip of the jumper cables to the “good” battery in the other car. Third, attach the black (negative) clip to the other car. Fourth, attach the other black (negative) clip to the body or chassis of your car.

5. Start the Good Car

Now, start up the engine on the “good” car. Next, start up the engine on the car that wouldn’t start. Rev the engine on the good car until the other car finally starts. Once both cars are running, let the battery continue to receive the charge for a few minutes.

6. Reverse the Process

Now you can unclip the jumper cables. You need to do this in the exact reverse order of the way that you put them on. Again, be sure there’s no contact between the two cars.

Now that you know the right way to jumpstart a car battery, you’ll be able to do this for yourself or anyone who finds themselves with a car that won’t start!

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