Learning how to jump-start a dead car battery is a necessary skill for people of all ages to have. At some point, everyone will own or at least operate a vehicle. In addition to being around cars, everyone makes the small mistakes that result in having a dead battery. Some of those minute mistakes are leaving your headlights on, or leaving a door not fully closed. Let’s face it, dead car batteries happen to everyone. Therefore, it is crucial to have the knowledge and capability to jump-start a dead battery.
Step 1: Step 1: Collect Necessary Items
The very first step to jump-starting your battery is to collect all of the necessary items. These items include the jumper cables, a working vehicle to provide power for your dead battery, and the knowledge to safely go about jumping your dead battery. Once you have the cables and vehicle, make sure the working car is parked next to the car with the dead battery. How close depends on the length of the cables. You need all three to successfully jump your dead battery, so plan accordingly. The images below show the car that will provide power for the dead car, and the jumper cables. In most cases the red jumper cables are positive and the black cables are negative. You should always double check and look at the actual cables before making any assumptions.
Step 2: Step 2: Properly Attach Cables
The next step of this process is to properly attach the jumper cables. If the cables are not attached in this exact manner serious injuries could occur. Before attaching any cables make sure both vehicles are turned off and parked relatively close to each other. Then take one positive cable and attach to a positive end of the dead battery. Second, attach the other positive cable to the working battery. Third, connect a negative cable to the negative side of the working battery. Finally, connect the remaining negative cable to a solid metal part of the engine of the dead car. The reason for grounding the second negative cable to a metal portion of the engine rather than the battery is to minimize the chance of potential explosions. A phrase my father taught me when I first began driving was, “Positive to positive, negative to ground.”
1.) Connect positive cable to positive terminal of dead battery
2.) Connect positive cable to positive terminal to working battery
3.) Connect negative cable to negative terminal to working battery
4.) Connect negative cable to a grounded part of metal on the dead engine
Step 3: Step 3: Start the Working Car and Charge Dead Battery
After properly connecting and assembling the cables to each respective vehicle it is time to actually charge the dead and drained battery. This is accomplished by starting the working vehicle. Most people commit the common mistake of starting the working car and then immediately starting the dead car. This will not work out in your favor. The key is to start the working car, and let it run for about 10 to 15 minutes. This gives the dead battery enough time to receive power from the working car.
Step 4: Step 4: Start the Dead Car and Detach Cables
After the working car has been started and you have waited approximately 10 to 15 minutes, you can start the dead car. If the dead car does not start right away, have a friend sit in the driver’s seat of the working car and apply a little gas while you try starting the dead car again. This slight “rev of the engine” gives the dead battery a jolt of power and helps complete the jump. Once the dead car has been successfully jumped and the car is running, it is time to disconnect the cables. The disconnection of cables is just as imperative to safely jumping the battery as the initial connection of the cables. The trick to properly disconnecting the cables is to unhook them in the reverse order as you connected them. First, you must disconnect the negative cable that is grounded to a metal portion of the engine from the car you were jumping. Second, disconnect the negative cable from the originally working vehicle. Third, disconnect the positive cable from the dead battery. Finally, disconnect the positive cable from the originally working vehicle.
Step 5: Step 5: Drive Jump Started Car
After you have successfully jumped the dead battery and disconnected the cables, you can proceed to step five. This next step entails actually driving the newly jumped vehicle. Once you get the car started, do not turn it off. Immediately take the car for a quick drive, roughly 10 to 15 minutes. The longer the car is moving the better. This allows the newly jumped battery to recharge. The most efficient way to recharge the battery is to drive the vehicle with no external power sources on. This means driving with the air conditioning and radio turned off, making sure the windshield wipers are off, and most importantly the lights. If you do not drive the car long enough to let the battery recharge you might have to go back to step 2 and jump the battery again.
Being able to successfully jump-start a dead battery is a skill that will benefit anyone. When you have finished but the jumper cables in an easy to get position in case you need them again. This simple, yet detailed five-step tutorial gives you the ability to jump any dead vehicle battery in less than 30 minutes.