Most car owners face a dead battery sooner or later (either from leaving the lights on or the battery being old). If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, this article can help you.
Method 1 of 3: Check the battery
Step 1. Make sure the problem is the battery
- Check the headlights. Do they look dim or bright? Note that in some cars you must start the engine to test the headlights. If they look dim, the battery is likely the cause. If the headlights are bright, then the battery is not dead and the jump start will not help.
- Make sure the doors are unlocked (by pressing the key button or trying to open the door from the outside), the interior lights are working, and the clock or GPS (if equipped) is working or turning on.
- Put the key in the ignition and see if the instrument panel lights up as usual. Try the stereo. In most cases, even with a low battery, you should see some lights come on on the instrument panel and hear music coming out of the stereo. If the instrument panel is not flashing, you probably have a problem with the starter switch.
- Try to start the car. Check to see if it starts too slowly or too fast. If you do it quickly, then the battery is not discharged and a jump start will not do. If it runs slowly, or doesn't turn on at all, the battery is probably dead.
Method 2 of 3: Bridge the Battery
Step 1. Open the hood of each car and locate the battery
In most cars, it is located near the front on the right or left side, but in some, it is located near the firewall between the engine and the passenger compartment. In others, the battery is located in the trunk. If you're not sure, you can check your car manual for the exact location of the battery. Next, identify the positive and negative terminals.
- The positive terminal will be marked with a plus sign (+) and usually has a red wire attached.
- The negative terminal will be marked with a minus sign (-) and usually has a black wire attached.
Step 2. Park the running car close to (but not touching) the unloaded car
You must park the car in such a way that the distance between both batteries is as short as possible. Turn off the engine, radio, lights, air conditioner, fans, and all other electrical components. Make sure all of these items are turned off in the unloaded car as well. Don't let the cars touch at all.
Otherwise, this procedure can cause a dangerous electric arc between both vehicles
Step 3. Put on your safety equipment (goggles and gloves) if you have it
Examine the batteries for cracks, leaks, or other damage. If you detect any of these things, don't start the car. Instead, call a tow truck or replace the battery.
- It may be necessary to remove the dead car battery cables from the terminals and clean both the cables and terminals. Use a stiff wire brush to remove all corrosion. Reconnect the cables to the battery terminals and start the car with the clamps.
- Remove any red protective covers from the positive (+) pins if applicable.
Step 4. Unravel and unwind the auxiliary cables
Like the battery, the auxiliary cables will likely be red and black and will have sturdy clips to connect them to the battery terminals. You want to make sure that the red and black ends of the auxiliary cables never touch each other once they are connected to the batteries. Failure to do so could result in serious arches or damage to one or both vehicles.
Step 5. Connect the auxiliary cables in the order described below:
- Connect a red clamp to the positive (+) terminal of the discharged battery.
- Connect the other red clamp to the positive (+) terminal of the good battery.
- Connect a black clamp to the negative (-) terminal of the good battery.
- Attach the other black clamp to a grounded metal part on the dead car, preferably to the bolt where the thick negative battery cable connects to the chassis. If this is not practical, look for a shiny metal part (free of paint and oil) that is connected to the engine. Usually it can be a protruding nut, bolt, or other shiny metal. You will likely detect a small spark when grounding. As a last resort, you can connect it to the negative (-) pin on the discharged battery, but you run the risk of igniting the hydrogen gas that is released.
- Make sure none of the cables hang in the engine compartment, where they could be exposed to moving parts.
Step 6. Start the running car
Leave it idle for a few minutes. Avoid over-revving the engine, but do it slightly above idle for 30 to 60 seconds. You should do this to charge the battery in the discharged car, as the starter motor in the discharged car will draw most of the required current (much more than 100 amps) from said battery and not through the cables. Common retail booster cables are not designed to carry the required current. It is essential to charge the discharged battery. If 30 seconds is not enough, try charging for a full 60 seconds by keeping the engine idling high. A good and clean connection between the cables and the battery terminals is essential.
Step 7. Try to start the unloaded vehicle
If it doesn't, turn off the engine and disconnect the last connection temporarily while twisting or slightly wiggling each of the four clamps to help ensure a good electrical connection. Restart the running car. Wait another five minutes for it to charge before trying to start the unloaded vehicle. If this doesn't work after a few tries, you may need to tow the car or replace the battery.
Step 8. Remove the jumper cables once you start the car
You should do this in the reverse order in which they were connected, and do not allow any of the cables or clips to touch (or hang in the engine compartment).
- Disconnect the black clamp from the grounded metal on the unloaded car.
- Disconnect the black clamp from the negative (-) terminal of the good battery.
- Disconnect the red clamp from the positive (+) terminal of the good battery.
- Disconnect the red clamp from the positive (+) terminal of the discharged battery.
- Replace any red positive (+) protective cover for pins, if applicable. These covers help prevent accidental shorting of the battery.
Step 9. Keep the engine of the recently charged car running
Run the car above idle (with your foot slightly on the accelerator) for five minutes and then above idle for 20 minutes before turning it off. This way, the battery should have enough charge to start the car again. Otherwise, you probably have a dead battery or a dead alternator.
Method 3 of 3: Starting the Car Wirelessly (Manual Transmission Only)
Step 1. Position the car on the top of a hill or ask for help to push it
Step 2. Press the clutch in all the way
Step 3. Put the car in second gear
Step 4. Put the key in the ignition but do not start the engine
This is also known as the second key position. The key is inserted and turned one step to the right. If you take one more step, you will start the engine (which is what you want to avoid).
Step 5. Release the brakes
Hold down the clutch. You will start to slide downhill or move due to the push of your helpers.
Step 6. Release the clutch quickly when the speed reaches 8 km / h (5 mph)
The engine should crank and start. If not, try pressing and releasing the clutch again.
- Extinguish open flames and smoking materials when around batteries. Batteries emit hydrogen gas as a normal by-product of the chemical process to generate electricity. This gas is too explosive.
- Buy only high-quality, sturdy auxiliary cables. This detail is determined by the thickness gauge of the wire. The smaller the gauge number, the heavier the conductor (a # 10 conductor or wire is smaller or thinner than a # 8 one). You shouldn't judge the cable by the overall thickness of the wires alone, as many manufacturers disguise inexpensive cables simply by coating a thin conductor with a generous layer of inexpensive plastic insulation. Remember also that the longer the cable, the thicker it should be.
- Don't let the running vehicle drive away for at least ten minutes. A discharged battery needs to be charged for a while, and sometimes it will drain again (especially if you don't keep your engine above idle).
- The hill (or push) starting method also works with the car in reverse. Reversing can be easier and requires lower speeds due to gearing. This also provides an alternative if the car is parked on a hill pointing upward and you cannot push it in that direction. You cannot start a car equipped with an automatic transmission unless it is capable of speeds in excess of 64 km / h (40 mph), which is not recommended as you will not have powerful brakes or a power steering.
- There is no danger of electrocution when jump starting most cars and trucks, since the voltage in this case is approximately 12 volts. This amount of electricity has not fatally electrocuted anyone. However, a small spark near a battery has caused explosions that have caused serious injury or burns. A spark caused by an accidental short circuit is large due to the amount of current or amps and not the voltage.
- Remember that batteries are not always located in the same place. Some vehicles have them under the hood, some behind the cabin, and some even in the trunk.
- Many jumper cables have picture instructions that explain the order of clamping.
- Consider purchasing an alternator if you leave your car parked and unused for long periods of time. You can find this item in stores that offer auto accessories and can be plugged into an AC outlet to keep the battery sufficiently charged and start the car.
- Avoid connecting the black wires first and the red wires later. If you do, and accidentally drop the red wire into the chassis, it will generate a massive short circuit, possibly soldering the clamp to the chassis.
- Starting a discharged car battery with current does not require “charging” it with another good battery. This is a common mistake. By connecting the jumper cables, you are simply starting the discharged car with the car's good battery. That is all. No charging period is necessary.
- Keep your face as far away from batteries as possible at all times.
- Never cross cables while they are connected to a car battery.
- A battery that is being charged or discharged generates hydrogen gas, which under certain circumstances can cause it to explode. For this reason, try to avoid connecting two batteries directly to each other (the 4 clips on the battery pins). You should use this procedure as a last resort if the main method does not work and you have taken the appropriate safety precautions. Make sure to stay away as sparks can be generated that could cause an explosion.