Whether you left the lights on overnight or you simply have an old battery, no car will be able to start if its battery is drained. If you turned the key in the ignition and the car won’t start, chances are your battery needs to be recharged. All you need is a pair of jumper cables or a portable jump starter. It’s a good idea to keep both in your car emergency kit or in the trunk.
If you’re not sure how to jumpstart your car or think the problem might be bigger than the battery, contact HEART Certified Auto Care. We’ll find out exactly why your car isn’t starting and get you back on the road in no time.
There are a few things to consider before trying to jumpstart your car. Make sure you have the right jumper cables or jump starter. Each pair of jumper cables has a gauge that denotes their strength. Standard jumper cables are gauge six. Also check the length of the cables. The shorter the cables, the less length the charge from one battery has to travel to the other battery.
Jumpstarting a battery can cause sparks to fly. Keep other people at a safe distance from the engine. Some vehicles require extra steps to have a successful jump, so read your owner’s manual for your car.
There are several benefits to using a portable jump starter instead of jumper cables. You don’t need 2 vehicles for a successful jump. You can perform a jump on the road without having to wait. Most models are affordable and long lasting—just periodically recharge it to make sure it’s ready when you might need a jump start.
How to jumpstarting a dead battery with a portable jump starter
- Check your portable jump starter. Make sure it is clean, charged, and turned off. If this is your first time using a portable jump starter, read the instructions that come with it.
- Place the vehicle in park or neutral. Shut off the ignition and engage the parking brake.
- Attach the positive red clip to the positive terminal of your dead battery. The positive terminal either has “POS” or a “+” written on it. It’s also bigger than the negative terminal.
- Attach the negative black clip to a clean, unpainted, and non-moving metal part of your car’s frame or engine block. Choose an area away from the battery, carburetor, fuel lines, engine rocker covers, and intake manifold.
- Turn the portable jump starter on.
- Try starting your car. Do not crank the engine for more than five seconds.
- If the jump works and your car starts, keep the engine running.
- Turn the portable jump starter off and remove it. Uncouple first the negative black clip and then the positive red clip.
- If the jump doesn’t work and your car doesn’t start, wait between 2 and 3 minutes before trying again. If you need to readjust the cable clips, turn both the jump starter and car off first. If you can’t get your car to start after 4 or 5 attempts, you may need to replace the battery.
- If you don’t have a portable jump starter, you will need another vehicle to jump start your battery.
Steps to jumpstarting a dead battery with jumper cables
- Phone a friend or call an emergency service like AAA. To jumpstart a dead car battery, you will need to use power from a working battery. If you don’t own jumper cables either, you will need assistance from someone with a car and with jumper cables.
- Place both vehicles in park or neutral. Shut off the ignitions of both cars, and engage the parking brakes.
- Attach one of the red clips on the jumper cables to the positive terminal of your dead battery.
- Connect the other red clip to the positive terminal of the charged battery in the other vehicle.
- Attach one of the black clips on the jumper cables to the negative terminal of the charged battery.
- Connect the other black clip to the negative terminal of your dead battery.
- Start the car with the charged battery, and let the engine run for several minutes.
- Try starting your car.
- If your car doesn’t start, make sure the cables are connected properly to both batteries. Let the car with the charged battery run for five minutes, then try to start your car again. If it still won’t start, your battery may need to be replaced.
- If the jump works, and your car starts, keep the engine running.
- Remove the jumper cables from both batteries in reverse order to prevent sparking. First, remove the black negative clip from your previously dead battery.
- Remove the other black clip from the other car.
- Remove the red positive clip from the other car.
- Finally, remove the other red clip from your car.
If you car does not start after a few jumpstarting attempts or if it dies again shortly after a successful jump, there are other issues that need to be addressed. Most batteries are made to last between 4 and 6 years. If it’s older, it might be time to replace it. If your battery should be working, there could be problems with other engine components.
Bring your vehicle into one of HEART Certified Auto Care’s three convenient locations in Evanston, Wilmette, or Northbrook if your car is having problems starting. We can take a look at your battery, alternator, ignition switch, and starter connection when we change your oil or rotate your tires.