How To Jump-Start Your Vehicle
Have you ever gone to start your truck to find a dead battery? Well, it's not a pleasurable experience. Here is how you should properly (and *safely*) jump-start your car or truck. Jump-starting, also referred to as boosting, is when you use a vehicle with a good battery to power (or start) a vehicle with a bad battery.
- Follow these instructions at your own risk!
- Make sure the vehicles are not touching, and that the jumper cables will easily reach both batteries.
- Make sure both vehicles are 12V (volt) systems (almost all cars in the last 50+ years use 12V - other vehicles such as ATV's, snowmobiles, etc. may use a 6V or other system, so they will not work).
- If there are any visual signs of damage of the dead battery, such as acid leaking, cracks, etc., DO NOT attempt to jump start it. It could be very dangerous. In this case, buying a new battery is your only real option.
- On the vehicle with the dead battery, make sure everything is turned off (lights, ignition, etc.)
- Check the batteries of both vehicles. Make sure you can clearly identify which is the positive (red) terminal and which is the negative (black) terminal. If you get these mixed up, you can fry both vehicle's electronics.
- Make sure the vehicle with the good battery is running, and then connect
the cables! This must be done in the following order:
- Connect one red clamp to the positive terminal of the dead battery
- Connect the other red clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery
- Connect the black clamp to the negative terminal of the good battery
- Connect the remaining black clamp to a ground of some sort on the vehicle with the dead battery. Do not connect it directly to the negative terminal. Examples of good grounds are: clean, metal surfaces (bolts or brackets). Note, you may get a small spark when you connect this final clamp.
- Once they are connected properly, wait a minute or so (the good battery will slightly charge the bad battery). If the cables are connected correctly, the interior lights and other things on the bad car should work.
- Start the car with the bad battery. If it doesn't start within 30 seconds, stop cranking and give it a break. If you crank too long, you can burn out your starter.
- Once the car is going, disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order:
- Remove the negative cable from the dead battery car
- Remove the negative cable from the good battery
- Remove the positive cable from the dead/weak battery
- Remove the positive cable from the good battery.
- It's a good idea now to let the car with the weak battery run for a few minutes, and then do the following test. Turn the car off, and see if it can start on it's own. If it can, great, you're on your way. If not, you'll need to boost it again and have the charging system checked out (or do it yourself).
If the vehicle won't start after being jump-started, there could be a bad connection somewhere. Be sure to make sure all the wires and terminals are tight and are not covered in corrosion (usually white stuff). Sometimes the wires might be tight at the battery, but loose elsewhere (starter, solenoid, etc.). I've seen many times where a vehicle doesn't start simply because one of the battery cables was loose (somewhere down the line). Also, make sure your jumper cable clamps are tightly gripping the batteries & ground.
This article is not meant to be comprehensive. If following this procedure does not help, you should probably get a qualified mechanic to look at the vehicle.