How to Jumpstart Your Vehicle

September 17th, 2020 by

Almost everyone has been here at least once in your life: you get into your vehicle to head to work, turn the key…and nothing happens. The most common culprit in this situation is your battery having died during the night. And while it is sometimes the result of accidentally leaving your lights on, it can also just be that your battery’s useful life is coming to an end – or even be the result of having to deal with our long, hot summers. But you don’t have to be left stranded – you can be on the road in about five minutes with a simple jumpstart.

What do you Need to Jumpstart a Vehicle?

Before you can jumpstart your car or truck, you need two things: a pair of jumper cables, and a “donor” battery, which is simply another vehicle with a functioning battery. Jumper cables can be purchased at any auto parts store, and even some large retailers. These long, thickly insulated cables have two alligator clips on each end, one red and one black, that attach to the batteries. The color of the clip indicates its polarity: red is positive, and black is negative. When purchasing jumper cables, look for ones with the thickest cables that are at least 20 feet in length. This means that, even in situations where lining up the vehicles right next to each other isn’t possible, you can still reach both batteries with the cables. Before jumping your vehicle, ensure that both operate on the same voltage system; never try to jump a 6V battery with a 12V battery, and vice versa.

How to Jumpstart a Vehicle Safely

While it may seem a little intimidating, jumping a battery is easy and safe, so long as you are careful and know what you are doing. A few things you should never do: touch the clips together when any are connected to the battery, or attempt to jump a battery with any defects or damage, including cracks, leakage, corrosion, or a battery that is frozen.

To jumpstart the vehicle, first start by parking the vehicles as close together as possible, either nose-to-nose or side-by-side. Open the hoods of both vehicles and remove any plastic shrouds that may cover the batteries. Identify the positive and negative battery terminals: the positive will have a “+” symbol, and most likely be red; the negative will have a “–” symbol, and most likely be black. Brush away any dust or dirt from the terminals, and connect the red clip to the dead battery’s positive terminal, and do the same on the donor battery. Next, connect the black clip to the donor battery’s negative terminal, and, for increased safety, attach the black clip to an unpainted engine bolt or a part of the vehicle’s frame. Turn on the donor vehicle, and let it run for a minute. Then, turn on the dead vehicle. If it starts, carefully disconnect the cables, and drive on to your destination.

While this will help fix a dead battery at least temporarily, it won’t help if your vehicle is having other issues. If the interior lights come on and you hear the engine turn over but it won’t start, or if you hear a clicking sound when you try to start the vehicle, take advantage of our free inspections and bring your vehicle in to us for a diagnosis.