Tips for Jump-Starting Your Car
You get into your car after a long day, put the key into the ignition, turn … and nothing happens. You try again; nothing happens. A dead battery could be the cause of the problem, creating an instant headache. But if you have jumper cables in your car and know how to use them properly, the problem can be resolved quickly.
Overall, jump-starting a car is easy, but you need to ensure you follow the proper steps and do it with caution. While hooking up the discharged battery to a live battery, you want to eliminate the possibility of creating sparks. There are flammable gasses in the engine compartment, and you must avoid sparking a fire. Establishing connections to the batteries in the proper order will eliminate sparks.
Take these steps when jump-starting your vehicle:
- Purchase a good set of jumper cables and always have them in your vehicle. The cables should have adequate insulated coating, and clean metal clamps at the ends.
- Open the hood of each car and locate each battery and its terminals. In some cases, the batteries are hidden, so the manufacturers will provide remote positive (+) and negative (-) posts to connect to.
- If possible, park the vehicle with the good battery close to the side of the vehicle with the drained battery.
- Turn off the ignitions of both vehicles and make sure the vehicles are in “Park” or “Neutral” depending on transmission type (automatic or manual). Turn off all accessories in each of the vehicles.
- Clamp one of the positive (red) jumper cables to the dead battery’s positive terminal. Make sure the matching (black) clamp is not touching any metal surfaces.
- Clamp the other end of the positive jumper cable to the positive terminal of the charged battery in the booster car. Then connect the negative cable end to the negative battery terminal in the booster car.
- Now that the negative cable is connected to the supplying battery, you can attach the other end to an unpainted metal surface on the engine of the car with the dead battery. Use the labeled remote negative terminal if available.
- Start the booster car and let it idle for a few minutes to build up a sufficient charge for the other vehicle’s drained battery. It sometimes helps to rev the engine in the booster car to quickly generate more energy.
- Start the vehicle with the dead battery and let the two idle for a few minutes. If the vehicle does not start, but makes a cranking noise, there could be another problem with the vehicle.
- Once the jump-started vehicle is running, carefully disconnect the jumper cables, reversing the connection order. The first cable you remove is the negative one that's attached to the dead battery. Make sure the person in the booster vehicle holds the cable away from any metal or the other cable ends while you disconnect the other ends from your vehicle.
- Now that the vehicle has been started, make sure you drive it for at least 15 minutes. This will give the alternator ample time to recharge the battery that was drained. Make sure you are somewhere safe or at your end destination before you shut the car off (in case you need to charge it again). If the problem persists, take the vehicle to a mechanic who can test the battery terminal or diagnose any other issues with the car.
Roadside Assistance Services
Of course, there may not be another vehicle around when you have a dead battery. So make sure you have Emergency Roadside Assistance coverage on your auto policy. For as little as $7-$25 a year, you will be covered 24/7/365 countrywide. Coverage includes:
- Towing to a service provider when your vehicle has a mechanical breakdown or when it is stuck in snow or mud.
- Lockout assistance to put you back in the driver's seat.
- Jump-starts for dead batteries so you aren't left stranded.
- Emergency fuel delivery of up to two gallons of fuel if you run out unexpectedly.
- Emergency fluid (e.g., oil or water) delivery to get you to the nearest service station.
- Flat tire changes using your spare to get you back on your way.
- Winching/ditch extractions to get you back on the road.
Our Risk Coaches™ are licensed insurance professionals who are trained to look at coverage from your perspective. They’re glad to help you navigate the often-perplexing world of insurance coverage. Start a quote online, or call us at 800.342.5342, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.