How to jump start your car

The car battery can be a temperamental thing. Whether it’s because you’ve left your lights on, kept your radio playing without the engine running, or your engine is simply a little old, a flat battery is a roadside annoyance most drivers will face sooner or later. The good news though is that your situation is not as dire as it may sound, assuming you have another functional car or a manual transmission handy…

 

  1. First up, an obvious one: make sure the problem really in the battery. To do this, simply check the headlights. Are the dim or bright? If they’re dim, you’re dealing with a battery issue. If they’re bright, the real culprit is at large, and a jump start won’t help your situation.
  2. Second, the safety check. Are you’re jumper cables in working order? Are they robust and rubber coated to withstand the amperage? Are they correctly colour coded? All ticks? Ok then, you may proceed.
  3. If using another car (rather than a manual transmission), ensure both cars are safely parked with their batteries easily accessible and close enough together so the cables can reach from one to the other.
  4. Ensure both cars are off, and pop the hoods. Give both batteries a thorough once over and inspect for cracks, leaks or other damage. If any of these are present, do NOT attempt to jump start the car yourself, but call for roadside assistance instead.
  5. All things looking good though, time to attach your jumper cables. Remember, once they are connected, you must ensure the black and red ends never touch each other, as this can result in serious damage to both cars.
  6. Connect one RED clamp to the POSITIVE (+) terminal of the dead battery. Connect the other RED clamp (be careful, this clamp is now live) to the POSITIVE (+) terminal of the good battery.
  7. Next up, connect one BLACK clamp to the NEGATIVE (-) terminal of the good battery. The other black clamp now needs to be connected to a piece of unpainted grounded metal on the dead car, such as the bolt where the thick negative cable from the battery connects to the chassis. You may see a small spark when you connect to a good ground.
  8. Start the car with the good battery. As it is the battery and not the cables that will recharge your flat battery, rev the engine of the working car a little above idle for 30 to 60 seconds.
  9. Try starting the dead car. All things going smoothly, your car should start easily. If not, turn both cars off again and slightly wriggle each of the clamps to ensure a good electrical connection. If the car does still not start after this, there’s a good chance the battery is completely dead and will need to be replaced, which will require you to call a tow truck.
  10. Should your car start however, you now need to remove the clamps in reverse order to how you connected them.
  11. Keep the engine of the car with the drained battery running for at least 15 minutes now to ensure the battery is completely recharged. After that, you’re good as gold.