How to successfully jump start your car

Recharging a car battery from a car

Car issues can make your day go from good to bad. If you’ve been stuck with a flat car battery, you’ll need to jump start your car, but do you know how to do this?

Find out what steps you need to follow to get your car running again, and the five checks you should make beforehand (for your own safety as well as your cars).

Five essential checks

  1. Have you got jump leads?

If you are sure that your car isn’t starting because of a flat battery, you’ll need to get your hands on some jump leads.

Jump leads have one black ‘negative’ cable and one red ‘positive’ cable at each end. Check if you have a set in your car, if not, borrow them from someone else.

Once you’ve got the jump leads, the next thing you’ll need is another car with a charged battery.

  1. Are either of the batteries leaking?

Remember to check that neither of the two batteries is leaking or damaged, as this could make a jump start dangerous. If you see a bubbly liquid seeping through a vent cap, bloated or warped battery casing, a rotten egg smell emanating from the battery solution, or noticeable corrosion around the battery terminal caps, abandon the jump start and go to a professional mechanic.

  1. Are you close to any naked flames?

Even if the battery isn’t leaking or damaged, you should still look around to make sure there aren’t any naked flames or nearby cigarettes in the vicinity.

  1. Is clothing and jewellery out of the way?

Make sure your clothing and any metal items like jewellery are away from the battery.

  1. Have you removed keys from the ignition?

Don’t forget to check that keys are removed from both cars before you connect the cables.

Time to get to it

Once you’ve carried out these checks, you can begin to jump start your car.

The front of both cars should be facing each other so that the batteries are close enough to connect with the jump cables.

Then it’s time to connect your jump cables. Make sure you do it in this order:

  1. Attach the red ‘positive’ lead to the positive terminal on the working car
  2. Connect the other red lead to the positive terminal on the dead car
  3. Connect the black ‘negative’ lead to the negative terminal on the working car
  4. Connect the other end to an earthing point (unpainted metal on the engine block or chassis) on the dead car, well away from the flat battery and fuel system

Once all four ends of the jump lead cables are attached, wait for five minutes, then start the engine of the car with the charged battery.

Then, try to start the dead car – if it doesn’t start within a few minutes, wait and try again.

Once the car with the flat battery is running again, leave both car engines on for 10 minutes. After this, you can start to remove the cables in the reverse order to the way they were put on.

You should have now successfully jump started your car and can get on with the rest of your journey.

Mechanics could be overcharging you because of your gender. Read more here.

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