2 Ways To Jump-Start A Car: Easy Steps To Bring Your Dead Battery

You may have seen examples of people jumping a car on television or in movies, but you may never have done it yourself. Season 2 Episode 7 of Breaking Bad comes to mind when Walter White and Jesse Pinkman became stuck in the desert because the latter had left the key in the ignition of the RV for many days. They ended up making a battery out of galvanized metal and copper and jumped the car.

You don’t have to go to that much of an extreme in order to jump start your car however, but there are a few similarities to that scenario that you need to know about. They had a different power source with which to jump the car battery and they used jumper cables in order to do it; both things that you need to have.

Then, you can begin jumping your car.

Before You Start

There are a few things that you should note before you jump your car. These include some safety precautions that can make the job easier, and they can also prevent injuries that can be easily avoided.

• You should park both cars in a way that their batteries are the closest that they can be. The cars shouldn’t touch of course, but it helps if they’re close together. There could be issues if the cars are far apart, like the length of the cables. And it goes without saying that you should turn off both cars before beginning.
• You should also check if all the cell phones that you have with you are turned off. They should be detached from the sockets in the car. The car radios and blinkers and all the accessories should be turned off. This includes any cigarette lighters and headlights as well.
• The reason for this is that jump starting a battery can move an excess of 300 volts through the system. This can short circuit those accessories or permanently damage them.
• If there is any corrosion around any of the battery terminals, you should clean it off. Use a wire brush. While doing this, you should loosen the screws and wires. This way you can get in between the nooks and crannies so you can clean better.
• Familiarize yourself with the positive and negative terminals of the battery. They’re usually rubbed off by the corrosive battery acid over time. This way, you won’t be mistaken if you have to jump start your car in a hurry. If you can’t remember, then always mark the terminals with a marker and keep checking for visibility.
• If there is a crack in the battery and the acid is leaking out, stop immediately. Get another battery to replace it. If you try to jump start it with that crack, there is a risk of an explosion. Don’t take that risk.
• Don’t ever try to drive while your car is being jump started. This could damage the hood of your car and it could also damage the other car and its battery.
• If you don’t have access to another car, then you can use a jump box, or a battery pack. You can buy this very easily. These battery packs have improved incredibly through the years and have reduced in price. There are benefits to jump starting a car without another car. The most obvious one is that you won’t need another car.

2 Methods to Jumpstart Your Car

There are two ways to jump start a car, with or without cables. Both methods are equally effective at jumpstarting a car, so it’s entirely up to you which method you should choose.

Method 1. Using Jumper Cables

You need to have jumper cables for this and a second car or power source with which you can connect the jumper cables.

• First you should make sure that both the cars are turned off.
• The positive terminals of the two batteries should be connected via the red jumper cables. Make sure that the red jumper cables are used for the positive terminals always.
• Then connect the black or negative jumper cable to the negative terminal of the good battery and the other cable to a clean or unpainted metal surface under the disabled car’s hood.
• Start the good char and run it for about 2 to 3 minutes. Press the accelerator in short intervals as well to pump more juice. Then start the car that was disabled. If it starts, then follow through with the next steps, otherwise repeat this step.
• Then remove the cables in reverse order; black first and red after.
• Keep the car that has been jump started running for about 30 minutes so that the battery is given sufficient time to recharge.

This should fix up the car battery for the next few days.

The hardest part of the process is to remember the positioning of each cable. Many people break out in sweats when it’s time to jump a car because the positioning of the cables isn’t very well recognized. The good news is that it’s impossible to electrocute yourself while jumping a car so you shouldn’t worry about loss of life.

The battery may give you a shock at worst, but the voltage is too low to penetrate your skin and put your down. To remember the positive and negative cable colors, the red is for blood, which is positive and the black is for death which is negative.

Method 2. Without Cables

This is a bit more complicated than jumping with cables. Many of you know of this procedure by the name of ‘push starting the car’. However, in case you’re alone, this is what you can do.

• First find a clear patch of road where there are no obstructions and the patch is going downhill. Then fully depress the clutch and put the car in to first gear.
• Turn the ignition on and take your foot off the brake. This will take the car downhill and the clutch will be fully depressed.
• When you reach 5-7 miles per hour, release the clutch quickly and you should feel the engine turn and start. If it doesn’t start the first time, then depress the clutch and release it again.
• When the car starts, shift in to neutral and press the accelerator and keep the car running on high for about a full minute. This will charge the alternator.
• If you don’t have a hill, then you can get your friends or some good Samaritans to help you push the car while you follow the steps outlined above.

Granted, this is a much less effective way of starting the car or jump starting it than using cables. It’s something that should be tried as a last straw and you should replace the battery as soon as possible once you’re in a safe location which is close to home.

Now that you know this, you may be thinking: How do I know I need to Jump my Car? And that’s a very valid question. There are a few signs that you need to keep in mind. Most of them point to a dead or dying battery.

What Are the Signs of a Dead Battery?

There are several tell tale signs that your battery is going to die or is dead already. Let’s go through them one by one.

1. The Engine Cranks but doesn’t Start

If your car engine turns over or cranks but doesn’t start every time you hit the ignition key, then the fault lies in your battery. Even if the car is cranking very vigorously or if it’s even growling, and it’s not starting, it means that the battery is devoid of power.

This could be true even if you measure the battery with an ammeter and it shows that the battery is good. The problem may be due to the battery being devoid of voltage.

Most people are familiar with this situation and this is a perfect situation to jump the car. Once it’s running again however, you should let the car run for about 30 minutes so that the alternator charges up the battery again. This is a precaution, but a necessary one which can really give your battery a boost for the next few days.

You should also remember to turn off the car after the half hour, and when you’ve reached a safe destination, and then wait a minute before starting it again. At this point, most batteries would have charged up from the alternator and would be fine for a day or two, but don’t take this time for granted and replace the battery as soon as possible.

2. The Headlights don’t light up and the engine doesn’t start

This is pretty straightforward and even a novice would know that the battery is at fault. Since the battery powers all the necessary electrical elements in the car, the lights not coming on would mean that it is truly on its last legs.

Be aware that in this situation, there could be a dual problem with the alternator as well as the engine. However, if the headlights do work and there is no cranking, then this may indicate that there is a mechanical problem in the engine instead of a straightforward battery drain problem.

3. One day it starts and then won’t start the Next

If your battery keeps acting up and starts one day and doesn’t the next, this can mean a couple of things.

The battery terminals may be loose, broken or corroded or calcified. This could also be due to a parasitic draw, which means that there is a gizmo in the car that could be draining your battery while it’s turned on when it’s supposed to be off. This could be due to an internal wiring problem as well.

In any of these cases you should:

• Check out the battery cables first since they’re the prime suspects and easier to check for yourself.
• Make sure that the cables aren’t loose on the battery posts so that there is zero play in them. When they’re screwed on tight, there should be no wiggle room at all. The cables connected to the terminal shouldn’t be failing or frayed at all. If they are then they should be replaced as soon as possible.

You should suspect parasitic draw if the car starts up when you drive several days in a row, but doesn’t when you let it sit for a day or two. Parasitic draws are fairly common and internal wiring problems arise in old cars. You should see a mechanic in case there is parasitic draw.

h-3: 4. Cold Cranking is hard Work

Somewhere on your battery, there is a label with a number for cold cranking amps. The amps are responsible for giving the engine enough energy in the morning or during the first time of day. His is known as cold cranking. Not surprisingly because when you turn the engine on the first time of day, it has trouble starting because it has been lying in the cold.

It’s not surprising then that an early sign of your battery running out of juice is that it’s regularly putting extra energy in to starting the vehicle.

If you have to put in extra effort every single morning to start the car and all you get is weak rotations of the engine before it suddenly starts up, then you have a battery problem.

If you have to do this about three times a week, then you should definitely jump your battery.

Keep in mind that in very, very cold climates, this is a normal occurrence and doesn’t necessarily mean that your battery is dying. Remember that at 0 F, a car battery puts out nearly half of its power, and when it’s 32 F, it puts out a third of its power.

However, when the weather gets warmer, the car should return to a consistent cold crank. Otherwise, it definitely is in need of some juice.

Another reason that cold cranking may be hard for your car is that the battery is simply too small or too weak to start your car.

This could be because your mechanic has mistakenly put in a battery that is unfit for your car or that you’ve mistakenly gotten a bad battery for your car. You should investigate and get in touch with the brand that has made your car and find out which battery suits it best.

5 You’ve jumped the Battery quite a few times in a Single Week

There is a hard and fast rule that you should follow if you own a vehicle. It doesn’t matter if the battery is old or maybe the starter or alternator goes bad or if you’ve left the headlights on the door ajar all night or if you’ve run out of gas.

The rule is that if you’ve had to jump your car more than three times in a single week, then you should replace the battery.

A fairly new battery can also turn in to a dud very quickly if it’s been jumped more than three times in a week. It’s hard on your battery if you use a jump box or a jumper cable on the battery. Since you’re literally shocking it back to life, it’s becoming damaged little by little, being overpowered and taken to its limit.

If you don’t replace the battery, eventually the alternator and the starter will go bad and the battery will completely fail and then no amount of jumping will save it. This is why you should replace the battery as soon as possible if it needs jumping three times a week.

Miscellaneous Signs of a Dying Battery

1. Pre-Startup

• The lights, gauges, dash lights, and all electrical elements don’t come on when turning the key in the ignition
• The battery needs to be jumped every 3-5 days
• The battery dies after every 15 or 30 minutes while the engine is off when the other accessories, like the radio, are running
• The starter and/or alternator are dead and have been replaced once before

2. During Startup

• The key has to be turned over 3 times or more before the engine starts
• The lights tend to dim every time you turn the key
• In colder weather, the car takes a long time before it starts up
• The accessories belt squeals before and after startup

3. While Driving

• Mildly rough idle during traffic stops
• Radio and other accessories shut off intermittently
• The accessories belt squeals during driving up hills or during hauling
• When you press the accelerator, the lights and the accessories dim/blink

If you follow these instructions then you’ll be able to jump start your car pretty easily. Remember to regularly check your battery for water if you want to avoid this issue altogether.

Sources:
1. Five Signs Your Car Battery Is Dead (or About to Die) – AxleAddict
2. How to Jump Start a Car – The Complete Guide – Art of Manliness
3. Warning Signs of a Car Battery Dying – It Still Runs
4. What Requirements and Precautions To Take While Jump Start a Car – Excellent Blogs from Medium
5. HOW TO JUMP A CAR BATTERY WITHOUT ANOTHER CAR – Advance Auto Parts

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