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How to jump start a car? A 6-step guide for beginners

Team Ackodrive16, Jul, 2021

It's essential to drive your car at periodic intervals. However, due to the pandemic-induced restrictions, many of us are forced within the four walls of our house. It means there are high chances that your car would have been sitting idle for weeks and even months.  Parking your vehicle for an extended period can cause many problems with the car's battery. A discharged battery results in starting troubles as it will not supply enough power to fire up the engine.

So what to do if your car starts showing signs of trouble during such times? The best and easiest way to start your car is by the jump start technique in such a scenario. But for that, you need a vehicle (donor) with a fully charged battery. The next question on your mind would be, how to jump start a car? Read ahead to know the steps involved in starting a vehicle with a dead battery.

How to jump start a car?

The process of jump starting a car is straightforward, and it could be an exciting DIY. The procedure is not as complicated as the term 'jump start’ sounds. But before you begin the process, you need to arrange a car (donor) with a fully charged battery and a jumper cable. Once you have sorted out the requirements, park both the cars parallel or the opposite with front-facing each other. Next, follow the below steps to jump start the vehicle.

  • Step 1 - Turn off the ignition of both the cars and connect the red jumper cable to the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery. Next, you can connect the other end of the red wire to the positive terminal of the charged battery. Ensure that you connect the cables in the same order.

  • Step 2 - Connect the black jumper cable to the charged battery's negative (-) terminal. Connect the other end of the wire to an unpainted metal surface of the car with the discharged battery. It acts as an earthing for the circuit.

  • Step 3 - Once done with the cable connection, turn on the car's engine with the charged battery. Let it idle for a minute or two so that the battery has enough charge to power up the discharged battery.

  • Step 4 - Next, crank the engine of the car with the dead battery. It should start without any hiccups. If not, check if the cables are connected to the correct terminals and start the vehicle.

  • Step 5 - Remove the jumper cable in the same order as you connected them.

  • Step 6 - Do not turn off the engine of the car with the dead battery. Let it idle for around 30 minutes so that the battery gets recharged.

How to jump start an automatic car?

Nowadays, most cars are equipped with automatic transmissions. Automatic cars are convenient to drive as there is no hassle of operating the clutch and shifting gears manually. The jump start process remains the same for a manual or an automatic car. 

Ensure that the vehicle is in ‘Park’ mode and engage the parking brake before initiating the procedure. Connect the jumper cables as mentioned in the above steps and start the automatic car with the dead battery.

How to use a jumper cable?

Apart from a donor car with a healthy battery, the only other tool required to jump start a car is the jumper cable. A jumper cable has two ends with two thick electric wires at each end. The ends of the cables are fitted with clips to connect to the battery terminals. One should be careful while connecting the jumper cable to the battery. An improper connection can lead to a spark/explosion. So, determine the correct terminals of the battery and the jumper cable before beginning the process.

Below are a few precautionary measures you need to take while using a jumper cable.

  • Ensure that the jumper cable is in good condition (Rust-free and no exposed wires).

  • Connect the jumper cable in the correct order and to the correct terminals.

  • Ensure that the jumper cables do not touch each other once they are connected.

  • Ensure that the jumper cable has both the red and the black wires. Do not attempt to jump start if any of the wire is missing.

Reasons for car battery drain out

There can be several reasons for a car battery to drain out. Here are some of the common causes.

  • Parking the car for extended periods: One of the most common reasons for a car battery to discharge itself is parking the vehicle for extended periods. You can’t drive the car in situations like lockdown, and it will be parked for several days/weeks. If the battery is already weak or a bit old, the battery can drain out pretty quickly.

  • Leaving the interior lights/headlights on: Leaving the interior lights or headlights on after parking your car can drain the battery in no time. But modern vehicles come with features to warn you if you leave the lights on.

  • Leaving the music system on: You turn on the music system and mute it while speaking on the phone or talking to someone else and forget to switch off the audio system. If you leave the ignition on with the music system on, the battery will discharge.

  • Charging electronic devices for too long: This is one of the common reasons for a dead battery. With the increased use of electronic gadgets, you may end up charging your smartphone, tablet, etc., on your car when the car is in ignition mode. It will result in battery drain out if you forget to disconnect the device from the charger.

Why do you need to jump start a car?

When the car battery discharges completely or goes dead, it cannot supply adequate power to start the engine or other electrical components. In such a scenario, you are left with only one option, to charge the battery. You can do it via charging the battery through a power outlet (requires charging equipment), or you can push-start the vehicle, which is an uphill task unless you find a downhill (slope) to push the car.

The third and the easiest option is to jump start the car with the help of another vehicle. You can easily find a donor car with a healthy battery to charge your car’s battery. With the use of a jumper cable, you can quickly charge the dead battery.

Why do you need to keep the engine running after you jump start the car?

Once you jump start the car with the dead battery, you need to let the engine idle for around 30 minutes so that the battery can recharge. If you immediately shut off the engine after jump starting the vehicle, the battery will not recharge, and you may not be able to start the car when you decide to take your car out. It is recommended that you take the vehicle for a short drive after the jump start process so that the battery has enough charge. Also, do not switch on the music system and AC immediately to speed up the battery charging.

The bottomline

A dead battery is one of the common problems for a car owner, especially in these difficult times with restrictions on vehicle movement. But you can quickly charge the battery with the help of the jump start technique. It is a straightforward process, and you can do it by yourself. However, if you are not comfortable handling the jumper cable and not aware of the fundamentals of a car battery, it’s better to get help from an expert mechanic.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some of the most common questions related to jump starting a car.

How can I determine if my car battery is dead?

The most common signs of a fully discharged battery are battery light on the dashboard, dim lights, no engine cranking sound while starting the car and ‘Check engine’ sign on the dashboard.

How can I start my car with a dead battery without another car?

If you cannot find another car with a fully charged battery, you cannot jump start the vehicle. The only option is to take the battery to the repair shop for charging or push the car to start the engine.

While jump starting a car, which cable should I connect first?

Ensure that you first connect the red wire to the discharged battery’s positive (+) terminal. Connect the other end of the red wire to the positive terminal of the charged battery.

Does jump starting my car damage the alternator?

No, the jump start technique does not damage the alternator, provided you connect the jump leads correctly and use the battery with the correct voltage to charge the dead battery.

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