When your car doesn't start when you turn on the ignition key, it's a terrible feeling, especially if you realize that you left your headlights on, and it's your fault. If a dead battery is the cause, you can usually get the car running again with jumper cables. Knowing ahead of time how to handle and use jumper cables is much preferred over trying to figure it out for the first time in the middle of the night in a strange parking lot.
First, you'll need a second car to help with the jump. The second vehicle should be similar in size to yours, so that both of your batteries are the same voltage.
Ask the driver of the second vehicle to pull in front of your car, so the engines are facing, but not touching one another.
The second vehicle should keep their engine running. Turn off all the lights and the radio on your vehicle to ensure that the charge will all go toward the battery, and not to the alternator.
Open the hoods of both vehicles.
Use a flashlight to locate the positive and negative terminals of the batteries. Just like a device battery, the positive terminal is denoted with a plus sign and the negative terminal is denoted with a minus sign.
Stand aside and disentangle the jumper cables. Do not allow the metal clamps to touch each other, the vehicles, or you. Do the following in the exact order specified:
- Attach one positive (red) clamp to the positive terminal on your dead battery.
- Attach the other positive (red) clamp to the positive terminal on the battery of the second vehicle.
- Attach the other negative (black) clamp to the negative terminal on the battery of the second vehicle.
- Attach one negative (black) clamp to the negative terminal on your dead battery.
Ask the driver of the second vehicle to gently rev their engine, while you attempt to start your vehicle.
If all goes well, your vehicle should come to life.
Allow your vehicle to continue charging for about a minute before removing the jumper cables. Do not turn your car engine off while you remove the cables.
Next, do the following in the exact order, being sure not to let the clamps touch you, the vehicle chassis, or each other.
- Remove the negative clamp from your vehicle
- Remove the negative clamp from the second vehicle.
- Remove the positive clamp from your vehicle.
- Remove the positive clamp from the second vehicle.
There are many hazards that go along with starting a car with jumper cables. If you aren't completely comfortable doing this, enlist the help of an emergency roadside assistance company like Fort McMurray Towing tire service.