How to jump start a dead battery

Vince L.    Advice compiled from various Calgary driving schools | November 7, 2014
ADET recently conducted a survey of young adults and teenagers who have recently started driving, and we found that more than half of our candidates have not boosted a battery before. We found that of the 40 percent that have, only 60 percent of those that have attempted a jump start before, did not remember how or would not be confident in doing this again.

With the appearance of road-side assistance and the boosted reliance of the vehicles today it is easy to understand why many have not had to learn how to jump start their cars. We at ADET feel that it is important for any driver to know how to jump start a car, as help may not be available - or it may take a long time before help comes.

How To Jump Start your car

Before You Begin:
  • Every vehicle can be slightly different; the best thing to start with is to consult the owner's manual before continuing.
  • If the owner's manual is missing or misplaced and you cannot find it, the best thing to do is to find the make and model of the vehicle and search for resources online before you continue.
  • After doing your research the first thing to do is the check your vehicle and shut off any features that require the use of electricity to prevent further draining of your already dying battery.
  • Now line up both the vehicles so that the batteries are as close together as possible. Many booster cables are short and may not reach the other battery.
  • Next make sure both vehicles are in park and the engine shut off. Make sure that there are no conductors connecting the car bodies.
  • Next double check again that all accessories and lights that require batteries are off or unplugged. This is important as all the features of the vehicle will also be drawing power from the good battery this can cause damage as the in-rush of voltage is taken from the good battery.
  • Now prop open the hood, make sure the retention system on the hood is secure, you don't want the car hood to sudden drop on top of you or the live connection.
  • Next familiarize yourself with the negative and the positive terminals of both vehicles. Check, then double check; as the results of mixing up the connections can be deadly.
Now you are ready to begin connecting the vehicles (while they are off)
Remember to keep all four ends of the booster cables from touching each other during this process.
  1. Connect one end of the positive cable (usually red) to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
  2. Now connect the opposite positive end of the same cable to the positive terminal of the good battery.
  3. Next connect the negative cable (usually black) to the negative terminal of the good battery.
  4. Now connect the negative cable to the negative terminal on the dead battery.
  5. You may now start the car with the good battery.
  6. Leave the cars for a few minutes, then attempt to start the car with a dead battery.
Removing the booster cables
Now that you have boosted your car it is important to disconnect the cables properly to avoid damage and injury. It doesn't matter where you start now as both the cars are now live and supplying electricity to the cables. The important thing to remember is to never complete the connection. First disconnect the cables from one of the vehicles.

  • Disconnect the cables from the terminals at one car
  • Now that you have a live connection take care not to just drop them on the ground or let them touch each other or anything else.
  • Use the cables insulation to prevent an unintentional connection. Clip one of the cables to the insulated body of the wire. This way it stays secure and will not touch.
  • Now disconnect the remaining cables from the other car.
Charging your battery back up
Now that you have gotten your car to start up do not turn it off. Your battery is still very low and most likely cannot support enough energy to start the car on its own. If you shut it off now, you will need to boost your car again. The best way to charge a dead battery is to leave the car running or idling. Your alternator only provides so much energy and when you turn on your headlights or heat while you drive this takes away from that finite supply of energy. If you leave the car idling then most of the volts provided from the alternator can go to charging the battery thus charging it faster.

After about 30 minutes or so you may start driving, however it is a good choice to go home right away in case there is something wrong with the battery and it doesn't hold a charge. Do not turn off your car engine until you have made it home or that you have someone to help you boost your vehicle again if it will not start.


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