How to Jumpstart Your Car

  • By Eric Evenstad
  • 01 Jul, 2017
Few things are as frustrating as getting into your car, whether on the way to work, on the way home from a long day, or at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, and realizing that the car won’t start. It could be the alternator or the starter, but in many cases, the battery is dead. It is easy enough to tell if the battery is the issue, and to get back on the road again if it is, by jumpstarting the car. If the car starts and runs normally after the jump, the problem is with the battery. Yet many people are unaware of proper jumpstarting procedures. Here’s what to do.
One car helping another to jump start in winter

Jumpstart Battery Pack
A portable jumpstart battery pack is the easiest way to jumpstart your car. These self-contained units include the cables you need to hook up along with the battery power needed to start your vehicle. Many also include a variety of other helpful roadside devices, such as a DC power outlet, bright work light, and maybe even an air compressor. Remember that bigger vehicles require more power, so choose a model with higher cranking amps (CA).

To connect your battery pack to your car battery, simply hook the positive clamp (normally red) to the positive terminal on your battery. Then hook the negative clamp (usually black) to a metal point on your car’s engine or chassis. Turn on the battery pack and let it charge for a few minutes, and then try to start the car. You might need to try a few times, but be sure not to exceed the maximum charge time recommended by the battery pack manufacturer. Disconnect the negative clamp, then the positive clamp. Drive around for a few minutes to fully recharge the battery.

Jumper Cables
Jumper cables are the tried and true method of jumpstarting a dead car battery. This requires a set of cables and a willing participant with a running car. It’s a bit more complicated than using a battery pack, but is not inherently difficult. Here are the steps:

  1. Point the cars nose to nose if possible, about 18 inches apart. If this can’t be done, bring the front of the running car as close as you can to the front of the car with the dead battery. Set the parking brakes on both cars.
  2. Connect the positive clamp (usually red) to the positive battery terminal. Then connect the negative clamp (usually black) to a metal part of the car away from the battery.
  3. Clear everyone away from both engine compartments.
  4. Start the car with the good battery. Rev the engine slightly by gently pressing the accelerator pedal.
  5. Allow the battery to charge for one to two minutes.
  6. Start the car with the previously dead battery. You may need to try a couple of times.
  7. Disconnect the negative clamp first, followed by the positive clamp.
  8. Drive the previously dead car for several minutes to allow the battery to fully finish charging.

If the battery drain had an obvious cause, such as leaving the lights on, then it may still be a good battery. However, if there was no obvious reason for the battery to drain, or if you need to jumpstart your car more than every once in a great while, it is important to have the battery checked. Batteries wear out over time, and eventually you will find that it can no longer be charged. Rather than risking this happening at an inopportune moment, it is better to simply have the battery replaced as soon as you know it is dying.

If you are tired of getting the runaround and being treated like you haven’t got a clue, we invite you to try Colchin Automotive  instead. Give us a call at 303-431-5421 for all of your automotive needs!

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