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Learn How to Jumpstart a Car In 5 Steps

It’s always handy to have a skill ready for when you encounter car emergencies.
IMAGE Pixabay
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Knowing how to jumpstart a car with a dead battery is an essential life skill.

We all live busy lives, and it’s very easy to forget to turn off the lights, radio, air conditioner, or any other electrical gadget inside the vehicle after a long, hard day.

Unfortunately, these simple acts of neglect can result in bigger problems. Leaving any electrical apparatus switched on even after turning the engine off causes car batteries to get discharged. With discharged batteries, automobiles just don’t work.

So what do you do when your vehicle just won’t start? Fortunately, it’s possible to revive a dead car battery through five simple steps. Anybody can do it as long as they have the proper equipment and know-how.

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How long does it take to jumpstart a dead car, anyway?

It depends on the discharged battery, but jumpstarting a car in one try may just take roughly 40 minutes.

The process of jumpstarting a car per se is a very quick process—connecting the jumper cables to the batteries may take only one to two minutes. Letting the engines run to make sure the batteries are sufficiently charged prolongs the process, as it can take about 30 minutes or longer.

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1| Take out the jumper cables.

It’s always wise to keep a set of jumper cables in your trunk. It doesn’t matter if you think you won’t use it anytime soon anyway or if you don’t know how to jumpstart a car yet—just keep it in there. Besides, it doesn't take much space anyway, and you’ll never know when emergencies will strike.

Familiarize yourself with how these electric cables work. The red wire is for the positive charge, while black is for the negative. Make sure the color-coded clips stay away from each other because opposing colors can emit electrical shocks when they touch. In choosing jumper cables, remember that thicker cords provide better jumps.

2| Find another car with operating batteries.

Once you do find yourself in a situation where your car’s battery dies on you, don’t panic. With jumper cables at hand, all you’ll need now is another vehicle with working batteries and you can easily work on jumpstarting your car.

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Make sure to shift both cars to neutral or in park mode first before you get into action. It’s also important to keep the engines turned off, as well as all electrical apps inside: lights, radio, air conditioners, wipers, etc. Do not forget to also engage the handbrakes.

3| Attach the cables.

Knowing how to jumpstart a car is quite a breeze, but here’s where it gets tricky because this next process needs to be done in chronological order.

Take the jumper cables and fasten one clamp of the red cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery. It’s hard to miss this because it is usually bigger than the negative terminal, or is labeled with “POS” or the plus sign. In most cases, the terminals are also color-coded similar to the cables, so you’ll just have to match the clamps to their respective terminals.

Then take the other end of the red clip to the positive terminal of the running car’s battery. Next, take one of the black clips to the negative terminal, again of the running car’s battery. Lastly, attach the other end of the black cable to an unpainted metal surface. Use the clean metal surface or one of the steel struts usually found under the vehicle’s hood.

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It might all seem confusing at first, but learning how to jumpstart a car becomes easy once you get the hang of it.

4| Start the operating vehicle and let the engine run for a few minutes.

The next step now is to see if everything you’ve learned about how to jumpstart a car has worked so far.

Start the engine of the working car and just let it run for about two to three minutes. This is just to let the power run. Make sure to wait for ample time before starting the jumped car to let the battery sufficiently power up. And then remove the cables in reverse order—black clips first then the red ones.

5| Start the jumped car.

Lastly, turn on the ignition switch of your vehicle. If it starts, you’ve successfully applied all the basic things in knowing how to jumpstart a car. Do not turn off the engine immediately—keep it running for at least 30 minutes to give battery sufficient time to recharge.

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If the jumped vehicle still doesn’t start after going through the first four steps, make sure the jumper cables are properly in place and were attached in order. Try starting the other car again and wait for around five to 10 minutes this time before starting your vehicle's engine.

You can keep repeating these steps, but make sure to wait at least three minutes between each try. If your car still refuses to start after doing these steps, your battery may be suffering from a more serious problem or it may be beyond your basic troubleshooting skills. Or it could be another problem entirely. You may have to replace the battery completely, so it’s best to contact your mechanic in these situations.

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