As many motorists know, keeping a set of jumper cables in the trunk is an excellent precaution. Car batteries can lose a charge, leaving the driver and any passengers stranded. With jumper cables, it is possible to jump start the vehicle by transferring electrical current from a fully charged battery to the dead battery. If you have never used a jumper cable set to start a battery, the process is very simple and requires no more than a few steps.
Your first task is to check the terminals on the apparently dead battery. If there is corrosion built up on the terminals, you may not have to pull your jumper cable set from the trunk. Simply clean the terminals and make sure the battery connections are reattached properly. However, if the car will still not start, it is time to get out the cables.
Because you need a fully charged battery to act as a power source, you will need assistance from another motorist. In order to make sure the jumper cable set will reach from the charged battery to the dead battery, position the vehicles so they either face one another or are side by side facing the same direction. The length of the cables should reach between the batteries without stretching their entire length. This will help to prevent any stress that would lead to one of the cables slipping out of place during the charge.
With the vehicles in place, it is time to attach the jumper cable set to the batteries. Note that the clips at the end of each jumper cable are color coded. The red clips should be attached to the positive terminal on each battery. One end of the black clip should be attached to the negative terminal on the working car, while the other end should be attached to a clean, non-painted metal surface on the other car. It should not be attached to the other negative terminal, because this can cause dangerous sparking or a fire. It is generally recommended to attach the clips to the fully charged battery first, then move on to the dead battery. Do not allow a positive and negative clip to come in contact with one another at any time during the process.
With the cables in position, start the working car and let it run for a few minutes and then try to crank the stalled vehicle. If the battery is extremely weak, it may take a couple of moments to charge sufficiently to start the engine. Once the stalled engine is running, remove the clips from the now recharged battery first. Next, remove the opposite set of clips from the second battery. Return the jumper cable set to the trunk.
In general, it is a good idea to allow the vehicle to run for several minutes before shutting it off. If you suspect that the battery needs replacement, drive the vehicle to a repair facility immediately. A damaged or old battery is not likely to hold a charge, meaning the car won’t start a second time if the engine is shut off. Take no chances and find a garage where a new battery can be installed.