Jump! How to boost your Car Battery
The other day I met a group of people hanging out in a parking lot. At first I wondered if it was the start of a car show or maybe the first chapter meeting of the Minivan Owners of Ajax. It turns out one of the vans wouldn’t start and the other people wanted to help jump start it. The problem is that they didn’t really know how and no one had cables. I know how but unfortunately left my cables in my other vehicle. I imparted what I knew while they waited for cables to arrive.
Here are some simple steps to jump start a vehicle:
1. Double check that it is indeed your battery.
Signs of a bad battery:
Try starting the car. A slow crank or no crank at all means a bad battery
Note: The dash lights and radio will still work. If you don’t even get a flicker of lights or sound, you might have a problem with the ignition.
2. Locate the battery. Usually either on the right or left of the engine compartment. Mostly found at the front of the engine and sometimes between the engine and firewall. Occasionally, it is in the trunk. When in doubt read the manual.
Once you find the battery identify the terminals:
Red + for positive
Black – for negative
3. Park the working vehicle near the disabled vehicle. Keep the distance between batteries as close as possible but do NOT let the vehicles touch. Turn off the engine, radio, lights, A/C, fans and all other electronic devices on both vehicles.
4. Be safe. Wear eye protection and gloves if you have them. Inspect both batteries for damage. If you find cracks or leaks do not attempt to jump start the vehicle. Call a tow truck or replace the battery.
It might be necessary to remove the battery cables from the disabled vehicle to clean both the cable ends and the terminals to remove any corrosion. Once cleaned, replace the cables to the proper terminal.
5. Straighten out the jumper cables and inspect them for damage. The cables are usually colour coded red and black with heavy duty clamps at both ends. Make sure the red and black ends never touch each other once they are connected to a battery. This can result in arcing damaging one or both vehicles. Keep all loose cables away from moving parts within the engine compartment.
6. Connect the jumper cables in the this order:
Red clamp to positive (+) terminal of dead battery
Red clamp to positive (+) terminal of good battery
Black clamp to negative (-) terminal of good battery
Black clamp to a piece of grounded metal on the disabled car.
First choice for a ground would be the bolt where the thick negative cable from the battery connects to the chassis. Or look for clean unpainted metal that is attached to the engine. This can be a nut, bolt or protruding shapes. You many see a spark when you make the connection to a good ground. As a last resort, you may use the negative (-) post of the dead battery. However, there is a risk of igniting the gasses coming off the battery.
7. Start the working vehicle and let it idle for a few minutes. Rev it just a bit above idle for 30-60 seconds. If 30 seconds doesn’t do it, try going the full 60.
8. Try to start the disabled vehicle. If it doesn’t start, shut of the working car off and remove the last connection point. Wiggle the remaining connections to test for good contact and then reattach the last connection. Start the working car again and allow 5 minutes of charging before attempting to start the disabled vehicle. If this doesn’t work after a few tries it is time to either tow the vehicle or replace the battery.
9. Remove the cables once the disabled vehicle starts. Do this in reverse order in which they were attached. Don’t let the clamp ends touch and make sure the cables aren’t dangling into the engine compartment.
– Black clamp from ground on the disabled car.
– Black clamp from negative (-) terminal of good battery
– Red clamp from positive (+) terminal of good battery
– Red clamp from positive (+) terminal of dead battery
10. Run the disabled vehicle just above idle for 5 minutes and then at or above idle for 20 minutes before shutting it off. This should give enough charge for the vehicle to start again. If not the battery needs to be replaced or the alternator is going bad.