Auto Repair St. Louis, Brakes, Tires, Suspension, Alignment

How To Jump Start A Vehicle

HOW TO JUMP START A VEHICLE ?It is quite easy to cause serious and expensive damage to a computer-controlled vehicle.

Please consult your owner’s manual because jumping vehicles has changed a lot in the last 20 years.

NEVER touch or remove the battery cables while the engine is running.

Battery Vapor is Explosive – Keep all sparks away from the Battery.

It is important to reduce voltage surges into the system and avoid sparks where possible.

  1. Refer to your Owner’s Manual.

Start with your owner’s manual and know where your jumper connections and your vehicle’s battery are located.  Today’s vehicles make what used to be a simple process much more complicated; and while helping a stranded motorist may seem like a noble task, it is not worth doing potential damage to your own vehicle.

  1. Locate Jumper Connections.

Pictured here    is a battery and cables off a 2004 vehicle, please note that the red and black cables are clearly defined and there are no other devices connected to the cables.  It is easy to tell which is negative and which is positive and where to attach the jumper cables.

In figure 2 we now have a newer vehicle with a couple things attached to the cables, these are fuses and if they blow you can and will be stranded, which is a high price to pay for trying to help someone out.

In figure 3 we have a battery that is hard to determine which terminal is positive & negative.

Notice in figure 4 the screwdriver pointing at the + that is molded in the battery case

In figure 5   you are looking at a positive jumper post, the battery on this vehicle is not accessible and the jumping will be done at these points under the hood.

In figure 6 this is the negative jumper post.  The battery may be in the trunk or under the floorboards of the interior, so this is where the owner’s manual comes in to help locate these posts in the engine compartment.

  1. Connect the Cables in the correct order.

You must have cables connected positive to positive and negative to negative. We have had customers blow the PCM Power Train Control Module (Engine Computer) by hooking up jumper cables incorrectly. It is still possible to do damage even if we hook them up correctly.

Here is the order of which the cables should be hooked up, and since it is important not to have cables touching each other during this process, having two people doing this is highly recommended.

Red Cable (positive) to battery post on the dead car 1st

Red Cable (positive) to battery post on the jumper car

Black Cable (negative) to battery post on the jumper car

Black Cable (Negative) to ground on the vehicle. This is not going to the battery. Look for a negative jumper post and if you cannot find one look for a good bare metal place that will not move when the engine is started.

In figure 7 you are looking at the 3 strut mounting bolts and they are usually a good place to hook to avoid a spark at the battery.

  1. Attempt to start the disabled vehicle.

Once the cables are hooked up, start the jumper car 1st and let it run for a few minutes and then try the dead vehicle. If the vehicle does not start, let it run for a few more minutes and try again.  Please understand the battery may be at the point of no return and/or there may be another problem that is preventing the engine from starting.  One of the things we see commonly is what we call green death. This green corrosion forms on electrical connections and can keep a vehicle from starting as it will not let enough amperage to flow to start the vehicle.

  1. Unhook the Cables in Reverse Order.

Unhook these cables in the exact reverse order once again not touching any of the cables together during the process.

Black Cable (negative) to ground on dead car.

Black Cable (negative) to battery post on the jumper car

Red Cable (positive) to battery post on the jumper car

Red Cable (positive) to battery post on the dead car

Important Information:  Even if the vehicle successfully starts, call your Trusted Mechanic to have the car inspected and the starting and charging system tested.   At the least, you may have a bad battery but there are usually underlying problems which caused the battery to fail.  See our page on Starting and Charging systems for more detail about this system.  Do not take the vehicle to a parts store and just have the battery tested.  There is no substitution for a qualified Technician looking at the entire system since you could possibly ruin a new battery by putting it in a damaged charging system.

Preparing for Jump-Start

Safety First

When it comes to jump-starting a vehicle, safety should always be the top priority. Before you begin, put on a professional reflective vest to ensure visibility, especially if you’re near a busy road. It’s crucial to keep a safe distance from moving traffic to avoid any accidents. Wearing gloves will protect your hands from any potential hazards during the process.

Necessary Equipment

To successfully jump-start a vehicle, you’ll need a few essential items. Firstly, gather a set of jumper cables that are in good condition and free from any damage or fraying. It’s important to ensure that both vehicles involved in the jump-start are turned off before proceeding. Lastly, have a flashlight ready in case you need extra light to see under the hood or in dimly lit areas.

Identifying Vehicles

Before attempting to jump-start a vehicle, it’s necessary to familiarize yourself with some key aspects of each vehicle involved. Start by locating the battery in both vehicles. In most cars, the battery can be found under the hood, but some models may have it in different locations such as the trunk or under the rear seat. Confirm that the batteries are compatible and have similar voltage ratings to ensure a successful jump-start. It’s also important to visually inspect both batteries for any leaks or damages that could compromise their functionality.

Positioning Vehicles

Park Correctly

To successfully jump-start a vehicle, it is crucial to position the vehicles correctly. Start by positioning the vehicles facing each other. This allows easy access to both battery terminals and ensures that the jumper cables can reach without any issues. Make sure that there is enough space between the two vehicles for you to work comfortably.

Once the vehicles are properly positioned, engage the parking brakes on both cars. This will prevent any accidental movement during the jump-start process and ensure stability. It is important to keep both cars stationary throughout the procedure to avoid any mishaps.

Next, shift both cars to park or neutral. This step is essential in preventing any accidental engagement of gears while connecting the jumper cables. By shifting into park or neutral, you minimize the risk of sudden movements that could potentially cause harm or damage.

Ensure Stability

Ensuring stability is crucial when jump-starting a vehicle. Here are some important steps to follow:

Firstly, turn off all electrical systems in both vehicles before attempting to jump-start them. This includes headlights, interior lights, radios, and any other electrical components that may drain power from the batteries. Turning off these systems helps protect them from potential power surges during the jump-start process.

Secondly, it is important to avoid smoking or open flames near the vehicles during a jump-start. Batteries contain flammable gases that can be hazardous if ignited. Therefore, it is essential to maintain a safe environment by refraining from smoking and keeping any open flames away from the battery area.

Lastly, always remember to keep pets and children away from the vicinity of the vehicles while performing a jump-start. The process involves handling electrical connections and can pose risks if not done carefully. To ensure everyone’s safety, it is best to keep bystanders at a safe distance until the jump-start is complete.

Locating Battery Terminals

Identify Terminals

To jump start a vehicle, the first step is to locate the battery terminals. These terminals are usually located under the hood of the car. Look for two metal posts with plastic covers on top. One post will be marked with a plus sign (+), indicating the positive terminal, while the other will have a minus sign (-) for the negative terminal.

If the battery terminals are dirty or corroded, it’s important to clean them before attempting to jump start the vehicle. Corrosion can prevent a good connection between the cables and the battery, making it difficult to transfer power. To clean the terminals, use a wire brush or a terminal cleaner to remove any built-up residue. This will ensure a strong and reliable connection.

When connecting the jumper cables, it’s helpful to use color-coded cables for clarity. Red cables are typically used for positive connections, while black cables are used for negative connections. This color-coding makes it easier to identify which cable goes where, reducing the risk of accidentally connecting them incorrectly.

Clearing Obstructions

Before connecting the jumper cables, it’s important to clear any obstructions around the battery terminals. Remove any covers or obstacles that may be blocking access to the terminals. This will make it easier to attach the cables securely.

In addition to clearing obstructions, it’s also crucial to ensure that there is enough reach in the jumper cables. Make sure that both vehicles are positioned close enough so that the cables can reach from one battery to another without stretching or straining. If necessary, reposition one of the vehicles for better accessibility.

While connecting the jumper cables, be mindful of preventing them from touching any engine parts. The metal clamps on the ends of the cables should only be attached to the battery terminals and not come into contact with any other components under the hood. Touching engine parts could lead to sparks or electrical shocks, posing a safety hazard.

Connecting Jumper Cables

Positive First

When it comes to jump-starting a vehicle, it is crucial to start with the positive terminal. Begin by connecting the red clamp of the jumper cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery. Make sure you have a good connection by ensuring that the clamp is securely attached to the terminal. This will provide a solid electrical connection between the two batteries.

It is important to be cautious while handling the cables. Avoid touching any metal surfaces or other parts of the vehicle while connecting the jumper cables. This helps prevent any accidental sparks or electrical shocks that could cause harm.

Negative Next

After you have successfully connected the positive terminal, it’s time to move on to the negative terminal. Attach the black clamp of the jumper cable to the negative terminal of the dead battery. Just like before, ensure that you have a secure connection by firmly attaching the clamp to the terminal.

When connecting the black clamp, make sure it is placed away from any moving parts or belts in order to avoid any accidents or damage. It is vital to keep it clear of any metal surfaces or other terminals as well, especially avoiding contact with the red clamp.

Remember, when jump-starting a vehicle, always connect and disconnect in this specific order: positive first, then negative. This ensures safety and prevents any potential electrical mishaps.

Initiating the Jump-Start

Start Booster Vehicle

To begin the jump-start process, start by starting the engine of the booster vehicle. Make sure that both vehicles are in park or neutral and that the parking brakes are engaged. This will ensure safety and stability during the procedure. Once the booster vehicle is running, let it idle for a few minutes. This allows the battery to charge up and build sufficient power to transfer to the dead vehicle.

While the booster vehicle is idling, it’s important to maintain steady RPMs. Revving the engine slightly can help generate more power and increase the charging rate of the dead battery. However, be cautious not to over-rev or accelerate too much, as it may cause damage to either vehicle.

Start Dead Vehicle

After allowing the booster vehicle to run for a few minutes, it’s time to attempt starting the dead vehicle. Turn on its ignition and listen for any signs of life. If you hear clicking sounds or notice dim lights on the dashboard, it indicates that there is some power reaching the electrical system, but not enough to start the engine.

If your first attempt at starting the dead vehicle is unsuccessful, don’t panic. Wait a few minutes before trying again. This waiting period allows for a continuous flow of electricity from the booster vehicle’s battery to reach and charge up the dead battery further.

When making another attempt to start the dead vehicle, try giving it some gas while turning on the ignition. This extra boost of fuel can help overcome any resistance in starting caused by a weak battery. Be careful not to flood the engine by excessively pressing on the gas pedal.

Remember that if you’re still unable to start your dead vehicle after multiple attempts, there may be other underlying issues beyond a weak battery. It might be best to seek professional assistance or have your vehicle towed to a trusted mechanic for further diagnosis and repair.

Detaching Jumper Cables

Reverse Order

When it comes to detaching jumper cables, it is important to follow the reverse order of how they were connected during the jump-start process. This ensures a safe and smooth disconnection without causing any damage to the vehicles or the electrical systems. The reverse order involves disconnecting the black clamp first, followed by removing the red clamp, and finally closing both hoods carefully.

To begin with, disconnect the black clamp from the negative terminal of the donor vehicle’s battery. This is usually marked with a “-” symbol or a black cover. By removing this clamp first, you prevent any accidental sparks or electrical surges that may occur when disconnecting the positive terminal.

Once the black clamp is safely disconnected, you can proceed to remove the red clamp from the positive terminal of the donor vehicle’s battery. This terminal is typically marked with a “+” symbol or a red cover. Removing this clamp last ensures that there are no electrical connections between the two vehicles while you’re working on them.

After successfully removing both clamps, it is crucial to close both hoods carefully. Take your time to ensure that everything is securely closed and nothing is left loose. Closing the hoods properly prevents any unexpected accidents while driving and protects your vehicle from external elements.

Cable Handling

Proper handling of jumper cables is essential for their longevity and effectiveness in jump-starting vehicles. Here are some important points to keep in mind when handling your jumper cables:

  1. Handle cables with care: Jumper cables are made of sturdy materials but can still be damaged if mishandled. Avoid bending or kinking them excessively as this can lead to internal wire breakage and reduce their overall performance.

  2. Avoid tangling or dragging: When using jumper cables, make sure they are untangled and free from any knots or twists. Tangled cables can hinder proper electrical conductivity and may even cause accidents if they get caught on moving parts of the vehicles.

  3. Store properly after use: After jump-starting a vehicle, it is crucial to store your jumper cables properly. Coil them neatly and secure them with cable ties or Velcro straps to prevent tangling and damage. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to maintain their quality and prolong their lifespan.

Post Jump-Start Actions

Running the Engine

After successfully jump-starting a vehicle, it’s important to keep both engines running for a while. This allows the dead battery to charge and regain its power. It’s recommended to leave the jumper cables connected and let the engine run for at least 10-15 minutes. During this time, you can turn off any electrical accessories like the air conditioner or radio to maximize the charging process.

While the battery is charging, it’s crucial to monitor for any issues that may arise. Keep an eye on the dashboard lights and gauges for any abnormal fluctuations or warning signs. If you notice anything unusual, such as smoke or strange smells, it’s best to turn off both vehicles immediately and seek professional assistance.

Checking Systems

Once you’ve allowed sufficient time for the battery to charge, it’s essential to perform some checks on your vehicle’s systems. Start by testing the headlights and indicators. Make sure they are functioning properly and providing adequate illumination. This step ensures that your vehicle is visible to other drivers on the road, especially during low-light conditions.

Next, check the dashboard lights to ensure they are all working as they should. These lights provide valuable information about various aspects of your vehicle’s performance, including engine temperature, oil pressure, and fuel levels. If any of these lights are not functioning or displaying unusual readings, it may indicate an underlying issue that needs attention.

While running the engine after a jump-start, it’s also important to listen for any unusual sounds. Pay attention to any strange noises coming from under the hood or exhaust system. Unusual sounds could indicate problems with the engine or other components of your vehicle. If you hear anything out of the ordinary, it’s advisable to have a mechanic inspect your vehicle as soon as possible.

Jumping Hybrid and Electric Cars

Jump-starting a hybrid or electric car requires some special considerations due to their unique features and electrical systems. It is important to consult the vehicle manual or seek professional help if you are unsure about the process. Exercising caution is crucial when dealing with hybrid vehicles.

Special Considerations

When it comes to jump-starting a hybrid or electric car, there are a few key points to keep in mind. First and foremost, it is highly recommended to consult the vehicle’s manual for specific instructions and guidelines. The manual will provide valuable information on how to safely jump-start your particular make and model.

If you are uncertain about any aspect of the jump-starting process, it is always better to err on the side of caution and seek professional help. Hybrid and electric cars have complex electrical systems that require expertise for proper handling. Professional assistance ensures that no damage occurs during the jump-starting procedure.

It is worth mentioning that hybrid vehicles pose certain risks during jump-starting due to their high-voltage battery systems. These batteries can deliver a significant amount of power, so it is essential to take extra precautions. Make sure to follow all safety protocols and wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves and goggles, when working with hybrid vehicles.

Manufacturer Guidelines

To ensure a successful jump-start without causing any harm to your hybrid or electric car, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Each vehicle may have specific instructions tailored to its unique electrical system. By adhering to these guidelines, you can minimize any potential risks and maximize the effectiveness of the jump-start.

In addition to general guidelines, some manufacturers may provide model-specific precautions that need to be taken into account. These precautions could include disconnecting certain components or following a particular sequence of steps. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with these instructions before attempting a jump-start.

The owner’s manual of your hybrid or electric car serves as a valuable resource for understanding the jump-starting process. It contains detailed information on how to safely and effectively jump-start your vehicle. Take the time to read through the manual thoroughly and familiarize yourself with the specific procedures recommended by the manufacturer.

Troubleshooting Failures

Common Issues

When attempting to jump start a vehicle, there are several common issues that may arise. One such concern is overheating. It is important to address this issue promptly as it can lead to further damage to the vehicle’s engine. If you notice that your vehicle is overheating while attempting to jump start it, it is best to let it cool down before proceeding.

Another common issue that may occur is when the vehicle still won’t start even after attempting to jump start it. In such cases, there could be underlying problems that need to be addressed. One possible cause could be a faulty starter motor or ignition switch. It is advisable to consult a mechanic for further diagnosis and repair.

It is crucial to check for any electrical problems when troubleshooting a failed jump start. This includes inspecting the battery terminals for corrosion or loose connections. Corrosion can hinder the flow of electricity and prevent the vehicle from starting. By cleaning the terminals and ensuring they are securely connected, you can eliminate this potential issue.

When to Seek Help

While attempting to jump start a vehicle, there may come a point where seeking professional help becomes necessary. If you have attempted multiple jump starts without success, it may be time to contact roadside assistance. They have the expertise and equipment needed to safely resolve any issues with your vehicle’s battery or electrical system.

In some cases, even after successfully jump starting your vehicle, recurring issues may persist. This could indicate a larger problem with the battery itself. If you find that your battery consistently fails or loses charge quickly, it may be time to consider replacing it. Consulting with a mechanic can help determine if a battery replacement is necessary.

Remember, troubleshooting failures during a jump start requires careful attention and knowledge of the vehicle’s electrical system. It is always best to seek professional help if you are unsure about how to proceed or if problems persist despite your efforts.

Final Remarks

In conclusion, jump-starting a vehicle can be a simple and effective solution when you find yourself with a dead battery. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can safely and efficiently get your vehicle back on the road. Remember to take precautions, such as wearing safety gloves and ensuring the vehicles are properly positioned, to avoid any accidents or damage.

Now that you have learned how to jump-start a vehicle, you can confidently handle this situation whenever it arises. It’s always a good idea to keep jumper cables in your car’s emergency kit, along with other essential tools. Being prepared will save you time and money by avoiding the need for professional assistance or towing services.

ext time you find yourself with a dead battery, don’t panic. Just grab those jumper cables and follow the steps we’ve discussed. You’ll be back on the road in no time! Stay safe and happy driving!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prepare for a jump-start?

To prepare for a jump-start, gather jumper cables and locate a vehicle with a fully charged battery. Ensure both vehicles are turned off and in park or neutral. Put on safety gloves and goggles before proceeding.

How do I position the vehicles for a jump-start with a volt battery, alternator, and mechanic diagnose?

Position the vehicles facing each other, close enough for the jumper cables to reach both batteries. Make sure there is enough space between the vehicles to open their hoods fully.

Where can I find the battery terminals?

The battery terminals are usually located under the hood of the vehicle. Look for two metal posts covered with plastic caps labeled “+” (positive) and “-” (negative). They may be near the front of the engine compartment.

How do I connect the jumper cables?

First, connect one end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery. Then, attach the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the working battery. Next, connect one end of the black cable to the negative terminal of the working battery, and finally, attach the other end of the black cable to an unpainted metal surface on your car’s engine block.

What should I do after initiating a jump-start?

After initiating a jump-start, let both vehicles run for a few minutes while connected. Once you start your vehicle successfully, carefully disconnect the jumper cables in reverse order: black from your car’s engine block, black from working battery’s negative terminal, red from working battery’s positive terminal, and finally red from your car’s positive terminal.

This Article was Written by Jammin J Auto Visit us at Jammin' j or give us a call at (314) 423-3876