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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Important Lifeskill: Know how to Jump Start a car

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had an exciting weekend. My husband and I drove up to Peggy’s cove where our car battery died. In fact, it seems like everyone we spoke to had survived a similar ordeal leading me to think that it would be useful for everyone to know how to jump start a car.

  1. Don’t follow my example: Be prepared
    You should carry the following items in your car.
    i. Jumper cables
    ii. Work gloves
    iii. Wire brush
  2. Check to see if your car is not starting because of the battery.
    a. Look for electrical problems. If your headlights are dim or your dash lights are flickering, you likely have a dying battery. Turn on your lights and turn on the ignition. If they dim, you know it’s your battery.
    b. If your electricity is still working but you are getting the machine gun noise, it is likely that your battery lines are corroded and may need a cleaning.
  3. Find a working car and park it close by. Do not allow the two cars to touch. Turn off all electrical components in both cars. This includes lights, radios, fans, etc…
  4. Put on your work gloves.
  5. Find your batteries
    a. Find the battery in your dead car and the battery in the working car. Batteries are usually under the hood but can be found in the trunk also. It looks like a box with black and red nubs. There will be wires attached to the nubs. If you are having difficulty locating the battery, look it up in your car manual.
    b. Locate the positive and negative terminals. The positive terminals will have + sign and will be a red nub with a red cable attached to it. The negative will have a minus sign and be a black nub with a black cable.
    c. Inspect both batteries for cracks, leaks or other damage. If there is damage DON’T JUMP THE CAR.
    d. Use the stiff wire brush to remove any corrosion from the terminals and the cables. Make sure the cables are connected to their nubs when you are done.
  6. Untangle your jumper cables. There will be red clamps and black clamps. These should never touch each other or you may be shocked.
    a. Connect a red clamp to the red terminal on the dead battery.
    b. Connect a red clamp to the red terminal on the live battery.
    c. Connect a black clamp to the black terminal of the live battery.
    d. Connect the last black clamp to grounding metal on the dead car. This is usually shinny metal that is attached to the engine. A nut or bolt will work. This will cause a spark but that is normal.
    e. Make sure the cables are not dangling anywhere that they could get caught by moving parts.
  7. Start the live car, let it idle for a few minutes. You can rev the car a little for 30-60 seconds to help it charge.
  8. Try starting the dead car. If it doesn’t start, turn both cars off and slightly twist all four clamps to ensure a good connection. Turn on the live car and charge for 5 minutes. If this does not work after a few tries, it’s time to try replacing the battery.
  9. If your car starts, take off the cables in the reverse order. Remember, don’t let any cables dangle in the compartment and don’t let the clamps touch each other until completely disconnected.
    a. Disconnect the black clamp from the grounding metal on the dead car.
    b. Disconnect the black clamp from the black terminal of the live battery.
    c. Disconnect the red clamp from the red terminal on the live battery.
    d. Disconnect the red clamp from the red terminal on the dead battery.
Now you know how to safely jump start a car. You should memorize this process or have it printed and on hand in your car. These directions are a lot more thorough than the ones in my car manual but always consult your manual in case your car has special directions. There are lots of great websites with information on this subject that you can print to have on hand. You never know when your battery is going to die so always be prepared :)