I was inspired to write this tip of the week after our -15 deg F temperatures in Philadelphia this week had my phone, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram blowing up with people saying they couldn’t start their car. A relevant blog to this is Defibrillate Your Battery. Understanding how the cold affects your battery is important!
I had one friend wait 4 hours on Triple A because her car wouldn’t start! She tired to jump it but didn’t know how. Once Triple A came, it took minutes to start her car and have her back on the road. Your favorite female mechanic in heels is here to teach you how to jump start a car so you won’t be waiting hours for help!
Jump starting a car is one of those essential things every car owner should know along with putting air in their tires, checking their oil, adding windshield washer fluid, etc (I think I have my next blog, haha). If you don’t know how to jump start a car, no worries. I didn’t know how to before I became a mechanic and I’ve seen people think they know how to and do it wrong (including men).
Below is a diagram which shows how to jump start a car, but first let’s go over a few basics about batteries you should know when jump starting.
Most cars have batteries under the hood (some cars have batteries under the seat). A lot of newer cars have a cover over the battery to protect it, so that will need to be removed. There are two metal terminals or posts on the battery. If the battery is not under the hood, there will be two posts under the hood that are electrically wired to the battery.
Just like your remote control AA batteries which have a negative side and a positive side, the two posts on the battery are negative and positive. They don’t say negative or positive. The have a – symbol and a + symbol on the battery or on a cap that is covering the posts to denote which post is which.
Sometimes, car manufacturers color code the cable wires to the battery posts to help you differentiate the positive from the negative even more. Red cable is positive, black cable is negative. This was always hard for me to remember since most people think red as negative when it comes to school and tests. Our teachers in grade school used red pen to mark answers wrong.
The jumper cables which are color coded tell you exactly which end to connect to the post, so red to red and black to black. What’s most important is the sequence.
- First, make sure both cars are off.
- Follow steps 1-4 when connecting the cables to the batteries. If you cannot find a metal part of the frame or don’t know what an engine block is, connect the cable for step 4 to the negative post of the stalled battery.
- Turn on the car with the good battery and let it run for at least a minute. You can lightly rev the engine. This process is charging the dead battery.
- Turn on the car with the stalled battery.
- Disconnect the cables to the batteries the opposite way you connected. So, follow backwards starting with step 4 and ending on step 1.
Other important things to note:
The cars should not be touching. Make sure all the electrical accessories on both cars are off, no heat, A/C, windshield wipes, radio, lights, etc. The posts sometimes get corrosion on them, make sure any corrosion is cleaned off on both batteries before you connect the jumper cables to ensure a good connection. If the car doesn’t jump, you may not have a good connection with the cables. Try reconnecting them following the sequence again and let the car with the good battery run longer than a minute. If it still doesn’t start, unfortunately you may need a tow.Related Links Ask the Expert: Girls Auto Clinic X Hot 107.9 Philly Morning Show Warming Up My Car On These Cold Winter Mornings? Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That! 5 Car Tips for Cold and Snowy Weather