We’ve all experienced a dead battery, haven’t we? We turn the key and either hear nothing or series of repetitive clicks. The engine does not turn over. That is the only time you should jump-start your car.

If you’re driving down the road and your car dies, the battery is not the cause of your car dying. Do not jump-start your car in this situation. It will not help.

Jump starting a car may seem like a simple procedure but it can be dangerous and can cause thousands of dollars in damage if done incorrectly. The danger comes from the “venting” of hydrogen gas while a battery is charging. It is not uncommon to have a battery explode while a vehicle is being jump started. Injury and blindness can result. Below are the proper procedures for jump starting a vehicle. Please read and follow these procedures carefully to avoid damage or injury.

What we mean by “venting” is that it’s not uncommon for battery fumes from the acid inside to slowly leak from the top of the battery. Since hydrogen is explosive, you could potentially blow up the battery if you don’t control that spark. And, if your face happens to be in the vicinity at the time, bad things could happen. If you have safety glasses, it would be a good idea to wear them when you jump-start a car.

Here’s how to properly jump-start a car:

Note: The car with the “good” battery should not be running at this point.

  1. Connect the red jumper cable clamp to the positive terminal (+) of the “good” battery.
  2. Connect the other end of that red cable to the positive terminal of the “bad” battery.
  3. Connect the black cable clamp to the negative (-) terminal of the “good” battery.
  4. Connect the final cable clamp to a good solid metal surface under the hood of the car being “jumped,” such as a bracket or other metal object. If necessary, you can attach to the negative terminal of the battery, it’s just not as safe.
  5. Now have the driver of the “good” car start the engine and run it at just above idle for a couple of minutes.
  6. Then, attempt to start the car with the dead battery. If done correctly and the problem is just a dead battery, the car should start right up.
  7. Carefully remove the cables in reverse order.

Jump-starting a car essentially uses electricity from the good battery to power the bad one, thus making an electrical circuit. Making the last connection to the engine instead of the battery will minimize the possibility of an uncontrolled spark, thus keeping you and your battery safe.

Jump Start Illustration

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Posted in Car Advice