Knowing when to jump start a car can save you time and frustration. Not every no-start condition can be resolved by a jump start. Jump starts only help when the actual problem is a discharged (dead) battery is the cause of the no-start condition.
If you hear a series of rapid “clicks” when attempting to start the engine, it is almost always a dead battery. It can also be a loose or corroded battery connection so check for that first. If you can twist the cable connection at the battery, it is not tight enough and can cause that condition. Tighten the cable first and if that does not help, then jump start using the procedures outlined in a post titled “How Do I Jump Start My Car?”. Here’s the link.
A jump start may sound simple enough, but failing to follow those exact procedures can cause injury and/or severe damage to the vehicle.
If the starting attempt results in no noise at all, a dead battery could be the culprit or it could be an electrical problem. An easy way to tell the difference is to turn on the headlights and observe them. If the headlights are bright and do not dim when trying to start the car, a jump start will not help. If the lights dim or go out, a jump start will likely get you going. Remember to turn the headlights off after trying this or you will create an additional problem!
If you are driving down the road and the car dies and does not have electrical power, a jump start will not help. It may get the engine started, but it will die again very soon. Such an issue is caused by a failure in the charging system, not the battery.
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