How to Jumpstart Your Car | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

How to Jumpstart Your Car

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When we’re least expecting it seems to be when things happen to our cars. You head out to your car on time in the morning, but realize you have a flat and now you’ll be late to work. Or, you’re about to leave to meet friends out and realize your car’s battery is dead. Learning how to jumpstart your car in the event of a dead battery can help you get back on the road quickly.

Anyone can jumpstart a car if they know how. Keep reading to learn how you can do it on your own and why dead batteries happen.

What is the Battery?

A car’s battery is what brings it to life. It’s a rechargeable battery that gives off electricity to the car. It’s main job is to use its power to help start the engine.

Causes of a Dead Battery

There are several common reasons for a car battery to die more than once. Lifewire breaks down the common causes of battery death into three categories:

  • Battery problems
  • Electrical problems
  • User error

More in depth, they detail that these problems are caused by things like: loose battery connections, corrosion, persistent electrical drains, issues with charging, needing more power than the alternator is able to give, and sometimes even weather is to blame.

In some cases, these issues can cause a battery to go dead on its own. However, sometimes these problems happen in addition to a battery that’s already nearing the end of its lifespan.

Signs of Low Battery

Much like how when we’re sick our bodies give us clues that something isn’t right, our cars do the same. Lifewire suggests looking for these signs of a dead battery:

  • No interior lights come on when opening the door or no chime when starting the car. If the battery is completely dead, no light or sounds will happen at all, but if there is some life let it can be dim
  • Check brightness of headlights as dim headlights can signal dead battery
  • Try to turn radio on, no sound could mean no battery life
  • Listen to how your car starts, if you hear the motor but not the engine turning on the battery could be dead
  • If your car starts at night but not in morning then it could be that a parasitic drain is killing the battery overnight

How to Jump Start Your Car

If you’re a driver, it’s important to know how to jumpstart your car in case of emergency. It’s a fairly simple process, but can be daunting if you’ve never learned how to do it before.

First, you’ll need to make sure you have jumper cables. It’s a good idea to leave jumper cables in your car at all times, so they’re always with you in case of emergency. Then, you’ll need to be sure to have a source of power. You can find power using a portable jump start battery or by using another vehicle if able.

It’s most common to use another vehicle to jump start your car. If you’re using another vehicle, follow these steps: from I Drive Safely:

  1. Check the battery on the other car
    It will need to have enough voltage and is a matching voltage system to the car you’re trying to jump.
  2. Prep the cars
    Make sure both cars are in park with the ignitions off and the parking brake in place. Open the hood.
  3. Attach cables
    Using the alligator clips on the jumper cables, attach them to the batteries like this:
    Red to Dead: connect red (positive) clip to the positive terminal on dead car
    Red to Donor: connect red (positive) clip to the positive terminal on battery of the donor car
    Black to Donor: connect black clip to negative terminal on donor car
    Black to Metal:
    connect black (negative) clip to an unpainted metal part of the dead car that is not directly next to battery. Tip: use one of the metal struts that hold the hood open for the negative clip
  4. Start the donor car
    Start the engine on the donor car to allow the battery to supply power to the dead battery
  5. Idle donor car
    Let the donor car run for a few minutes to supply the power
  6. Test interior lights of dead car
    See if they turn on. If yes, then start the dead car

Once the dead car is brought back to life and can start again, unclip the clips in reverse order from how you connected them: black clip from unpainted metal, black clip from negative terminal, red clip from donor car, red clip from dead car. Allow the car that was jumped to. Run for 10 minutes.

Jumpstarting Risks 

To prevent injury to yourself or further damage to the vehicle, be sure to read the owner’s manual so you know if your car can even be jumpstarted or not. Then, remember to not jump any visibly damaged batteries, jump frozen or dry batteries, and to never touch clips together.

Count on Scott’s Auto

If after trying to jump start your car it still won’t go, give Scott’s Fort Collins Auto or Scott’s Loveland Auto a call. It could be further problems with the alternator or other parts of the car that are hard to fix at home. With our two convenient locations, we can get you back on the road in a quick and efficient manner. You’re in the best hands with Scott’s! Request an appointment today.

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