Car won’t start? How to jump start your vehicle

So you leave your house to go to work for an important meeting first thing in the morning. Or you’re excited and nervous on a Friday night as you head out to pick up your date for your first outing together. And your car won’t start! Nooooo! The absolute WORST timing! (Not that a dead car battery ever has good timing…) But all is not lost! Chances are, you can still make it on time if you know how to jump start your car!

Every driver should keep jumper cables in their car and know how to use them. So with this in mind, we are going to explain to you just how it’s done!

How can you tell if your car battery is dead?

So for starters, how can you tell if you have a dead battery or if it’s not some other problem?

  • If you turn the key in the ignition and you hear the car coughing and turning over, then a dead battery is NOT the problem.
  • If you turn the key in the ignition and you hear absolutely nothing, or you hear only a clicking sound, then there’s a good chance you have a dead battery on your hands.
  • Check whether your lights, stereo and other electronics are working, this can also be a good indicator of a low or dead battery.

How To Jump Start A Vehicle With Jumper Cables

You could be at work or on your date’s doorstep in no time, as long as you have jumper cables and can flag down the help of a Good Samaritan.

Before you begin, pop the hood and check the condition of your battery. If it’s damaged, leaking or has corrosion, you may have a bigger problem on your hands and may need to call in the professionals to take a look.

If everything looks ok, remove any loose clothing to avoid it getting caught on any moving parts. Avoid smoking. Make sure the headlights and other electronics in the car are turned off and follow these steps:

Jumpstart Your Car with Cables

Flickr photo credit: teachernz

  1. Park the cars close enough together to allow the jumper cables to reach the battery in both cars.
  2. Make sure both vehicles are turned off and the keys are removed from the ignition.
  3. Jumper Cables - Jump Start Your CarPop the hood of both vehicles and locate the batteries – in most cases it will be near the front and off to one side of the engine.
  4. Identify the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals on both batteries.
  5. You should have two cables – one black and one red. Connect one end of the RED cable to the POSITIVE (+) terminal on the working car’s battery. Connect the other of the RED end to the POSITIVE (+) terminal of the dead battery.
  6. Repeat for the black cable – Connect one end of the BLACK cable to the NEGATIVE (-) terminal on the working battery and connect the other end of the BLACK cable to the NEGATIVE (-) terminal of the dead battery.
  7. Make sure the cables are away from any moving engine parts so they won’t get caught once the vehicles are running.
  8. Start the working car. Let it idle for a minute or two to allow it to charge the dead battery a little bit.
  9. After about 60-90 seconds, start the car with the dead battery.
  10. Remove the cables in reverse order – Black cable first then the red cable.
  11. It helps to keep the jumped car running for at least 30 minutes to allow the battery to recharge a bit via the alternator. (Otherwise you may be in the same predicament the next time you try to start the car.)NOTE: Relying on the alternator to recharge the battery will prematurely wear out the alternator and the battery will never become fully recharged. Ideally, the battery needs to be trickle charged overnight. If you do not have a car battery charger at home, drive your jumped car over to Searle’s where we will put it on the charger for the day or night. We have courtesy cars available while your battery recharged is being recharged.


How To Jump Start A Vehicle Without Cables

If you don’t have jumper cables and your car has a standard transmission and there is a clear downhill street nearby, you can also jump start your vehicle without cables.

Here’s how:

  1. Find a stretch of clear downhill road
  2. Push in the clutch completely
  3. Put the car in first gear
  4. Turn the ignition to ON
  5. With the clutch still fully depressed, take your foot off the brake and allow the car to start rolling down the hill.
  6. Coast downhill until you reach a minimum speed of about 10 km/h.
  7. Release the clutch quickly – you should feel the car’s engine turn over and start. If it doesn’t start on the first clutch release, push it back in and release again until it starts.


Note: If you don’t have a hill nearby but you have your buddies, get them to help by giving the car a push. This method may take some practice.

Are you experiencing a repeated dead battery in your vehicle? Bring it on down to us at Searles Auto <LINK:  >, voted the Most Trusted Auto Repair in Victoria 5 years in a row, and we will have a look at getting your car all fixed up so you can avoid being late for that meeting or that date!

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