How to Jump-Start a Car

Starting your car is a rather easy process, unless the battery has completely failed. Then, you’re not going anywhere. Luckily, jump-starting your vehicle is also easy. All you need are the right tools and know-how to get it done right. Here’s what you need to know.

Common Reasons for a Battery Dying

We’ve all left the lights on in a car or truck only to find a dead battery a few hours later. Thankfully, that doesn’t necessarily mean the battery has failed or reached the end of its life. It may be possible to jump-start it and enjoy years of uninterrupted use. To get the most out of your battery, try to avoid a few battery-killing scenarios.

  • Deep Discharging: leaving the lights on or the stereo going while the car is turned off. This can result in a dead battery or a clicking noise when you try to start the vehicle.

  • Hot Summer Days: Hot, summer months can deteriorate your battery over time. You simply notice it in the winter when it takes more power to crank over a cold engine — power the deteriorating battery doesn’t have. If you can, store your vehicle in a garage or under a shelter on the hottest days.

  • Corroded Connections or Cables: Check your battery cables often for corrosion. If you find any, clean it off to ensure a tight connection.

Les Schwab Tip: The professionals at your local Les Schwab can check your battery for free – even if it isn’t dead. We may be able to recharge it at no cost if it’s still in good condition.

Must-haves for Jumping a Car Battery

  • Jumper Cables or a Jump Starter: Jumper cables come in various lengths. The ends of the cables include red and black alligator clips made of copper. To jump-start a car, these clamps attach to the leads of the dead battery and to the vehicle that will help jump-start the dead car or truck. See below for proper procedures. Jump starters come with a smartphone-sized 12-volt battery and a set of red and black cables and clips. These attach to the battery of the dead vehicle and quickly jump-start it with a burst of power.

  • Gloves: A simple pair of rubber gloves can help protect your hands from corrosive battery acid and other harsh chemicals. Keep a pair with your jumper cables or jump starter.

  • A Vehicle With a Working Battery (If Using Jumper Cables): To successfully jump-start a vehicle, you’ll need another car or truck with a working battery.

Jumpstarting Your Car: What Are the Steps?

When you have the right tools and know-how from the pros at Les Schwab, jumpstarting your car is easy.

  1. Line up the front of your vehicles and open both hoods.

  2. Take the key out of the ignition in the car with the dead battery. The other vehicle should not be running.

  3. Untangle your jumper cables.

  4. On the dead battery, hook up the red or positive clamp to the positive post on the battery.

  5. Hook the red clamp on the other end of the jumper cables to the positive post on the good battery.

    Important: Be sure the black clamps do not touch the red clamps.

  6. Attach the negative or black cable to the good battery. Then connect the other end of the black cable to the negative post on the dead battery. You can also attach it to a piece of solid metal in the engine compartment.

    Important: Keep your jumper cables away from engine fans or hot engine components.

  7. Start the vehicle with the working battery and let it run for a few minutes.

  8. Now, try starting the vehicle with the dead battery. If it starts, let it run for a few minutes. If not, allow the car to charge for another minute before another attempt.

  9. To remove the cables, start with the black cable on the previously dead car, then remove the black clamp off the starter car. Finally remove the red from the newly jumped vehicle, and then from the other car or truck.

Les Schwab Tip: Once a car is successfully jumped, you’ll want to go for a short, 30-minute drive. This will give the alternator a chance to recharge your battery, if the alternator and/or battery are in proper working order. If it does not hold a charge, bring it in to Les Schwab for a quick check.

How to Prevent Your Battery From Draining?

The life of your car battery depends on where you live, how much you drive, and how often you start your vehicle. But you can also help prevent it from draining with a few tips.

  • Unplug Extra Accessories: Known as parasitic draw, your car battery can drain over time from stereo components (such as subwoofers), and phone chargers that continue to work when the car is turned off. Also, be on the lookout for glove-box lights, trunk lights, and interior lights that remain illuminated when the vehicle is off.

  • Take a 15 Minute Drive: At least once per week, take your car for a short drive. As long as your alternator is working correctly, this will continually recharge your battery.

  • Don’t Leave Your Headlights On: Turn the switch to the “off” position, even if your lights go off automatically.

  • Tighten and Clean Battery Connections: If your battery terminals are loose or corroded, it can cause your car to stall. It could also damage the battery.

Les Schwab Gets a Charge Out of Checking Your Battery

With today’s modern vehicles, it can be difficult to tell if your car battery is going dead until it’s too late. Come by your local Les Schwab Tires for a free inspection of your car battery. We carry new batteries for most vehicles, and offer recommendations to keep you from getting stranded.

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