Have you ever found yourself with a dead car battery? If so, you’ve probably had to ask your friend or family member with jumper cables to come give you a jump start. You’ll be back on your way in no time—but did you know that the problem could come back again soon? To understand why, it’s important to learn how batteries function and how they recharge.
So what is a jump start? A jump start is when someone gives your car battery enough power to get started by connecting his or her car’s battery through jumper cables. This helps synchronize the power between the two cars by turning off both cars and connecting the other car’s positive terminal (usually red) with yours, then the negative terminal (usually black) on both sides. Once both cars are running, keep them connected for about five more minutes before disconnecting everything.
A jump start charges the battery enough to get your car going.
Unfortunately, a jump start is just a temporary solution. There are many things that could be wrong with your car or battery, and you shouldn’t continue driving without examining the issue further. You might have a bad alternator or worse yet, some type of a parasitic drain leaving your battery drained even when you’re not using it up. The best thing to do is make sure you drive around long enough to charge the battery for at least 20 minutes before turning the car off again
However in most cases your battery will be fine if you just leave it on for about an hour. This allows the alternator to charge up the battery sufficiently after which you can turn off your car and start it up again normally with no problems.
How does a jump start work?
You can think of a jump-start as a temporary solution to resuscitate your battery. A jump-start involves connecting the dead battery with another live battery. By doing this, you’ll temporarily charge the dead battery and give it enough power for your car to start.
However, simply turning off your car and restarting it again won’t do the trick because an alternator (the device that provides energy for the vehicle’s systems) is needed in order for the engine to run. The alternator also recharges (or maintains) the voltage of your car’s battery. So, if you don’t have enough cranking amps available in your battery, then you won’t be able to start up your car until you recharge your battery via jump-starting or any other method.
Problems with starting your car can be caused by other things besides your battery.
Here are some of the other problems that could be causing you to have trouble starting your car:
- A bad battery can cause a lot of issues. If your battery is at least 4 years old, it’s time to get it tested. Be sure to check the fluid levels in your battery and make sure they are not low. Loose or corroded cables can also cause this issue. Make sure that all of your cables are tightly connected and free of corrosion.
- A problem with the ignition switch could be keeping you from starting your car. It’s easy to tell if there is an issue with the ignition switch—just turn on all of the accessories in your car like your radio, headlights, and heater and then try starting the engine with everything turned on. If it starts when nothing is turned on but not when everything is turned on, then you have a problem with the ignition switch.
Before calling for a jump start, check these things.
- Before you call for a jump start, check to make sure you didn’t leave any lights on. Is this a sunny day? If so, it’s OK to leave your car running.
- Remember that cable fell on the concrete when you got in the car, damaging the battery and terminals? Fix it now!
- Be careful not to touch your battery cables as you take them off because they are wrapped around each other.
- Be careful not to touch the fuses while doing this because they can be very hot and could burn something else if they’re touching something else at the same time.
- Make sure your hood latch is attached properly so that it won’t pop open during the jump start process.
If you have an older vehicle, you should probably replace the battery.
If you’re not sure how old your battery is, ask someone who knows. If you don’t know anyone who knows, take it to a mechanic. If you ARE a mechanic and don’t know, just replace it anyway—it’s probably old.
When you get a jump start, it’s important to drive it around for a bit to charge the battery.
`Drive the car around for at least 15 minutes afterward
`If you can’t drive for 15 minutes, drive for at least 5 minutes, then turn off the engine and let the car sit for 5 minutes
`If you can’t drive at all, try to rev the engine for at least 5 minutes.
`In order to jump-start a vehicle, it’s always a good idea to have an extra battery close by. They’re relatively cheap (around $20) and lightweight (compared to a whole car), so you can easily keep one in your garage or in your trunk (or anywhere else) as long as it’s connected. As long as you have a functioning battery nearby, you’ll be able to jump start another battery.
Don’t forget that jumper cables are supposed to be removed in a certain order.
If you don’t remove the jumper cables in the correct order, you can end up with a ground fault. A ground fault is what happens when there’s an electrical current in the car’s frame or body because of an improper connection. When this happens, it’ll create a loop that allows electricity to continue flowing through the car even after you’ve removed the jumper cables—and if you’re touching your car while that’s happening, you’ll get shocked.
To keep this from happening, remember to remove the black clamp from its negative terminal first. After that, disconnect it from the other vehicle’s negative terminal (the one with a negative symbol on it). Then, remove the red clamp from its positive terminal before finally removing it from the other vehicle’s positive terminal (with a positive symbol).
It’s best for you and your car to have an extra set of cables in your trunk at all times.
Carrying an extra set of cables in your vehicle is a smart move. With this kind of foresight, you’ll never be stranded on the side of the road when your car’s battery dies. And if you do find yourself in this situation, you can offer to lend your cables to another driver who needs them.
Plus, keeping a set of jumper cables with you at all times will ensure that, even if you or someone else gave your battery enough of a charge to start after the initial jump start, it won’t die again later on.
Jump starting is not always the best way to get a dead battery going again.
Jump starting is not always the best way to get a dead battery going again. For one thing, it’s not the safest practice. Car batteries store a lot of electricity and are very powerful, so if you accidentally touch the two terminals together things can get quite explosive.
Additionally, if you’ve got an older car with an old battery then jump starting may not be enough to get it working again because there just isn’t enough power left in that battery to make it work properly anymore. You’d probably just end up having to buy a new battery anyway!
Also, if your car has some other problem with its electrical system (like its alternator) then jump starting won’t solve that either. It’s only useful for jumpstarting a car when its battery is dead (or close to being dead).