It’s frustrating when you attempt to turn your car’s ignition, only to discover the battery is dead. Maybe you forgot to turn off the headlights, or perhaps the battery isn’t holding a charge. Regardless, you should first try jumping your car’s battery to start it.
Steps to Jump-Starting Your Car Battery
- Park the “working” car a hood-to-hood a few feet away from your car.
- Ensure both cars are parked, the engines turned off, and the parking brakes engaged.
- Open the hood of both cars.
- Connect a positive clamp (usually red) of the jumper cables to the positive battery terminal of the dead car.
- Connect the opposite end of the positive jumper cables to the working car’s positive battery terminal.
- Connect a negative clamp of the jumper cables to the working car’s negative battery terminal.
- Connect the opposite end of the negative jumper cables to an exposed metal part of the car, essentially grounding it.
- Crank the working car, wait a few minutes, and attempt to start the dead car. If it doesn’t start, wait a few more minutes and try again.
- Once the dead car starts, remove the jumper cables and close the hood.
Assuming your battery died from the lights, radio or some other electrical system being left on, the battery is probably still good. However, if it died for no apparent reason, the battery or alternator could be bad, in which case you should have these components tested by a professional mechanic.
A typical car battery lasts for about six years, after which it may fail to hold a charge. Jumping the battery may get you back on the road, but it’s only a temporary fix. You’ll still need to replace the battery and/or the alternator.
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