Dead battery? Here's what to do and what NOT to do!

When you have a weak or dead battery, jump starting your car off another person’s electrical system is quick and easy. Remember though, the order in which you perform the steps to avoid causing sparks or damage to your car’s ECU can be challenging. Let's walk through the prep needed and the steps to get you back on the road safely.

To successfully jump start your car, you’ll need a set of jumper cables and a functioning 2nd car.

Jumper cables are an essential tool that everyone should have in their vehicle. Even if you drive a brand new car, you may forget to turn your lights off, which can drain your battery and leave you stranded. So, be prepared and always carry a quality set of jumper cables with you.

It’s important to buy quality jumper cables to avoid damage to your car; that’s why we mentioned this once already. Jumper cables are available in different lengths, colors, and price ranges. The single most important factor is the cable “gauge”. Look on the packaging to see what the cable’s gauge rating is. The lower the number, the more power that can be transferred through the cable (which means the battery will charge more quickly and efficiently).  Next, check the clamps (claws) on the jumper cable set. They should be strong and able to clasp a battery post tightly. The handles should be rubber insulated to minimize the chance of you being shocked. Also, because you never know where you’ll be using the cables, check the length. A minimum length should be 12’, but if you can afford it, buy the longest length available.

Now that you’ve got a good set of cables, let’s learn how to use them. It seems pretty straightforward, put the red cables on the positive posts of each battery, and the black on the negative posts of each battery, right? The answer is….yes AND no.

There is a specific order that you need to attach the cables. By following the correct order, you can avoid damaging the computer in your car’s engine, and you’ll be far less likely to create a spark or arc that could start a fire.


Step 1:

Open the hood of the good car, which may not be a car that you're familiar with, and locate which side of the car the battery is on. Try to arrange the cars in such a way that you're not working in between the two cars if they should accidentally roll or engage a gear. But the bumpers should not be touching.


Step 2:

Always make sure each car is in park and all the accessories, like radios and blower fans, are turned off, the e-brake is engaged, and pull the keys out of the car to avoid starting it while you're under the hood.


Step 3:

Once both cars are lined up and turned off, begin attaching the cables to the car with the dead battery first. Ensure that the cables are well separated and that none of the end clamps are touching.


Step 4:

Attach the red, or positive, cable to the dead battery’s positive post (usually red or marked with a plus sign). Next, attach the negative cable to the negative post on the dead battery – or, for a safer alternative, attach the black cable to a BARE piece of metal on the car (must be bare metal, not painted). Look for any piece of unrusted metal attached to the engine block or alternator, but avoid any metal that may carry fuel or is near belts or fans that will rotate once the car is turned on.


Step 5:

Next, attach the positive cable to the positive post on the battery in the good car. Finally, attach the black cable to the negative post on the good battery.  Once both batteries are connected as shown in the graphic below, start the car with the good battery. Its alternator is now charging both the dead and good batteries. Let it run for 5 minutes or more before moving on to step 6.


Step 6:

Next, get in the car with the dead battery and try starting the engine. If it doesn't turn over immediately, let it sit for another five minutes on charge.


Step 7:

Once the dead battery starts, disconnect the cables in the reverse order in which they were installed. Wrap up the cables and put them back in your car. You should immediately drive to an auto parts store and have them test your battery to see if it needs replaced.  

The employees at SVG Motors want you to be safe on the road. If you question your battery’s integrity, feel free to bring it in to our service department. Our friendly techs will inspect and test your battery and make a recommendation for you.

Categories: Service


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