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Jump start your car: A step by step guide

Dealing with a dead car battery is never ideal. We have all been there – you are leaving the supermarket and you see someone who clearly can’t get their car turned on. They  jump starting their dead car battery with the help of a good Samaritan. What happens when that is you in their position, or you are the closest person and are being called on to jump start someone else’s car? As a driver, it is important that you know how to jump start a vehicle for your own emergency, or to step in as that good Samaritan to be able to help out someone else. Without the proper education and knowledge, jump-starting a battery can go very wrong – so you need to learn how to properly and safely jump start a vehicle. Look no further:  we are here to help. We have outlined a step-by-step guide below so that you will have no troubles jump starting your car safely in times of need.

Marshall Batteries provides a jump starting service if you require it, to get you back on the road.

Before Jump Starting 

Always have jumper cables stored and readily available in your car – you never know when you are going to need them. When buying them, be sure they come with a surge protector built in and that they are suitable for starting your type of car.

Locate where the batteries are in each car and identify the positive and negative terminals. The positive terminal will have a (+) symbol which is for your red positive lead and the negative terminal will have a (-) symbol, which is for your black negative lead. If you have any difficulty, refer to your car owner’s manual guide for assistance on your battery’s location.

Double-check to make sure your battery is not damaged in any way – this includes corrosion or any fluid leaking. If it is, do not try to jump start your battery yourself.

First and foremost - make sure your battery is actually the problem. Try starting your car – if it is very slow to turn on, or does not at all, you guessed it – your battery is probably dead. However if you hear the engine quickly cranking, a dead battery is not the issue and this jump-start guide won’t be what you need to fix your issue. Check your headlights. If they are bright, a dead battery is not the issue. However if they are dim, that is a good indication that your car battery is dead or on the way out.

What You Will Need:

  • Jump leads
  • Another functioning car
  • Safety goggles and gloves if you have them (recommended)

Jump-Starting the Car

  1. Find someone with a car nearby that has a functioning battery that will assist you in jumping your own car. The working jumper car will need to park next to yours so that the front noses are very close but not touching. They must be close enough that the jump leads can reach both batteries once the bonnets are opened. If the two cars are touching in any way, you can cause serious electrical damage to both vehicles when you jump the battery.
  2. Be sure both cars are fully turned off (including lights, radio, A/C and all accessories), in either park (for automatic transmission) or neutral (for manual transmission), with the keys removed. Use the parking brake on both vehicles, so no unexpected movements occur.
  1. Separate and untangle your jumper leads. Be sure that the black and red ends never touch one another once they are connected to either of the car batteries.
  1. Take one clamp of the red positive (+) jumper lead and attach it to the positive terminal on the dead battery. Take the second red positive (+) clamp and secure it to the positive terminal on the good battery. Take one end of the black negative (-) jumper lead and attach it to the negative terminal on the good battery. Take the second black negative (-) clamp and connect it to a spot of clean, unpainted metal under the bonnet of the dead car. This can be somewhere on the engine block, or any piece of shiny metal attached to the engine, as long as it is not near the battery. Never connect the black negative clamp to the negative terminal of the dead battery – unless you want to see sparks or an explosion.
  1. Before moving forward – stop and double check that your jump leads are not touching any moving parts in the engine areas.
  1. Now you’re ready to attempt your jump-start. Start up the working car that is doing the jump, and allow it to run for a couple of minutes. This gives time to charge the dead battery.
  1. Now it is time to start the dead car. Once you get the car started, remove the jumper cables. The order of removal is crucial – you must do it in the reverse order to the way in which you attached them – remembering to never let any of the cables or clamps touch. Remove the black negative (-) clamp from the grounded metal on the previously dead car. Remove the other black negative (-) clamp from the negative terminal. Remove the red positive (+) clamp from positive terminal on the good car. Finally, remove the last red positive (+) clamp from the positive terminal of the previously dead battery. If you had to remove any positive red protective covers prior to jumping, you can put them back on now.
  1. Once you get your car up and running again, don’t turn off the car for at least 20-30 minutes. This is a must! It will allow time for the battery to recharge itself, which will ensure it should turn on again the next time you put your key in the ignition. You do not want another dead battery after all that work.
  2. Give yourself a pat on the back. You have now successfully jump-started a vehicle!

If the Jump-Start Fails

If you followed all of these steps, and still have no luck, or the car starts but dies again, the issue is likely much larger than a dead battery. If this is the case contact us on 1300 695 717 and we will be happy to help figure out whether we are able to fix it or if its time for a battery replacement.

After reading this guide, you should now be a jump starting whiz. Hopefully the next time you go to turn your car key to find your battery is dead, you will be prepared with the tools and knowledge to be able to perform a jump-start safely and securely, getting you back on the road in no time. For any further information regarding your car battery, be sure to Holler for a Marshall.

To keep you entertained while you're waiting for roadside assistance to jump start your car, tune into this playlist of 15 essential road trip songs that our Facebook community put together.

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