How to safely jump start your car

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Many things can leave your car with a dead battery, such as accidentally leaving your...

Many things can leave your car with a dead battery, such as accidentally leaving your lights on. If you find yourself with a car that refuses to start, chances are your first concern will be how to jump start your vehicle so you can get back on the road.

Some things can mimic a poorly charged battery, such as a bad battery cable, so determining if you are dealing with a bad battery can help you save some time before you hook up the jumper cables. But as a general rule, if you hear a slow moaning or whining sound when you turn the key, it's probably time to grab your jumper cables.

How to hook up jumper cables and jump start your car

Remove rings, watches and dangling jewelry or clothing, then put on some protective gear before you get started on the main part of this task. You should be wearing rubber-soled shoes, long sleeves, eye protection and gloves before you start connecting the cables to the vehicles.

  1. Park the donor car close enough to the disabled vehicle, without the two touching, that the cables can connect to both cars' batteries.
  2. Turn off all accessories in both cars, set the emergency brakes and turn the ignitions off.
  3. Connect the clamp with the red-coated cable to the post on the positive side of the dead battery (labeled with a plus sign), making sure you have a good metal-on-metal connection. Then connect the clamp on the other end of the red cable to the post on the positive side of the donor vehicle's battery.
  4. Attach the black cables in the same way, but in the reverse order. This time, attach the cable to the post on the battery's negative side on the donor car first. Then create a grounded connection by hooking the other end of the black cable to an unpainted piece of metal in the engine compartment, slightly away from the battery.
  5. Check to ensure that the cables are not dangling near any of the moving parts in the engine compartment, then start the donor car. Allow the donor car to run for a few minutes before trying to turn on the car with the dead battery. If it won't start after jumping, you will probably need to call your mechanic for help. If it does start, carefully unhook the cables, making sure they don't touch while still connected to a running vehicle.

Important safety note

Jump starting your car can be dangerous, so if you have any doubts about your ability to safely perform this task, it's a good idea to call your local Atlanta mechanic for help.

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