We’ve all been there. The car won’t start because the battery has gone flat or ‘temporarily’ asleep. It is almost always because we left the lights on and it’s drained the battery. It happens and sadly, it’s a lesson we forget. But knowing how to safely jump start your car in an event of a flat battery is important for every driver to know. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of ways to do this the wrong way. You could be putting yourself and your car at risk as a result. Nobody needs or wants that!
So here’s how to safely jump start your car, the right way:
- You’ll need to find a donor car – you’ll need their battery to help give yours a jolt. In our experience, we’ve never had a fellow motorist turn us down in our hour of need.
- Get the donor car as close to your car as possible and pop the hoods of each car.
- Grab your jumper cables. We’re going to bet you don’t have a set – check with the donor car for theirs. Readers have told us that they’ve found taxis are more likely to have jumper leads so in the event you or the donor car don’t have any, look for a taxi.
- Make sure both cars are turned off – including radio and lights. This is important.
- Grab your jumper leads and connect the positive (+) terminal from the donor car to the positive (+) terminal on your car. Do the same for the negative (-) terminals. If it’s a bit tricky (due to the design of the battery), connecting to anything metallic close enough to the battery, like a bolt perhaps.
- Before you start the donor car, ensure the area is clear of any other cables and that nothing will get in the way.
- Start the donor car and allow it to run for a few minutes to give your battery a decent amount of juice. You can then try starting your car. It may crank for a bit depending on how flat your battery really is. But in most cases, your car will start back up again.
- Once this happens, don’t be in a rush to disconnect and drive off. You need to give your car a bit of time to charge up. This doesn’t have to be long though – just a few minutes while you turn your lights, radio and accessories on to make sure it’s all working and to avoid any spikes in voltage when you remove the cables.
- Removing the cables is another important step to be done correctly – remove them in reverse order – remove the negative (-) cable from your car then the same from the donor car. Then remove the positive (+) cable from the donor car then your car. That’s it! Now you know how to safely jump start your car.
- Once you’ve disconnected, you can be on your way – but make sure not to turn your car off at any point otherwise you’ll risk needing another jump start.
- Try to drive for at least 20-30 minutes at a constant speed. If your destination is closer than that (and you know you’ll have access to jumper leads and donor car batteries), that’s fine too.
- If you run into another flat battery problem soon after and it’s not because you’ve left the lights on, it may be worth getting the battery checked out.