Car batteries don’t last forever and can die based on many different situations. Maybe you left the car lights on overnight by accident, or maybe your battery is just too old. Regardless of why it dies, the fact is batteries are only made to last so long.

Most batteries have a lifespan of about four to six years. If you plan on keeping your car for more than six years, the battery will most likely need to be changed at some point. Before this happens, many people will typically have to jump-start their car at one time or another. So, it’s important to know what to do when you are faced with this situation. Jumping a car can be a very dangerous task if not done right, and we here at Auto Credit Express care about car owner’s safety.

Picking the Right Cables and Safety

Most jumper cables will get the job done. They all serve the same purpose; the only difference between cables is typically the length. Jumper cables can be anywhere from 10 to 20 feet long or longer, and the choice is yours. But, a longer cable means it may take more time for the electrical current to reach the dead battery.

Once you have your cables, make sure you go over the safety precautions. Look at the owner's manual for any extra steps the car may need when jumping it, and always keep in mind that you are dealing with strong electrical currents.

Jumping the Car

jump-start car, jumper cablesNow, it’s time to give your vehicle some life. Make sure you follow these steps for safety reasons when you jump a car.

  1. Have the working car that will be helping you jump-start be parked about 18 inches away and facing your vehicle. Make sure the two cars aren’t touching.
  2. Turn off both vehicles and remove the keys.
  3. Set the jumper cables on the ground, and have the metal clamps not touch each other.
  4. Open the hood of both cars and locate the batteries and battery terminals. For reference, read the owner’s manual to locate them. Most of the time, the terminals will be red and black with a plus (+) and/or a minus (-) sign on top. Tip: if there are no plus and minus signs, red is positive and black is negative.
  5. Attach the red, positive metal cable clamp to the positive (red or +) battery terminal to the dead battery first, then do the same with the working battery. Never let the metal clamps touch at any time.
  6. Then, connect the negative (black or -) metal cable clamp to the working battery terminal. For the dead battery, don’t connect the negative clamp. Instead, attach it to an unpainted metal part of the car such as a nut on the engine block.

After everything is properly set up, start the working car and wait a minute or two. Waiting will help make the jump successful, especially if you’re unsure as to how long the battery has been dead. Then, while the working vehicle is still running, try to start the dead car. If it doesn’t work right away, let the working vehicle run a few more minutes and try again.

Once you get the car running again, disconnect the jumper cables. Always start with the black cables, and never let the clamps touch each other when any parts of the cables are still attached to a vehicle. Electrical currents are still flowing through them, and you can experience extreme electrical shock when handling charged cables.

It’s also important that you don’t turn the car off immediately after you jump-start it. Either let the vehicle run for about 15 minutes or take a short drive. Doing this lets the alternator charge the battery and makes sure your car won’t die again once you turn it off.

The Bottom Line

Jumping a car is dangerous. It’s important to know the specific procedures if you choose to jump the vehicle yourself. Your car’s battery isn’t worth your own life.

If your car is beyond repair and you’re ready to buy a new vehicle, but bad credit is in your way, Auto Credit Express may be able to help. We connect car buyers to local dealers who have the lending resources available to help people in challenging credit situations. Our service is fast and free of cost and obligation. Get started today by filling out our online auto loan request form.