Jumper cables are an invaluable part of any vehicle emergency kit, especially during the winter. But some motorists, in their haste to get back on the road, rush through the jump-starting process and take unnecessary safety risks.
As a friendly reminder, here are the steps to safely jump-start a dead battery, as provided by AAA:
- Inspect the battery for low electrolyte level and top up with distilled water as necessary. If the electrolyte loss was caused by leakage from a cracked case, replace the battery.
- In low temperatures, look for a bulging case or ice in the cells that indicate the battery has frozen. If necessary, remove the battery and allow it to thaw in a warm location before proceeding.
- Never attempt to charge or jump-start a battery that is frozen or low on electrolyte. The battery may rupture or explode.
- Always check your owner’s manual for vehicle-specific instructions and precautions before attempting a jump-start. Below is a summary of the general procedure.
1. Position the two vehicles so their batteries are within jumper cable distance of one another, but do not allow the vehicles to touch.
2. On each vehicle:
-- Remove the key from the ignition. If either vehicle is equipped with a keyless ignition system, make sure the “smart fob” is at least 10 feet away from the vehicle before connecting the jumper cables.
-- Set the parking brake.
-- Turn off all factory electrical systems such as the lights, heater fan, radio, etc.
-- Disconnect any aftermarket electrical accessories such as cell phones, radar detectors, stereo amplifiers, etc.
3. Identify the positive and negative terminals on the discharged battery and the booster battery.
4. Connect the jumper cables in the following order to the specified locations:
-- Install one end of the positive jumper cable (red clamp) to the positive terminal of the discharged battery.
-- Install the other end of the positive jumper cable (red clamp) to the positive terminal of the booster battery.
-- Install one end of the negative jumper cable (black clamp) to the negative terminal of the booster battery.
-- Connect the other end of the negative jumper cable (black clamp) to a ground point on the vehicle with the discharged battery, such as the engine block or an accessory bracket, as far from the battery as possible. To prevent damage from sparks, never connect the negative jumper cable to the discharged battery.
5. Try to start the vehicle with the discharged battery. If the engine seems to be turning too slowly, stop cranking and start the other vehicle to avoid draining both batteries. Try to start the discharged vehicle again.
6. Once the vehicle starts:
-- Allow it to run at a high idle for 30 seconds or more
-- Turn on the headlights and heater blower motor to provide an electrical path for any voltage spikes that may occur when disconnecting the jumper cables.
-- Remove the jumper cables in the reverse order of installation.
-- Turn off the headlights and heater blower motor.
To watch a video on how to jump-start, produced by Advance Auto Parts, click on the photo or link below the headline.