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How to jump start your car

Charl Grobler
March 02, 2018

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Dead battery got you down? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about jump starting your car safely.

There’s nothing worse than getting into your car after a long day at the office, only to find it won’t start.

If this is your first time having to jump start your car, running around trying to find a good samaritan with a set of jumper cables to borrow can be a bit of an ordeal. To avoid getting stuck waiting for roadside assist to rescue you, it’s a good idea to keep a set of jumper cables with your emergency kit.  Dont skimp on a low budget set of jumper cables, we recommend that you buy a decent set of jumper cables as not all jumper cables are created equal.

Here’s how you can jump start your car safely

What you’ll need to jump start your car

  • A set of (rust-free) jumper cables
  • A pair of rubber safety gloves
  • A good samaritan who is willing to help. Just remember that a passenger vehicle needs to be jump started by another passenger vehicle.

Examine your battery for any signs of damage

Just like any other car part, your battery suffers its fair share of wear and tear. Before you jump start your car, check for any obvious damage which could be the source of the problem.

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If there’s no obvious damage, you’ll need to find another motorist to help you jump start your car.

Safety tips before you start

  • Read your owner’s manual to find out whether your car’s manufacturer allows jump starting or not (if not, it could void your warranty). Your owner’s manual will also stipulate whether the jumper cables need to attach directly to the battery or to jump start lugs (common in newer models) where the battery might be concealed in the boot.

  • Unplug any accessories (like cell phone chargers, GPS devices, and so on) that could short out during a power surge.

  • Switch off all lights (including hazard lights and indicators), radio and windscreen wipers, in both cars.

  • Put on your rubber gloves.

  • Don’t lean over the battery of either vehicle.

  • Never jump start a frozen battery - you could cause an explosion.

Always remove the negative (-) cables on the jumper lead first and replace them last.

7 simple steps to safely jump start your car

1.Get your good samaritan to park their car next to yours. They need to be parked close enough for the jumper cables to comfortably reach between the two batteries.

2.Place both cars in park (for automatic vehicles) or neutral (for manual ones) and make sure both ignitions are switched off.

3.Starting with your own car, take a red clip and attach it to the positive (+) terminal of your battery. Do the same to the second car’s battery.

4.Take a black clip and attach it to the negative (-) terminal of the second car’s battery.

5.Take the second black clip and attach it to an unpainted metal surface (as far from your battery as possible). We recommend using one of the metal struts that holds the bonnet of your car open.

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6.Start the good samaritan’s car and let it run (occasionally revving gently) for a five to ten minutes.

7.Try to start your car.

8.If it still doesn’t start, check that the cables are in the correct position and securely connected. Then repeat steps six to seven.

9.Do not switch off your ignition once your engine starts. Close the bonnet and drive it around the block for at least 15 minutes to charge the battery.

10.If the battery runs dead a second time, this is an indication that the battery isn’t holding its charge. You’ll need to visit your nearest dealer or garage to test and replace your battery (if necessary).

Now you know how to safely jump start your car, without electrocuting yourself or damaging either of your vehicles.

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