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Road Safety 101: How to Safely Jump-Start a Car

If your car won't start, you may be able to get it running again with a jump start from another vehicle. Jump starting an automobile battery can get you back on the road again quickly — as long as it is done safely.

Jump starting a car can be dangerous if not performed properly. Proper precautions must be taken. According to the Sight and Hearing Association, nearly six thousand motorists annually suffer serious eye injury from improperly jump starting a dead battery. Batteries contain corrosive chemicals, and when those chemicals are disturbed, batteries can explode. Our Detroit car accident lawyers at Goodman Acker P.C. have provided this guide as a part of our Road Safety 101 blog series. We hope you find it informative!

Can the Car Be Jumped?

The first step is to determine whether the problem is a dead battery. A dead battery usually causes the motor to crank slowly, or not at all, instead giving just a "clicking" sound. You can also turn on the car lights and try turning the key in the ignition. A dead battery will cause the lights to dim significantly when attempting to start the vehicle. If the engine is cranking normally but not turning over and then starting, and the lights stay bright during cranking, the problem is most likely not your battery, and you should call a tow truck to get your vehicle to a repair shop.

Step 1: Equipment

Every driver should have a set of good-quality jumper cables handy. Take out the jumper cables and lay them on the ground. Wear some type of eye protection and put on gloves prior to connecting the cables.

Step 2: Connecting the Cables

Bring the vehicles close together but not touching. Make sure both vehicles are turned off, in park, and the parking brakes are engaged. Connect the batteries together in the following order:

  1. Connect a positive (+, red) end of the cable to the positive terminal of the DEAD battery.
  2. Connect the other end of the positive cable (+, red) to the positive terminal of the GOOD battery.
  3. Connect the negative cable (-, black) to the negative terminal of the GOOD battery. At this point, your cables are LIVE and conducting electricity. Be careful not to touch the ends together or make contact with bother terminals.
  4. Connect the other end of the negative cable (-, black) to an unpainted metal surface on the car with the bad battery. Do not connect to the negative terminal of the bad battery.

Step 3 - Starting the Car

Start the car with the good battery. Let it run for a few minutes, and then try to start the car with the dead battery. If the car doesn't start, check all of the connections and try again after a few more minutes. If the car still won't start, disconnect all the cables and call a tow truck. Your problem is probably something other than a dead battery.

However, if it does start up, congratulations! Disconnect the cables in the opposite order that you connected them, and put away the cables. Do not turn off your car right away. Drive for at least 15 minutes to recharge the battery. If your car doesn't start again, the battery is damaged and needs to be replaced.