I actually didn’t know how to jump start a car with jumper-cables until this morning. Until today I have been unwittingly “jumping” cars without cables. In this post, I am going to run through the basics (how to jump a car with cables – which was new to me), the junior varsity (how to jump a stick shift car without cables) and the varsity (how to jump an automatic car without cables – yes it can be done).
The Basic – I had never jumped a car with cables because I was always worried that I was going to get electrocuted or the battery would blow up. The standard steps for this are below:
1) Get a car that has a working battery and park it near the car that has the dead battery. Turn the working car off.
2) Connect the red (positive) jumper-cable to the positive side of the stalled battery.
3) Connect the red (positive) jumper-cable to the positive side of the good battery.
4) Connect the black (negative) jumper-cable to the negative side of the good battery.
5) Connect the black (negative) jumper-cable to a metal surface on the car with the dead battery – the engine block is an OK place for this.
6) Start the good car and run it for 2-3 minutes. It actually helps to rev the engine if you feel the battery isn’t charging. I say this from experience. I once got a jump from a guy wearing only a pair of jean shorts and a cape (I live in California), who drove a tiny car and we only got mine to start after a few minutes of running the engine of the working car at high RPMs. If you feel you are getting a weak transfer of power to the dead battery, try changing the location of the black jumper-cable in step #5. If this cable is connected to the side of the car or a dirty piece of metal, the process won’t work well.
7) Start the car with the dead battery.
8) Remove the cables in reverse order.
9) Keep the car with the battery that was dead running for about 30 minutes. It helps to run the engine at high RPMs.
Junior Varsity – You can charge a car without jumper-cables. This is typically done with stick shift cars, but I have done it with automatic cars too. With a stick shift car, follow the instructions below:
1) You will need to roll the car, so if it is at the top of a hill, great. If not, you will have to find someone or a few people to push it, since you will have to be in the car to start it. Remember, the steering wheel and brakes do rely on electrical systems, so don’t roll down a very steep hill.
2) Take off the hand-brake, release the foot-break and push down the clutch to get the car rolling.
3) Once the car gets going to about 5 miles per hour, try starting it by turning the key in the ignition with the clutch down.
4) If that doesn’t work, while the car is rolling, turn the key in the ignition as you release the clutch into gear and depress the accelerator into gear. You will want to give it a lot of gas, so it is recommended that you put the car into second gear when you push down on the accelerator. This has never failed me.
Varsity – Contrary to popular belief, you can jump-start an automatic car without jumper-cables. It’s been documented and I managed to do it in a McDonald’s parking lot in Vallejo, California. The principles are the same as with a stick shift car:
1) Again, you will need to roll the car, so find a place and the right bodies to get the car in motion to about 5 miles per hour.
2) Release the hand-brake and foot-brake, and put the car in second gear.
3) Once the car gets up to about 5 miles per hour, try starting the car by turning the ignition.
4) If that doesn’t work, keep the car in second gear and push down the gas as you turn the ignition.
Let me know if you have any trouble!