How to jump start a car – the four key checks to make before using jump leads

Guide to charging your car battery

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A jump start is the quickest way to get your car back on the move when faced with a flat battery, yet thousands of drivers are still clueless on exactly how to do it. Finding some working jump leads is the first step to successfully restarting your car, but what’s the right way to use them? reveals the four key safety checks you should always make before starting your car.

What should you do before jump-starting a car?

A flat car battery is enough to ruin any journey, especially on cold mornings when you’re already late for work.

Whether you have jump leads in your own car or are phoning in a favour from someone who does, knowing how to use them is crucial to get you back on the road as safely and as quickly as possible.

While you might know how to connect the two leads to each vehicle, Halfords has revealed the four key safety checks you should always make before attempting a jump start – but what are they?

Check that the battery isn’t leaking or damaged

If you notice any of the following, you should seek help from a professional auto mechanic:

  • A bubbly liquid seeping through a vent cap
  • Bloated or warped battery casing
  • A rotten egg smell emanating from the battery solution
  • Noticeable corrosion around the battery terminal caps

Check for naked flames

Always scan the surrounding area for naked flames or nearby cigarettes.

Keep clothing away from the battery

All clothing and metal items like jewellery should be kept out of the way of the battery.

Take the key out of the ignition

Make sure both cars are off with the keys removed from the ignition before connecting the cables.

How to jump start a car

Once you’ve made the necessary checks, you’re ready to start positioning the cables to revive a flat battery.

You will need:

  • The two jump leads – one black ‘negative’ cable and one red ‘positive’ cable.
  • Another car with a charged battery
  • Gloves and goggles for extra safety if possible

Position the cars

First, you’ll need to park the car with the fully-charged battery so that it’s facing the car that’s broken down.

Leave enough space between the two so that you can open both bonnets and connect your jump leads to each battery.

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Attach the cables

Once the vehicles are positioned, it’s time to put on your gloves and goggles and attach the red ‘positive’ lead to the positive battery terminal on the working car – (look for a plus symbol next to the terminal).

Connect the other end of the red lead to the positive terminal on the flat battery

After making the positive connection, you should connect the black ‘negative’ cable to the matching terminal on the charged vehicle – (look for a minus sign next to the terminal).

Do not attach the other end of the cable to the dead battery just yet.

Instead, Halfords recommends clipping the clamp onto a piece of solid metal away from the fuel system and battery.

Halfords said: “Some cars will have a specific area known as an earthing rod, so check your owner’s manual to see if your car has one of these.”

Wait five minutes before running the engine

Once you have all four ends of the jump lead cables attached, wait five minutes before starting the engine of the charged car.

Leave the engine running and then try to start the car with the flat battery.

If it doesn’t start within five minutes, wait another couple of minutes and try again.

Jump start the car

Once the car with the flat battery is running, leave both car engines on for 10 minutes.

Remove the cables

When you have successfully managed to get both car engines running, it’s time to remove the cables in reverse order to the way you positioned them.

It is important to avoid the clamps touching any metal or other clamps as you take them off in the following order:

  • Black lead attached to car with flat battery off
  • Black lead attached to car with charged battery off
  • Red lead attached to both cars off
  • All leads fully detached from the car

Recharge the flat battery

After a successful jump start, you should leave the car with the newly charged battery running for at least 20 minutes.

Take it on a 30-minute drive to charge the battery as you travel, being careful not to stall the vehicle at any point.

Park up the charged vehicle – it should now work as normal the next time you put the key in the ignition.

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