Decidedly mundane…

How to Jumpstart Your Car with Jumper Cables

Yesterday, my car battery went dead at the parking lot of a hypermarket in Kembangan. I forgot to turn the lights off, unfortunately. Lesson #1: don’t forget to turn all lights off prior to leaving the car. While I was pondering on how best to get the car started, the family whose car was parked in front of me told me that they had contacted the security guards and had them announce the condition over the PA system, but sadly I didn’t hear any of the announcements over the excitement of buying a new TV. Lesson #2: don’t get overexcited when buying a new TV so that you didn’t hear PA announcements.

But those are not all the lesson I learned yesterday. After disabling the stubborn car alarm blaring the horn all around, I ran back to the store and bought a set of jumper cables (IDR 31,900 after discount). After that, I scouted the parking lot for anybody nice enough to let me use their car battery to jumpstart mine. Thankfully, a couple of good guys in their car waiting for their mom shopping didn’t mind helping. Thanks guys! All is set for my third lesson for the day. So, here’s how to jumpstart your car by connecting to another car’s battery:

  1. Get your hands on a pair of jumper cables. Try your local hypermarket, auto repair shop, neighbor, or any good samaritan you can find. It doesn’t hurt to put a pair of these on your car for those emergency cases.
  2. Find yourself a battery to connect to. The best ones are the ones inside a car with running engine, minimizing the risk the battery running out of juice while you’re still trying to jumpstart yours.
  3. Connect the jumper cables the right way: negative to negative and positive to positive. As a rule of thumb, the red cable connects the positive node of the source (live) battery to the positive node of the target (dead) battery, and the black one to the negative nodes. It’s the same, actually. So if you mistake the red for the negatives for example, it’s still OK. Just be sure that you connect the same kind of nodes: negative to negative and positive to positive.
  4. If you’re connecting to a battery inside a car with running engine, ask the driver to throttle up a bit. I think the best is around 2,500 or 3,000 rpm. The engine is charging the battery, which is in turn trying to jumpstart your engine, so it will need a little boost from the running engine.
  5. Try to start your engine as usual. You know, turn your keys to the ‘Start’ position.
  6. Revel at the glory of hearing your car engine running and thank the guys helping you (if any). Hug the person closest to you. Kiss him/her if that’s your drift.
  7. Pull the jumper cables off. Any order will do, it doesn’t matter. Just don’t connect the red cable to the black cable while still attached to any of nodes or you’ll shortfuse your car (or the other car).
  8. Your battery is still dead, so breathe some new life to the thing by revving up your engine a little. The steps above only enables you to start your engine. That battery of yours is still limp. Rev your engine around 2,500 or 3,000 rpm for 15 minutes or so. This will allow the engine to re-charge your battery.
  9. You’re free to go now. Just understand, that your battery is still not at it’s normal condition. So, be considerate. If you can, avoid turning the lights, air condition or any other accessories on.

In case you’re asking, why didn’t I try to jumpstart the car by pushing the car, my car has automatic transmission.

8 Responses to “How to Jumpstart Your Car with Jumper Cables”

  1. Probably better to connect the negative terminal of the ‘dead-car’ to the chassis instead (and last in sequence). I’m not sure why, but my guesstimate is to avoid ‘battery-explosion’ from the spark when you first connect the lead. (dead battery has a dangerous in-rush current, that may ignite hydrogen fumes from the battery).

    Also, voltage spikes may cause a havoc on your car’s computer system (if applicable ;) ). Connecting or disconnecting the jumper lead from a running engine may cause this. So, it may be better to leave the engine off for the whole process (the ‘donor’ of course).

    I forgot how to put link :(


  2. @ Rusdy:
    I’ve done prior research before I posted, and yes, your note is totally in line with most of similar entries all over the web. My argument is, this is how my father and I do jumpstarts all the time. Heheh. Perhaps an angel of some sort have been protecting us all this time?

    But I stand corrected, folks! I think it is better and safer to do what Rusdy said instead. Thanks, pal!

  3. I was wondering, Does it matter if I connect the negative cable to the battery on the live battery? Say I installed remote terminals on my truck, Could I just run the negative to the chassis or should I run it to the battery.
    I just wanted to know so that i could be covered incase I had to jump someone or be jumped. Thanks.

  4. @ Ace_boy2099:
    I don’t get what you’re calling “remote terminals”, but my friend commented above told me not to connect the cable to the negative terminals and connect it to the chassis instead. This way, we’ll avoid sparks etc.

  5. @ gardine
    I believe that is so the spark doesn’t ignite flammable gasses that may or may not be emmitting from the battery.

    By “Remote Terminals” I mean something where i run cables from the battery to a remote location like a front or rear bumper for instance of which can be used as posts for Jumper Cables or even Aligator clips for a higher power Power Inverter.

    The Web site here is the “Remote Terminals” I am refering to.

  6. @ Ace_boy2099:
    Hmmm. Sorry, man. I have no idea. I have no experience working with the remote terminals. Perhaps somebody can help?

  7. Hi,

    Thank you for your information sir. It’s really2 helpful. Never know what to do in case I have trouble like that.

    Thanks a lot. :D

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