All drivers should know how to jumpstart a car. It’s one of those skills that you might never need to use. But should you ever need it, you’ll be glad you took the time to learn it!
Covid-19 lockdown is a good time to learn about jumpstarting cars. And that’s because, under furlough or out of work, many people will be driving a lot less than usual. If you leave your car idle for too long, your battery could run flat. So when you’re finally read to start driving again, you might have difficulty getting your car started. At that point, a set of jump leads and a friendly neighbour could get you up and running in no time.
How to Jumpstart a Car with a Flat Battery
To jumpstart a car with a flat battery, you’ll need a set of jump leads and another car, one with a fully-charged battery. Please note that electric and hybrid cars run on different sorts of batteries to petrol and diesel powered cars.
Never attempt to jumpstart a petrol or diesel car from an electric or hybrid car, or vice versa.
Should I Jumpstart my car?
You should only try to jumpstart a car if you know exactly what you’re doing. Do it incorrectly, and you could damage your car and the other car while risking significant personal injury. While jumpstarting is a good skill to have, it’s also something that’s probably best left to professionals. You should only aim to jumpstart a car yourself when you have absolutely no other option.
Jumpstarting a Car – Essential Safety Tips
- Check your battery before you begin. If it looks damaged, or it’s leaking, then you don’t need a jumpstart. You need a new battery! And be very careful as battery acid can cause nasty burns.
- Don’t use damaged jump leads, and stop using them immediately if they get hot.
- Remove any clothing that could get trapped in the engine, like scarves or ties. Don’t let any metal objects touch the battery, so remove all jewellery before you begin.
- Don’t smoke, and don’t allow any naked flames near either car battery. They can emit flammable gases.
- Turn the car engines off before you attempt to remove any jump leads. Otherwise, you could seriously damage both cars’ electronics.
How to Jumpstart a Car – Step-by-Step
- Park the cars front-to-front, as close as they can get without touching. Put the handbrakes on and turn the ignitions off.
- Connect the red jump lead first, from the working battery’s positive terminal to the flat battery’s positive terminal. On each battery, the positive terminal will be marked with a +.
- Then connect the black jump lead to the working battery’s negative terminal – the one marked with a -. Do not connect it to the other battery. Instead, you need to attach the other end to an earthing point – any unpainted metal on the other car’s engine block or chassis, so long as it’s away from both the flat battery and the fuel system.
- Once you’ve made all your connections, wait for three minutes. Then start the working car’s engine, and let it run for one minute.
- You should now be able to start the car with the flat battery. Then you need to let both cars idle at a fast pace for up to 10 minutes.
- After this, turn off both cars’ engines. Carefully disconnect the leads in the reverse order to how you connected them. So start by removing the black lead from the earthing point on the car with the flat battery, and remove the red lead from the positive terminal of the fully-charged battery last.
After this, try starting the car with the flat battery. Ideally, it’ll start. But if it doesn’t, it might mean that you’ve a more serious problem with your battery, or with some other element of your car. In this case, you’ll have to call a mechanic.
For more information on how to jumpstart a car with a flat battery, here’s a helpful video from the RAC.
Don’t Let Your Car Battery Run Flat!
If you’re stuck at home under lockdown, or if you’re out of work or furloughed, you’re probably using your car less often than you used to. Let your car sit for too long without driving it, and your battery could run down. So even if you’re not currently driving to and from work, you should still aim to drive your car at least once a week. This will help to ensure that everything keeps running like it’s supposed to.
If your battery does go flat, and if you’re unwilling or unable to jumpstart it, you’ll need to call a mechanic. At Go Girl, we offer breakdown cover as an optional extra on our comprehensive car insurance policies. So no matter what happens, there’ll always be help at hand. Head here for more information.