Many of us know the feeling – you get in the car, turn the key in the ignition, and nothing happens. Even if your car was perfectly fine just yesterday, a flat battery can strike at any time (usually when it’s most inconvenient!). If roadside assistance is not an option, or you simply don’t have time to wait around, jumpstarting your car is a temporary solution until you can get to a mechanic to check for more serious battery problems.
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In this article, we’ll give you the low down on how to tell when your car battery has died, what equipment you’ll need, how to safely jumpstart your car, and a whole heap of other jumpstarting tips.
How to jumpstart your car
A jumpstart obviously won’t be very helpful if a flat battery isn’t the problem. Here are some pretty good signs that your battery has died:
- On average, normal car batteries will last around four years. If you’re around the four-year mark, your battery might be dead.
- You turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens except some clicking.
- The engine cranks but doesn’t start.
- You have used power-draining features in your car for a long period of time without running the engine. For example, the radio or headlights.
- You’ve jumpstarted your car recently.
What you’ll need to jumpstart your car
Fortunately, there’s not too much equipment involved in jumpstarting a car. However, it’s important you have the right type of equipment.
- Jumper leads: These are the miracle workers that will enable you to restart the car. It’s best to check with your mechanic about which type will suit your vehicle. They should always come fitted with a surge protector.
- A donor battery: This should come from a working car with the same voltage. Most standard cars will have the same voltage.
- Your car’s manual: This usually contains important information about your battery.
Step-by-step guide on how to jumpstart a car
- Park both cars so that they’re facing each other. It’s vital that they are close, but not touching.
- Ensure the ignition is off in the vehicle with the flat battery and handbrakes are on (in both vehicles).
- Double check that your jumper leads are clean and in good condition. Do not use them if any of the cables are exposed.
- Locate the battery in both cars and identify the positive and negative terminals. This is where your manual will come in handy.
- Connect the red jumper lead to the positive terminal on the flat battery and then connect the other end of the lead to the positive terminal on the donor battery.
- Connect the black jumper lead to the negative terminal on the donor battery.
- Do not connect the other end of the black cable to the negative terminal on the flat battery.
- Start the engine with the working battery
- Connect the other end of the black jumper lead to a solid and unpainted metal area of the engine on the flat battery’s vehicle. This will ensure a safe jumpstart.
- Attempt to start the engine with the flat battery.
- Once it has started, do not turn the engine off, as it won’t have enough charge to start again without a donor battery.
- If the engine still won’t start, try again in two minutes. Don’t try more than three times if it’s not working, as you may cause permanent damage to the car.
- Disconnect the jumper leads in the reverse order you applied them. So, remove the black cable from the newly revived car, followed by the donor car. Then remove the red cable from the donor car, before removing it from the newly charged battery.
- Make sure none of the clamps on the jumper leads touch each other while still connected to a car.
- Take a 30-minute drive to build up the charge in the previously flat battery.
- If your jumpstart fails, call roadside assistance or call your Kmart Tyre & Auto Service mechanic.