Safely Jump Start someone else's Car

Safely Jump Start Another Car [16 Safety Steps]

Have you met someone who tried to turn their car on and nothing happened? They only heard a few clicks from the engine. The battery doesn’t have a charge. It could be low or dead. How can you help?

To jump-start another car safely you’ll need to ensure you follow these safety steps. 

  1. Ensure you can work safely away from any traffic.
  2. Ensure you are parked securely so the cars can’t move. 
  3. Ensure the either battery is not cracked or showing signs of a leak.
  4.  Ensure your batteries are both 12V. (Don’t jump-start a Semi-truck)
  5.  Ensure your jumper cables are not too thin. (Cheaply made jumper cables may not carry current well, some may get too hot.)
  6. Ensure both engines are off before you begin. 
  7. Untangle the cables and ensure the cable clamps don’t touch each other during connection to batteries.
  8. Attach the cables in the correct order and in the right location. (1. Red clamp (positive) on the dead battery. 2. Red clamp (positive) on the good battery. 3. Black clamp (negative) on the good battery. 4. Black clamp (negative) on the car frame of the dead battery.)
  9.  Ensure the cable clamps are firmly secure to the frame and battery posts. 
  10. Ensure the cable wires aren’t near any moving parts like fans.
  11. Ensure no one is near either engine when you turn on the car with a good battery.
  12. Start the car with a good battery and wait 2-5 minutes.
  13. Try starting the car with the dead battery. If begins to start but doesn’t wait another 2-5 minutes.
  14. Once the car with the dead battery starts immediately take off the jumper cables. (1. Detach negative clamp on dead battery car. 2. Detach the positive clamp on the dead battery. Lay on the ground ensuring they don’t touch each other. 3. Detach the positive clamp on the good battery. 4. Detach the negative clamp on the good battery.)
  15. If the car battery starts to smoke during the jumpstart, turn off the car and stay away from the battery, it may explode.
  16. If the jumper cables start smoking turn off the car and remove them when cool enough to touch.  

These are some basic safety procedures you can take to ensure safer results when jump-starting someone’s car.  

Get Good Cables for Safe Car Jump Starting

Start With Good Jumper Cables

When you or someone else needs a jump start you want to get back on the road as quickly as possible. The trick is to do it safely. It only takes a few extra minutes to be safe. 

You’ll need to have jumper cables in your car or a portable jump starter. Jumper cables or portable jump starters are both easy to store in your car and you’ll usually need them at some point.

Select a good pair of jumper cables (see the article about the best jumper cables). Longer cables are usually better because you better reach both batteries when jump-starting. Longer cables provide convenience.

But in my opinion, it’s the strength of the cable that matters the most. The gauge measures the strength of a cable. Thicker cables have a lower gauge resulting in more strength. I have a six-gauge cable that extends about 20 feet.

A few days back I faced a similar situation when the battery of my car become dead. But I had a jumper cable and a working car near me. So, I was able to get my car started.

To prevent yourself from similar circumstances always carry jumper cables in your roadside kit. 

More Safety Precautions before Jump Staring A Car

More Safety Precautions Jump Start
  • Keep all the people and children away from the engine.
  • Read the manual of your car.
  • Check to see if the engine has any oil or gas leaks and fix those first. 
  • Don’t touch the batteries or jumper cables during the jump start.
  • Don’t touch the metal clumps if they are too hot. Use gloves if needed.
  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes when the engine is on.
  • If there is any damage to either battery don’t jump-start your car or another car.
  • Remove ring or metal jewelry from your body.
  • Check the battery for any cracks, leaks, or smells.
  • If your battery is not a sealed one, don’t unscrew the caps if the battery is hot. Wait until it’s cool and the engine has been off for a while. 
  • Before getting a jump start you may want to check the water levels on older batteries. If there is not sufficient water, add distilled water. Use safety glasses and rubber gloves. 
  • Don’t jump-start your vehicle, if the battery is frozen or water levels are very low.
  • If you have a sealed modern battery, then the water level shouldn’t be a problem you need to worry about.

These are some things you can do to be extra safe. When a car is new and in good condition, you might need to worry less but these are good practices to follow for any car.

Prepare For A Safe Jump Start

Prepare For a Safe Jump Start
  • Park the cars facing each other if possible. This helps you prevent stretching the jumper cable too far and possibly causing safety problems.   
  • For automatic transmission cars, put the vehicle in park and for manual, put the vehicle on neutral.
  • Keep both cars’ parking brakes on.
  • Turn off both the cars and remove the keys
  • Open the hoods of both so they can’t fall down during the jump start. 
  • Locate the battery terminals and ensure which are positive and which are negative. (Black = negative, Red = positive)
  • Make sure to identify the positive and negative jumper cable clamps.
  • Clean any dirty terminals with a wire brush to ensure a good connection and prevent sparks or overheating jumper cables.
  • Ensure your jumper cable clamps are secure to prevent sparks and ensure good charging.  
  • Connect the negative clamp to the car frame on the dead battery car. This helps prevent sparks. Make sure the clamp is away from any gas lines and on an unpainted metal ground (like the car engine) away from the battery.  

Make sure that jumping cables are not mishandled while connecting them. Prevent the clamps from touching each other. Use jumper cables with great care.

Connect Jumper Cables

  • Do NOT smoke during the jump start of your car.
  • Hydrogen in the battery can get ignited from sparks or heat sources like cigarettes. If it gets ignited, it can explode.

Check the connection twice before proceeding as one wrong connection can cause an accident.

After the Jump Start

  • Don’t turn off the engines.
  • After the cables have been removed, let the car charge for 30 minutes. It’s best to drive around instead of letting the car sit and idle.
  • Check the battery performance the next time you start your car. If it’s sluggish on start, it may need some more driving to charge it, or something else could be wrong. 
  • Check the battery after the second or third start from the original jump start. If your battery just doesn’t seem to charge fully, consider you have a bad battery, the wires aren’t secure, or the alternator has issues.

Unsuccessful Jump Start

Unsuccessful Jump Start
  • In a few cases, it may happen that the jump start is not successful or if the car starts and dies again. That means that your car has some other issue.
  • Is your battery 4+ years old? Some batteries show the install date and years of service on the label.
  • Is your battery still under warranty? There’s a chance you can get a replacement battery for free. 
  • Is there corrosion on the battery?
  • Are the wire connections on the starter secure? 
  • Are the wire connections on the alternator secure? 
  • Have you inspected your battery with a multimeter? (see video below)
  • Do you need a professional battery diagnosis? 

If you need to diagnose your battery and the possible reason it might not be working you can watch this video for ideas. You’ll need a multimeter and a little bit of time. 

Final Thoughts

Having a dead battery when you urgently need your car is a pain. Getting your car back on track is usually not too difficult.

Once your car is jump-started you can do some diagnostics to find out if this is just because you left the lights on, your battery life is up, or other issues. 

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