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How to Use Jumper Cables

Knowing how to jump start a car with a dead battery is an important skill that every driver should possess. Even if you have a brand new car or one with a brand new battery, you could help someone else if you know how to do this. First and foremost, it is important to have a good set of jumper cables and have them with you in the car. Take them everywhere you go and never take them out and you will always have them when you need them. A five star safety rating doesn't mean much when you're car is not up and running.

Checking a Car Battery

Before you bother jumping a car battery, make sure that this is really the problem and that it really is dead. There are some really easy ways to do this. If you turn the ignition and you hear clicking but the car won't start, you are going to need a jump. If there are sounds like a starting noise and you see the clock or hear the radio come on, there is no problem with the battery and a jump will not do any good. Learn the tips any driver can use; from young adult auto insurance, to jumping a dead battery, and even changing a tire.

Attaching Jumper Cables

Once you have determined that there is a need and that jumping the battery will do some good, you will need to get a car with a fully charged battery in order to jump the dead one. Things must be done right and they must be done following a certain order of operations or there can be trouble. Avoid letting sparks fly and remember to follow these instructions. Even the disconnection when the jump is complete is important. Start by unraveling your cables and pulling them straight. You don't want them to have any reason to want to pull off of the car batteries.

Each end of the jumper cables has two clips. One of them is red and the other is black, helping you to tell them apart. The two cars should be pulled up in front of one another at this point close enough that the cables will extend battery to battery. Both hoods are opened so that the batteries can be accessed. One of the red clips on the jumper cables needs to be attached to a positive terminal on the dead battery. You can tell which one is positive usually by a "+" sign that will be visible near it, and by the fact that it is a bit bigger than the negative terminal. The clip should be attached to and make good contact with the metal on the terminal.

The other red clip then gets attached to the positive end on the car that has the good battery. This is attached in the same way, so that the metal on the red clip is in contact with the metal on the terminal nub. Then, attach the black clip on that same end to the good battery's negative terminal. The remaining black clip gets used to ground the connection by attaching it to the engine block. The cables may spark a little when you make this attachment; don't be startled or think you did something wrong if they do.

Checking Connections on Jumper Cables

Next, start the car with the dead battery. It should at least turn over right away, and it should not take that long to have enough power to start. If it doesn't start, check all of the proper jumper cable connections and make sure that the cables are connected securely and that there is good contact. When the job is finished, remove the connections in the reverse order from the one you used to attach them. Remove the ground first and proceed from there.


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