There are various reasons your car battery dies: not starting your car for long periods, keeping it in freezing temperatures, leaving headlights or interior lights on, and more. That is why learning how to charge a car battery with jumper cables is an essential skill every car owner should know. The jumper cables will let you connect to another car to recharge your dead battery.
There’s a lot of smart engineering that goes into a car’s electrical system. Alternators, batteries, and other pieces in between make sure your car starts and keeps running. When everything’s working correctly, these parts are hardly noticeable, but their importance becomes much clearer when something goes wrong.
Generally, jumpstarting your car using cables or a battery charger is a safe and secure way to quickly power up a dead battery. There are many stories of exploding batteries happening to vehicles after an improper jumpstart. However, these are mostly inaccurate. That said, there will always be a certain level of risk, especially when cables are not used properly. So here are the proper ways on how to charge a car battery with jumper cables.
- Examine the condition of your car’s battery before jumpstarting. Your battery should be intact with no visible cracks, and should not leak any battery acid. If your battery displays any sign of damage, do not attempt to perform how to charge a car battery with jumper cables since it may cause you and others serious injuries. This is the first step when knowing how to charge a car battery with jumper cables.
- Always wear safety goggles and rubber gloves when touching a dead car battery. Goggles and gloves will keep your eyes and hands safe from any sulfuric acid that may expel from the battery.
- Secure the cables attached to your car’s battery and make sure that it is free of corrosion. If you see any sign of corrosion, try to clean them first using a stiff-bristled brush. Alerts you if pets escape or enter an area of your home.
- Drive the functional car next to the car with a dead battery making sure the vehicles do not touch one another. The ideal setup for charging a car battery with jumper cables is either setting the cars closely to one another, facing head-on, or nose-to-nose. The distance between the cars should be close enough for the jumper cables to connect them. Never connect two different pairs of jumper cables if your first pair isn’t long enough. It can cause the jumper cables to melt and start a fire.
- Turn off the functional car with the charged battery.
Jumpstarting the Dead car Battery
- Open the hood on each vehicle where the batteries are located.
- Become familiar with the positive and negative terminals on each car battery. Positive terminals are indicated by a plus symbol (+), while negative terminals are indicated by a minus symbol (-).
- Attach the end of the positive jumper cable to the positive terminals on each car battery. The positive jumper cable is usually red unless labeled otherwise. The pattern in which you connect the jumper cables makes a difference. So do the following: Connect the positive jumper cable to the dead battery, and attach the other positive end of the cable to the charged battery.
- Connect one end of the negative cable to the negative terminal on the charged battery. Typically, the negative jumper cable is black.
- Join the other end of the negative jumper cable to the grounded metal part of the car with the dead battery. It will ground the vehicle that contains the dead battery when jumpstarting. Attach the ground cable to the chassis, frame, or another component that is clean and free of paint or corrosion.
- After five minutes, start the engine of the car with the functional battery. It will enable the dead battery to build up a charge of its own, although it would take longer to fully charge the battery.
- Try to start the engine of the car with the dead battery. Given enough power from the jumper cables and the battery you are charging, the car engine should turn easily and start. If the engine with the dead battery fails to start, give it five more minutes to charge.
- Remove the jumper cables from the cars after the engine has started in reverse order. It will prevent sparks from occurring.
- Let the car, which contains the dead battery to continue running for at least five more minutes. It will enable the alternator in the car to recharge the battery.
- Drive the jumpstarted car for 20 minutes or allow it to be idle for the same amount of time. Sometimes, the battery will become fully charged within this time; however, you may need to purchase a new battery for your car if it doesn’t charge sufficiently to crank the car.
Typically, most car batteries are the same, and completing the process on how to charge a car battery with jumper cables is relatively straightforward. However, it’s essential to review your owner’s manual to ensure your jumpstart is both safe and effective. Also, check your jumper cables every season and store them in your trunk. Find out more about Car Safety.