As any seasoned driver will tell you, at some point you will experience a flat tire and a dead battery. It’s just a matter of time and with any luck, both won’t happen to you on the same day. We recently showed you how to change a flat tire, so today we’ll focus on dealing with the dreaded dead battery.
Owning a working set of jumper cables — and knowing how to use them — is a must for any man of driving age. Since using jumper cables incorrectly can fry your innards, we suggest you follow every step precisely. Most jumper cables have an instruction card or label so you can make sure you’re connecting yours correctly. As long as you hook up the cables properly, it doesn’t matter whether your vehicle has negative ground and the Good Samaritan’s vehicle has positive ground, or your vehicle has an alternator and the GS’s vehicle has a generator. Please note however, that if either vehicle has an electronic ignition system or is an alternatively fueled vehicle, the use of jumper cables may cause damage.
1. Find a car to serve as the boosting car. Park the two cars — the dead car and the boosting car — close to one another, making sure that they’re NOT touching each other. Make sure both cars’ engines are turned off, and both cars are in park or neutral. Engage both parking brakes as well.
2. Take out your jumper cables. It’s a good idea to buy a set of jumper cables and keep them in the trunk of your vehicle.
3. Attach one of the red clips to the positive terminal of your battery. It has “POS” or “+” written on it and it is larger than the negative terminal.
4. Attach the other red clip to the positive terminal of the other car.
5. Attach one of the black clips to the negative terminal of the other battery.
6. Attach the last black clip to an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn’t near the battery. (Use one of the metal struts that holds the hood open.)
7. Start the Good Samaritan’s vehicle and let the engine run for a few minutes.
8. Attempt to start your vehicle. If your vehicle fails to start, make sure the cables are connected properly and have the working vehicle run his/her engine for at least five minutes. Attempt to start your engine once again. If this process doesn’t work, the dead car’s problem may not be with the battery. That’s when it’s time to call a tow truck or roadside service provider.