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Top tips: how to jump-start your car

With the winter months drawing closer and the weather almost certainly taking a turn for the colder, the threat of flat batteries looms. There’s nothing worse than dragging yourself out of bed into a freezing car on a winter’s morning, only to find that the thing won’t start. 

When this is the case, it certainly pays to know how to jump-start your car, however, many motorists simply don’t know where to start. To help, we’ve put together some effective top tips on jump-starting your car whatever the weather.

Jump starting a car with jump leads

This is the most common means of getting your vehicle going again, while it’s also the most effective too. To jump-start a car using jump leads, you’ll need: 

  • A pair of good quality jump leads
  • A second vehicle with a battery that’s fully charged
  • Your vehicle owners manual, check this first to familiarise yourself and be safe
  • Thoroughly check the vehicle for any signs of damage to the batteries 
  • Ensure nothing metal touches the battery terminals and remove any metal jewellery

Checklist for jump-starting your car

Now that you’re aware of everything that you’ll need to jump-start your car, it’s time to tick off a checklist on the steps you’ll need to take: 

  • Ensure that any electrical devices or functions in the vehicle are switched off, this includes the likes of the radio, sat-nav and lights
  • If it’s possible to do so, lower the driver’s side window
  • Without the vehicles touching, park the second vehicle with the fully charged battery as close to the primary vehicle as possible 
  • Make sure that both vehicles are switched off, remove the keys from the ignition and open both car’s bonnets to expose the battery 
  • Using the red jump lead, attach one end to the positive (+) terminal on the flat battery. The positive terminal usually has a red plastic cap over it and shows the ‘+’ symbol
  • Once you’ve done this, attach the other end of the red jump lead to the positive terminal on the secondary vehicle 
  • Next, attach one end of the black jump lead to the negative terminal (-) on the secondary vehicle 
  • Attach the other end of the black jump lead to a strong earth point on the primary vehicle. A solid and easy-to-reach metal component on the engine is usually the best shout here
  • Once each jump lead is securely attached, start the engine on the secondary vehicle 
  • Let the secondary vehicle run for a minute and attempt to start the primary vehicle with the flat battery. If the vehicle does not start following the first few attempts, allow the secondary vehicle to run longer and try again 
  • If the problem persists, the issue is likely more serious and unrelated to the battery, in which case you’ll need to seek mechanical support from a professional
  • If the car does start, you should leave both vehicles to run for at least five minutes before removing the cables. 

Removing the jump leads

To safely remove the jump leads from the car battery, it’s recommended that you follow these steps: 

  • Switch both vehicles engines off 
  • First, disconnect the black jump lead connected to a metallic earth point on the primary vehicle 
  • Next, disconnect the other end of the black jump lead from the secondary vehicle 
  • Following this, disconnect the red jump lead from the secondary vehicle, then do the same with the other end on the primary vehicle 
  • Once the leads have been fully removed, restart the engine on the primary vehicle to ensure that the battery is running properly 
  • Drive the vehicle in uncongested traffic for at least 30 minutes to aid in recharging the battery

It’s worth noting that this is a temporary measure, for the battery to be fully charged and achieve optimum performance and be deemed fully serviceable you’ll need to use a battery charger for several hours. 

For more advice on everything from travelling abroad to driving safely in winter, explore our blog page.