Car Care Made Easy
Home   |   Articles   |   Product Reviews   |   DVD   |   Book   |   Links   |   About   |   Contact

TAKE ME HOME
If you've found this article useful, you might like to take a look at my book or DVD.

 


  How to jumpstart a car (jump leads and jump pack)


In this aricle: Find out the common causes of a flat battery, how to jump start your car using jump leads or a jump pack

On this page: Flat battery causes | What to buy | Using jump leads | Using a jump pack


First, a little bit of background...

Compared to other parts of the car, the lifetime of a battery is relatively short. Usually around five years depending on the types of journey you make, how often you use the car and even factors like the weather. To understand how you can help prolong the life of the battery and avoid having to jump start your car, take a look at these common causes of a flat battery.

Common causes of a flat battery...

SHORT JOURNEYS: Starting the car takes a lot of power from the battery and on a short journey there may not be enough time to recharge and replace this power. Frequent short trips may eventually leave the battery without enough power to start the car.

LACK OF USE: Even when parked, systems like the alarm and immobiliser will draw a small amount of power and over time can run the battery down.

THE WRONG BATTERY: If the battery has been replaced with one that’s less powerful than specified by the manufacturer it can go flat very quickly.

COLD WEATHER: Winter is the busiest time of year for breakdown services and the biggest cause of call outs is flat batteries. Cold weather slows down the chemical reactions in the battery, reducing its power. Winter is also when you’re likely to be putting it under the greatest strain, running electrical systems such as the heater, the lights and windscreen wipers.

LEAVING THE HEADLIGHTS ON: The headlights draw a large amount of power and will flatten the battery very quickly if the car isn’t running. Always leave the lights switched off until you have started the car.

FAULTY CHARGING SYSTEM: The main part of the charging system is the alternator. It looks like a large motor and is driven by a belt attached to the engine. If the alternator is faulty, the battery isn’t charged properly and will eventually go flat. If your battery does fail unexpectedly, ask for the alternator to be checked when the battery is replaced or you could soon end up with another flat battery.

WHAT TO BUY: Jump leads vs jump pack

To jump start a car from another you’ll need a set of jump leads. Jump leads are simply one red and one black cable with clips at either end to grip the battery terminals.

The difference between cheap and expensive jump leads is usually the power they can handle. A large battery in a car with a big engine will put out a lot of power and could overheat and melt a thin set of jump leads. Invest in the best set you can afford even if you only have a small car, as you might need to jump start from a larger vehicle.

TOP TIP: Check your handbook to make sure it’s safe to jump start your car. Some cars have sensitive electrical systems that may be damaged by jump starting.


Good quality jump lead set

A jump start pack is essentially a portable car battery and comes with leads that you connect straight to the battery. Although more expensive than jump leads, the advantage is that you won’t need to rely on the power source of another car.

Jump packs often have a feature that prevents damage to the electrics if you accidentally connect the leads the wrong way round. Some also come with extras such as a light, a built in tyre inflator or even a household plug socket that can run low powered electrical items such as a laptop.


Jump pack / Portable power pack


HOW TO JUMP START WITH JUMP LEADS

If you’re jump-starting from another vehicle, make sure the batteries are the same voltage. Most cars are 12v, motorbikes 6v and lorries 24v. Don’t attempt to jump start a battery that looks damaged and keep metal objects away from the top of the battery to avoid causing a spark that might trigger an explosion. Once you’ve got the car going, avoid using non-essential electrical systems such as the radio.

TOP TIP: Make sure the two cars are not touching and the jump leads are not near any moving parts in the engine bay.

Step-by-step guide: Click on the images to enlarge

    
Line up cars ready to jump start
Line up the cars:
Check where the batteries are located on both cars, then line them up so the leads reach between the two batteries. Make sure the cars are not touching each other.
Removewitch off both cars
Switch off:
Switch off both vehicles and make sure they are out of gear and the handbrakes are on. (Automatic cars should be placed in ‘PARK’.) Turn off any electric systems like the heater, headlights and radio on both cars.
Connect both positve jump leads
Connect positives:
Connect the red lead to the positive terminal of the good battery. Connect the other end to the positive on the flat battery. Be careful not to touch any body work.
Connect negative jump lead good car
Connect negative (good car):
Take the black lead and connect it to the negative on the good battery.
Connect negative jump lead to flat car
Connect negative (flat car):
Take the other end of the black lead and connect it to a metal bracket on the engine as far from the flat battery as possible. Check both leads are away from any moving parts and the clamps are secure.
Start the cars
Start the cars:
Start the good car and rev it to around 2000 rpm. After a couple of minutes, try starting the car with the flat battery. If the flat car doesn’t start within 10 seconds then stop trying and call for breakdown assistance.
Start the cars
Leave cars connected:
Once the flat car has been started, keep both cars connected and running for up to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the jump leads for overheating. Switch off immediately if they get too hot.
Replace fuse
Switch off:
Switch both cars off & disconnect the leads in the order below. Be careful not to let the leads touch.
1. Negative flat car
2. Negative good car
3. Positive flat car
4. Positive good car


HOW TO JUMP START WITH A JUMP PACK

Don’t attempt to jump start a battery that looks damaged and keep metal objects away from the top of the battery to avoid causing a spark that might trigger an explosion. Once you’ve got the car going, avoid using non-essential electrical systems such as the radio.

Step-by-step guide: Click on the images to enlarge

Line up cars ready to jump start
Connect leads to pack:
If required, connect the jump leads to the power pack. Make sure the unit is charged and has enough power to jump start the car.
Removewitch off both cars
Connect leads to battery:
Connect the positive (red) lead to the positive terminal of the battery. Connect the negative (black) lead to the negative terminal.
Connect both positve jump leads
Precautions:
Make sure the leads are out of the way of any moving parts and are securely connected. Check the jump pack is secure and won’t move when the engine starts.
Removewitch off both cars
Start the car:
Start the car. Remove the leads in reverse order (negative then positive). Be careful not to touch them on the body of the car.

 

© Car Care Made Easy   |   Website Terms & Conditions

Car Care Made Easy on Facebook
Follow Car Care Made Easy on Twitter
Car Care Made Easy Youtube Channel
Car Care Made Easy the Book on Amazon.co.uk


SHAMELESS PLUG



Read a review