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How to Boost Your Car Battery

There’s nothing worse than turning your key and having your car do nothing.

While there are a few reasons why your engine may not start, the most likely culprit is your car’s battery.

Boosting your car is a very straightforward task that requires only booster cables and a running car to help you out. However, following the proper steps is crucial to ensure your vehicle is boosted properly and safely.

Hopefully, you are reading this article out of curiosity but, if you are currently stranded with a dead battery, here the steps you need to follow to get your car running and on the road again:

How Can I Tell If My Car Battery is Dead?

Just because your car won’t start doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an issue with your battery – although this is commonly the problem.

You can bet your battery is drained if you notice any of the following:

  • Your engine cranks but won’t start. If your engine cranks but won’t start when you turn the key, it is likely a battery issue (even though it could be a starter issue as well).
  • You turn the key and nothing happens – and the lights don’t come on. When you can’t even get the lights to turn on your car, you know it’s a charging issue. Most likely it’s your battery but in some cases, it could be your alternator.

Even though these signs could indicate bigger problems, your first course of action should be to give your battery a boost! 

What Equipment Do I Need to Boost My Car?

You really only need two things in order to boost the battery in your car: jump cables and a friend.

As a precaution, you should always keep a set of jumper cables in your car at all times. While finding a helpful stranger willing to help you out is easy, getting your hands on booster cables is a crapshoot if you don’t already have any.

(Plus, with jumper cables on hand, you may someday be that helpful and willing stranger!)

If you want to avoid the middleman and give yourself a boost, you may consider buying a booster pack for your car. This handy device, also known as a jump starter, is a portable battery booster.

Otherwise, grab your cables and a friend and get ready to give your batter a boost!

Safety First!

Before you start hooking up cables, it’s important to first take these safety factors into consideration:

  • Sparks. Even a dead battery can still have some charge so there is always the potential for a shortage or spark if the cables aren’t handled properly. Having a pair of safety glasses in your vehicle isn’t a bad idea.
  • Damage. Incorrectly connecting cables can destroy or cause damage to the electronics in your car. Be sure to follow instructions carefully when connecting.
  • Acid. Car batteries house a corrosive combination of acid and water in order to store electricity. Be careful when handling any part of your battery, avoiding powder-like white or light green residues around the terminals.

Now that you know what to look out for, it’s time to give your car a boost! Before you follow the next steps, ensure that both your (dead) vehicle and the vehicle helping you out (the donor) are both turned off.

How to Boost Your Car Battery

Just to be clear on terminology:

  • Dead = the car with the dead battery
  • Donor = the running car that is helping you out

Also, make sure you can clearly differentiate the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals on your car’s battery. Clear off any debris if they are hard to see.

Lastly, check to see where the battery is located in each car. Depending on the length of your jumper cables, you may have to position the donor car at a certain angle in order to be able to connect the two batteries.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Step 1: Connect the Red Cable to the Dead +

Take one end of the red jumper cable and clamp it to the positive terminal of the dead battery.

Step 2: Connect the Red Cable to the Donor +

Attach the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the donor car’s battery.

Step 3: Connect the Black Cable to the Donor –

Now take the black cable and attach it to the negative terminal of the donor car.

Step 4: Connect the Black Cable to the Dead Car

Attach the other end of the black cable to an unpainted piece of metal on the dead car. Do not attach this clamp to the dead car battery’s negative terminal. This serves as a grounding connection.

Step 5: Start the Donor Vehicle Before Starting the Dead Vehicle

Which just makes sense – you want to gear up the donor battery first so the dead battery can leech the charge.

What Happens Next?

If all goes well, the dead car should start immediately. If it doesn’t, let it charge up for a few minutes before turning the key again and holding it for a couple of seconds (you may have to do this a couple of times).

Once you get your car running, it’s important to let it run and even drive around to get the battery charged up again. Even though batteries have a lifespan of only 3-5 years, your alternator charges your battery as you’re driving.

If your battery has exceeded its lifespan, you should have it checked out even though it charged up. You don’t want a repeat incidence in the near future.

Worst-case scenario: The boost doesn’t work and your can won’t start. There are many issues that can cause this to happen, such as the alternator, starter or a completely dead battery

If this is the case, it’s best to have your vehicle towed to a professional mechanic to properly diagnose the issue.

Our professional team of technicians at Park Muffler is on hand to help you with all of your battery needs!

If it’s time for a new battery, or you merely want to check the life of your battery, get in touch with us today!

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