Everything You Need To Know About Using A Jump Starter On Your Car

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We face so many small daily inconveniences, like when we’re rushing out the door and our clothing catches on the doorknob or when we have a hot date and they ghost. But none of that compares to one of the biggest inconveniences of all: a dead car battery.  Contrary to Blanche DuBois’s famous line, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” I prefer not to rely on strangers for help. Maybe I’ve watched too much true crime or internalized what my family told me in the era of “stranger danger.” Either way, when it comes to jump-starting my dead battery, if I don’t have a trusted individual available, the last thing I want to do is ask a stranger for help. That’s why I always keep my jump starter in my car.

A jump starter is a portable device that you can use in place of another car to jump-start your battery. If you like to be independent in the face of a car emergency, definitely invest in one.

But before you run to the nearest auto parts store and grab a jump starter, here are some basics to keep in mind. 

First, safety is the most important. Check the holiest of vehicular literature: the owner’s manual. Some car makers don’t allow jump-starts. Your jump starter’s voltage ought to equal your car battery’s voltage. The industry average is 12.0 volts. 

Next, check that everything’s in order. turn everything off in the car. The positive clamp is red, and the negative is black. Ensure that the battery didn’t corrode. If you find corrosion, make sure that you remove it. Also, make sure that the clamps connect. If the temperature outside is below freezing, then your battery could be frozen (a tell-tale sign is bulging on one or both sides). If this is the case, don’t attempt to jump your vehicle.

Also, make sure that you read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them exactly as written. Once you have everything set, it’s time to power up.

First, charge the jump starter. Jump starters always have some power, but you need to fully charge them before you use them. A standard household outlet should do the trick. 

Next, connect the cables. With the car and the jump starter off, attach the jump starter directly to the battery. Clamp the red cable to the positive (+) terminal on the battery and the black cable to the negative (-) terminal. If you’re worried that you’ve connected it incorrectly, remember that many starters have a light or sound a tone to alert you to this issue. 

Then, focus on the engine.

Position the jump starter so that it isn’t in contact with any moving engine parts that’ll get going once it starts.

Once you’ve connected everything and are ready to start the car, turn on the jump starter. Crank your vehicle until it starts. 

Then, unfasten the jump starter with the engine running, turn off the power switch, and disconnect the cables from the battery terminals. 

Finally, leave your engine running for a bit. You should be on your way soon! Once you get your car running, consider visiting your local auto parts store. Many auto shops check the battery for free, so you can make sure that you won’t have to use your jump starter anytime soon. 

Nostalgia may hit and compel you to charge your jump starter afterwards, optimally for 12 to 24 hours. Even if nostalgia doesn’t call, do this anyway. 

Here are some last tidbits of advice: the time it takes to jump start your car varies on a few factors. How dead is your battery? How cold is it out? Is it raining or going to rain soon? Although it would suck to jump off in the rain, rest assured that a measly 12.0 volts isn’t likely to give you a shock to your system. Lastly, the most important tip is to not smoke, as it could cause an explosion.

Jump starters are a great purchase. You can find them at auto parts stores, big box retailers, or online. Personally, I don’t like relying on others, which can be dangerous for anyone. And, if all else fails, there’s always roadside assistance.

Featured Photo by Daniel @ bestjumpstarterreview.com on Unsplash.



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