It's first thing in the morning and you’re already late for work. You hop in your car, turn the key to start it and...nothing.
The worst! You panic as you try to figure out what to do first: call someone--your boss, AAA, the Quick Lube who changed your oil two months ago...
We’re instead going to turn this panic into power and armor you with knowledge that will 1. keep you calm and 2. get you back on the road as soon as possible.
Your first step is to troubleshoot. And the best part is you can do this yourself. It is easier than you may think!
When you turn the key in the ignition, does the engine crank (try to start)? Do the lights and radio come on? Do you hear a “clicking” noise? Or, does nothing happen at all (you might as well not even be trying here)?
Can you remember the last time the battery was replaced? You may simply need a new battery.
Or maybe you left your lights on overnight.
If this is the case then jumpstarting your car is definitely worth your time and effort. You'll save yourself a tow and be able to get yourself to an auto mechanic near you ASAP.
To jumpstart your car, you’ll need to have jumper cables in hand. You can get these from a nearby auto parts store if you don’t already have some.
Wave down another motorist and ask if they’re able to help with jumpstarting your car. Park the two vehicles next to each other so that the jumper cables can reach both batteries.
Now it’s important to remember, “safety first.” You will be dealing with electricity and need to be cautious to avoid shock or injury. Here’s what to watch out for:
Corrosion. In a case like this, you'll want to clean the corrosion from the battery terminal in order for it to offer a good enough electrical connection. Sometimes your car will start simply after a good cleaning.
The battery terminal connection. Wiggle the battery cables, are they loose? If a cable is loose, tighten it and then try starting the car. If it still won't start, move on to jumpstarting it.
Important:When any electrical connection is happening, don’t let the jumper cables touch each other! It will create a spark!
Basic steps to jumpstarting a vehicle:
Begin with both vehicles off.
Attach one of the positive (red) jumper cables to the positive terminal of the dead battery. Then attach the other positive (red) cable to the working battery. Attach the negative (black) cable to the negative end of the dead battery OR to the body of the vehicle. Last, attach the other negative (black) cable to the negative terminal of the working battery.
Start the vehicle with the working battery.
After a few seconds, start the other vehicle.
Disconnect the black cables first, then the red ones, while making sure the cables don’t touch each other--it will create a spark!
Next, drive your vehicle for 10-15 minutes to recharge the battery before turning the car off again. This may be a good time to bring it to your auto mechanic or if you’re confident you’ve solved the problem, it’s ok to turn your vehicle off after about 15 minutes of driving.
If you end up replacing a dead battery on your own, please make sure to recycle the dead battery!
If you continue to experience issues you will need to bring your car into the shop for further diagnosis. Other issues such as the alternator, starter or more could be causing the battery to drain.
We hope this helps! Call us with any questions! 970-484-7556
We want you to feel empowered about your vehicle and that is why we believe it’s our job to educate you on how your vehicle works. Much stuff is best left to the pros, however the more you know, the more comfortable you will feel. And so that is why this is what we are all about: honest, easy, reliable, friendly and helpful auto repair. Contact the experts at Community Auto today to schedule your vehicle for service.