- First thing's first: Make sure the battery is the problem. The best way to see if your battery is really dead (and there's not something else going on) is to check the headlights. Are they dim or bright? If they are dim, it's likely your battery is the culprit. If your headlights are bright, you do not have a dead battery and a jump start will not help.
- Find out where your car's battery is. There's no set place for a battery, so you will have to inspect your own car and the car of the nice person who will let you use their car. Once you find the battery, try to locate the positive and negative terminals. (I will demonstrate how to find these. We will need a flashlight for this.) The positive terminal will be marked with a plus sign (+) and will usually have a red cable attached on it. The negative terminal will be marked with a minus sign (-) and will usually have a black cable attached to it.
- Inspect the batteries! Look for cracks, leaks, or other damage. If you find any of these things, do not jump start the car. Call a tow truck instead or replace the battery.
- Position the cars so that the batteries are the closest they can be to one another. Turn off everything in both cars – the A/C, radio, fans, etc. Put the parking break on as well as keeping the car in "park."
- Get ready. Put on safety glasses, gloves, and get your jumper cables out and ready to go. Untangle your jumper cables if needed.
- Attach the jumper cables. Your jumper cables should be red and black (well, in my case they are pink, but usually they are red and black):
- Connect one red clamp to the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery.
- Connect the other red clamp to the positive (+) terminal of the good battery.
- Connect one black clamp to the negative (-) terminal of the good battery.
- Connect the other black clamp to a piece of grounded metal on the dead car. You can use any metal (not painted or oily) that is attached to the engine or hood.
- Start the working car. Let it idle for a few minutes. Rev the engine just a little bit above idle for 30 second increments.
- Try to start the dead car. If it starts…YAY! Success! If it doesn't start, make sure you are connected correctly and try again. In the case of my car shown above, the battery was soooo dead that I let the good car run for 45 minutes while attached to my dead car. Then, it FINALLY started. At this point, whatever you do, do NOT turn off your formerly dead car!!! The battery will immediately die again. Keep it on passed instruction #9 and then if you can, drive it around for at least 30 minutes. Driving the car will actually help the battery regain some life and start the next time. If you do all of this and the next time you try to start your battery and it's dead again, that means your battery is no longer holding a charge and needs to be replaced.
- Remove the jumper cables. The easiest way is to do this in the reverse order that you put them on your car. Don't let any cable touch each other! Here is the reverse order:
- Disconnect the black clamp from grounded metal on the formerly dead car.
- Disconnect the black clamp from the negative (-) terminal of the good battery.
- Disconnect the red clamp from the positive (+) terminal of the good battery.
- Disconnect the red clamp from the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery.
Items you will need to pull this off:
- Jumper cables
- A good, working car
- Safety equipment (glasses and gloves)
- Rag (to clean up)
- Wire brush (to clean up if it’s really corroded)
Emergency Kit for Car:
So everyone can totally go the easy way and purchase one of these babies at your local hardware store or automotive store.
From the Manufacturer:
The Deluxe Emergency kit contains enough emergency supplies to sustain 4 people for three days, as recommended by the American Red Cross. Each kit includes 4 water boxes, food supply, 4 emergency ponchos, 4 survival blankets, 4 12-hour lightsticks, 4 pair nitrile gloves, 4 NIOSH N-95 dust maasks, 4 dust masks, pocket tissues, emergency whistle, leather gloves, Multi-Tool, 10yds. Duct Tape, 4 pair goggles, 3 bio-hazard bags, premoistened towlettes, emergency communication plan/contacts, first aid kit that has 107 pieces, Emergency power station 4-function (flashlight, AM/FM radio, siren, cell phone charger), and a backpack. The kit, in a handy backpack, can be stored at home, at school, and at the office.
DIY Emergency Kit for Car:
If you want to pull this off DIY style, here are the BASICS that I believe you should have in your kit. You can adjust this to where you live, what climate you are in, etc. An "Emergency Car Kit" is simple to put together yourself and you can do it by going down to your local Walmart. Try to be as compact as you can with this kit so it STAYS in your car and you are not tempted to take it out to make more room.
- You will need a cute bag or box to keep it in. (Like how that's number 1?)
- If you live somewhere where it snows, your first item of business should be a small bag of kitty litter. You can throw this under your tires to get you out of snow/ice.
- Jumper cables.
- Fix-a-Flat – this is great! It's a can of air that won't permanently fix your tire, but might get you to a place that's less dangerous if you are stuck with a flat tire.
- Hand warmers- these are AWESOME at keeping your hands warm if you are out in the cold trying to change a tire, jumpstart a car, or just waiting for help.
- Heated emergency blanket. You can find these in the "camping" section.
- Flashlight (with extra batteries) Tip – put the batteries in backwards so it doesn't turn on by itself and waste battery life. If you can, get a camping flashlight that also has a solid and flashing light that you can use to get help.
- Rain coat (the cheapy, folded ones you can get for $1)
- Cell phone charger/adapter for the car.
- A small first aid kit to any boo boos.
- A couple bottles of water.
- A couple energy/granola bars.
- Paper towels or rags.
- And if you are in the cold areas again, throw in an ice-scraper and tire chains.
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