Jack Dreyer | Thursday 5th May 2022 9:30am
While car batteries today are usually very reliable, they are by no means invincible.
As many of us will know, leaving your lights on can result in a flat battery pretty quickly, which is never ideal. Luckily, though, all you need is a quality set of jump leads and some know-how to get you back on the road in no time at all
But what if you don’t have access to jump leads? What then? Read on to find out exactly what to do if you’re missing the tools to restart your car.
How to jump-start your car with jump leads
Firstly, let’s look at how you would usually jump-start a vehicle if you had all the correct equipment present.
To jump-start your car the ‘traditional’ way, you’ll need another car. Make sure your vehicle and theirs are close enough for the leads to reach — but not touching.
For safety purposes, it is advised that you turn off the ignition and electrical equipment on both cars while ensuring the gearstick is in neutral and the handbrake is on. Open up both bonnets and use the hood strut to keep them open. Now for the complicated part.
How to connect jump-start leads
Take the red jump lead and connect one end of it to the positive terminal on the flat battery. The other end should be connected to the positive terminal on the ‘boosting’ battery (the battery giving your car some help!).
Next, take the black jump lead and connect one end to the negative terminal of the boosting battery.
The other end of the black jump lead should be connected to either a metal bolt or a bracket on the engine block of the car that needs to be restarted. Make sure that the lead is a good distance away from the battery itself, here.
Warning: This can be a dangerous process, so it is essential that the lead does not touch any vehicle metal or any moving parts in either engine. If you aren’t confident with navigating the different parts of a car battery, read another of our useful blogs here.
After waiting three minutes for the voltages on both batteries to equalise, the engine of the booster vehicle can be started. Once started, let the engine run at a fast idle speed. In the meantime, start the engine of the flat-battery car and check everything is running properly.
How to check your car has jump-started correctly
If the engine on the flat-battery car appears to be running fine, then switch off the engine of the boosting vehicle. Now, it is worth checking that your newly jump-started car is capable of running ok on its own. So, switch on the air con or heater, the lights, the heated rear window, and any other electrical parts. This will prevent any voltage surges from happening.
What to do after your car has been jump-started?
If all is well, the jump leads can be disconnected. It is important to disconnect your jump leads in reverse order to how they were connected — essentially reversing the steps. That means you take off the black then the red, one end at a time.
After the leads are successfully detached and the bonnets are down, you should be able to drive away. It will take a little while for the alternator to fully charge up the battery now it has been jump-started, so it is advised that you keep the engine running for some time afterwards by going for a drive and trying not to stall.
If your battery consistently fails to hold charge, you may have a more serious problem. In which case, it is worth booking in for a free battery health check with the experts at Kwik Fit.
How to start your car without jump-start leads
There are two ways in which you can start your car if you don’t have access to jump leads: push-starting and using a ‘jump-start box’.
How to push-start your car
Push-starting, also known as ‘bump-’ or ‘pop-starting’, is a way of starting your car by — you’ve guessed it — pushing it. Instead of using a battery-powered starter motor or gaining power from a booster vehicle, the engine is bumped to life by force.
All you’ll need to do this is a short distance on a flat surface and a good friend or two …
- First of all, have whoever is helping you stand at the rear of the car and get ready to push when required.
- Then get into the driver’s seat and start the ignition. Leave the handbrake on and push the clutch in.
- Next quickly shift to second gear, press the brake, and release the handbrake. Now bring your foot off the brake and have your trusty helpers start to push.
- When you reach 5mph, release the clutch sharply. Don’t worry, the engine may splutter and the car might ‘jump’ but this is a good sign as it shows the engine is engaging.
- If you’re lucky the engine will start. If not, repeat the steps above at a slightly higher speed.
How to use a jump-start box
Another effective way of jump-starting your car without jump leads is by using a jump-start box.
These boxes are essentially mini portable batteries with their own jump leads attached. Jump-start boxes are much safer than jump leads themselves as they have built-in software that prevents harmful voltage spikes from occurring. So how do they work?
- Make sure your jump-start box is fully-charged itself. If it isn’t, you’ll have to wait a while for it to charge.
- Check whether your jump-start box comes with integrated cables. Most should do nowadays, but if not, connect the cables to the correct posts — positive and negative.
- Similarly to actual jump leads, connect the red lead clamp to the positive post of your dead battery. This will be indicated by either a ‘+’ symbol or a red cover.
- Then, connect the black lead clamp to a grounded, unpainted metal surface on the frame of your car.
- Now everything is connected properly, switch on the jump-starter box. After a couple of minutes, start your vehicle. The car should start straight away, but if it doesn't, then wait a few more minutes to give the battery time to charge.
- Once the car has started, you’re good to go! All you have to do is turn off the jump-start box and remove the leads in reverse order and you’ll be on the road in no time.
Hint: Remember to charge your jump-start box after use to avoid being caught short in the future.
And there you have it! Three ways you can jump-start your car — with or without jump leads. If you have any questions about your car’s battery, head over to our battery information page or simply get in touch with the experts at your nearest Kwik Fit.
In the meantime, find out more about how batteries work with another of our blogs.
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