When The Engine Sputters: How To Use Jumper Cables

Written by Kerri Gaither on April 26, 2019

When The Engine Sputters: How to Use Jumper Cables

It always happens at the moment when you need your car the most: you turn the ignition and hear only a sputter where you should hear the engine running to life.

The problem comes down to a dead battery. The battery of your car starts the engine of the car and keeps it running, as well as the lights and radio. So if you turn the key in the ignition and only hear a sputtering cough with no life in your engine, that’s a sign your battery’s dead. There are a number of reasons your car battery might die. It could be that the headlights or the engine was left running for too long on accident. It happens to the best of drivers at one point or another. However, even extreme cold or hot weather could cause your battery to sputter and die.

That may sound bad, but it’s not usually a death sentence for your car — or even a permanent death sentence for your battery. In most cases, you just need to jumpstart the battery, giving it a jolt so you can carry on with your drive. If you’re near other people, you may be able to find a helpful driver to jumpstart your car for you.

There may, of course, be more serious issues with your battery, which will be evident if jump starting doesn’t work, or if it dies again soon after. It may be that there’s a problem with battery connections or that it’s simply an old battery soon to be no longer usable. Car experts recommend replacing your car battery every three years, lest they become worn down.

Jumpstarting your car is a pretty easy fix if you know what you’re doing, but when dealing with a transfer of energy, you always have to be careful that you know what to do. How do you go about the process of jumpstarting your car? And what could go wrong if you attach or remove the jumper cables incorrectly?  It’s a good idea to learn before you find yourself in that situation. Here’s our helpful guide.

What You’ll Need

What you’ll need to jump start your car is pretty simple: jumper cables and another car. Typically, jumper cables are stored in the trunk of your car or on the floorboard of the backseat. If you don’t have jumper cables, you’ll have to ask the owner of the other car for help, but most drivers should have a pair of jumper cables handy. If there’s no one nearby to help jump start the car, you can use your TowZing app to call a tow truck to jumpstart the car for you. It also may be a good idea to have a pair of rubber gloves for the job.

How to Attach Jumper Cables

So you have everything you need. Now it’s a matter of attaching the jumper cables. Make sure before you start that both cars are in park and that the ignition is turned off. Next, open the hood of your car and look at your battery. Where you see a + or the letters POS, attach one red clip. This is your battery’s positive terminal. The other red clip attaches to the positive terminal of the opposite car’s battery. Attach one black clip to the negative terminal of the opposite car. (The negative terminal of your car battery may also come into play if you need to replace your car battery later on.)

The final clip should be attached to a piece of metal like the metal strut used to hold the car’s hood open. The important thing is for this metal part to be unattached to the batteries. Once you’ve begun attaching the clips, be very careful not to touch them together.

How to Jump Start the Car

This is the work of the other driver. The driver of the opposite car will start their car’s engine. They should give it a few minutes just to help transfer energy from one car to the other. Once that’s done, they’ll shut off their engine and it will be your turn to start your car. If it works, great! Thank your helper and move on. If not, you may need to try again or address a larger issue with the car battery. You’ll want to drive around for a few minutes after disconnecting the jumper cables to make sure it’s still working. The car may not start the next time you try, and that will mean there’s an underlying reason.

How to Disconnect Jumper Cables

Disconnecting jumper cables is much like connecting them but in reverse. First, unclip the black clip attached to the metal rod, and then the black clip attached to the negative terminal. Finally, disconnect the red clips in the opposite order of the way they were installed. Be careful to ensure that the clips don’t touch until every clip is detached.

What Not to Do When Using Jumper Cables

Again, the process of using jumper cables is fairly easy once you know what to do, but should be handled with care. Mishandling jumper cables could lead to shocks or damage to your car. Make sure that your jumper cables are in good condition — not frayed or with any exposed wires. Also make sure to keep a distance, not leaning too far over the battery of either your car or the other driver’s car. While extreme cold weather can damage car batteries, it’s a bad idea to jump start a car if the battery fluids are frozen — this could even lead to an explosion. You’ll need to remove the battery from the car first and allow it to thaw before you jump start it.

If your car won’t start and you’re in need of a jump start, don’t wait for hours for your old towing company. With TowZing’s user-friendly app, you can have a service provider out to help with your automobile solutions, whatever they might be, as soon as possible. Contact us today for more information.