How to Use Jumper Cables

It’s just terrible when the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere; not a towing service in sight, and if there’s no phone on hand, no way to call for help. But should another car with a fully-charged battery stop by, there might be hope yet if one knows how to use jumper cables.

The function of jumper cables is to start up a car or any vehicle whose battery has gone dead. This is done by attaching one end the jumper cables to the dead battery and their other end to another car’s fully-charged battery. It is important to do this properly and in the correct order to prevent sparks from flying and so that one does not get electrocuted. The jumper cables should also be disconnected in the proper order afterwards.

Before trying how to use jumper cables, one should first find out whether their car really does need one. If one turns the key and the car clicks but doesn’t start, the battery is dead and jumper cables would definitely be necessary. But if the car at least makes starting noises and there is otherwise nothing wrong with its electrical devices like the radio and the lights, then nothing is wrong with the battery and the problem must lie elsewhere. The jumper cables would then be useless in this case.

To use the jumper cables, they must be unraveled to make them straight. There are two clips, a red and a black one, on each end of the cables. The car with the fully-charged battery (the “Jumper” car) should be parked next to the car with the dead battery (the “Dead” car). One of the red jumper cable clips is attached to the positive terminal (+) of the Dead car’s battery, and the other red clip is attached to the positive terminal of the Jumper car’s battery. The clips should be attached to the metal part of the terminals.

Next, one of the jumper cables’ black clips is attached to the Jumper battery’s negative terminal (-). The other black clip is then “grounded” or attached to the Dead car’s engine block. It should be clipped to any metal part of the engine. There might be a bit of sparking, but one shouldn’t get shocked as long as they are not touching any of the metal parts. In attempting how to use jumper cables, one should remember to keep a safe distance from the batteries during charging.

The Jumper car is started and allowed to run for some minutes in order to charge the dead battery. Once it has been recharged, the Dead car should finally be able to start. The jumper cables should then be disconnected in reverse order, starting with the black clip on the engine block, followed by the black clip on the Jumper battery, the red clip beside it and finally, the red clip on the previously-dead battery. The formerly-Dead car should also be driven around for about 20 to 30 minutes after being jump-started to charge the battery anew.

When taking a very long drive, one should always be prepared for any emergency. One never knows when their car might go dead again and strand them on an isolated road. It’s always a good idea to pack jumper cables in the trunk just in case. If such a situation does arise, one would only have to look to a friendly passing motorist and knowledge of how to use jumper cables to see them through.

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