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How To Jumpstart a Car

How To Jumpstart a Car

Have you ever tried to start your car on a cold Canadian morning to the tune of silence, a slow groan, or a tick, tick, tick? You probably recognize these sounds as the symptoms of a dead battery. Before you can think about why this has happened, however, you will want to think about "what can I do to fix this." Luckily, if you have the right equipment and a little bit of know-how, you might still be able to get to work on time, get the kids to school, or continue with your day as planned. Usually a simple boost will do the trick, and depending on what caused your battery to fail, will be the end of the problem. Here's a short primer on why your battery may have failed, how to get on the road again, and what steps to take once you get started.

 

Why Car Batteries Fail in Winter

 

Several factors play a role in cold-weather battery failure. The problem actually begins during the summer. Warm temperatures speed up the evaporation of the battery's electrolytes as well as corrosion of its internal plates and reduce the battery's output. Add in the fact that cold weather thickens your vehicle's oil and makes it that much harder to turn the motor over, and it's easy to see why there might be a problem. Typically, a healthy battery has enough juice to overcome these factors.

 

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Getting Your Vehicle Started

If you don't have a roadside assistance plan, or can't wait for the cavalry to arrive, then a jumpstart is in order. For this, you'll need a set of jumper cables and another vehicle to supply power.

Step One - Start by popping your car's hood, then identify the battery. Be aware that many modern vehicles have plastic covers over the engine and its components, so you may need to poke around a little.

Step Two - Assuming the other vehicle is in position and running, connect one set of the jumper cables to your car - red to the positive terminal (indicated by a plus sign), and black to the negative terminal (indicated by a minus sign). Never let the red and black clamps touch once they're connected to a battery. Now repeat the process on the vehicle providing the boost.

Step Three - Turn off the lights, radio, and climate control systems in both vehicles.

Step Four - Wait ten seconds, then crank the motor. If your engine cranks slowly, or you hear a ticking sound, wait three to five minutes before the next attempt. This will give your battery a chance to build up enough charge to get you going. Once your car starts, remove the cables (negative clamp first), and let the car warm up before driving.

 

Why Your Battery May Have Failed and What To Do About It

 

If you left a light or some other power draw on while the car was off, you might be just fine. The car's alternator will gradually restore the battery's charge as you drive. If that's not the case, however, a failing battery or electrical system component may have caused the problem, and you should seek professional help as soon as possible.

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