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How Do I Jump-Start My Car Safely?

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How to Jump-Start Your Car Safely in San Diego, CA

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When your car battery dies and leaves you stranded, you don’t need to call a tow truck or roadside assistance to get back on the road. As long as you or a good Samaritan has a set of jumper cables, you can most likely get your car started without any difficulty and be on your way. The insurance experts from Altra Insurance Services, a premier insurance agency providing auto insurance San Diego drivers rely on, offer these tips for how to jump-start your car without damaging its electrical system.

Make Sure It’s the Battery

Before jump-starting a car, make sure it’s actually the battery that’s dead. If you turn the key and the engine cranks, it’s not the battery. It’s usually a dead battery when you turn the ignition and the car does nothing at all. You may also notice the dome light is dim or completely out when the door is open. Next, make sure the terminal posts on the batteries in each car are free of corrosion.

Connect the Jumper Cables

To jump-start the car, first make sure both cars are off. Connect the end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the positive terminal post on the dead battery and the other end to the positive terminal on the other car’s battery. Then connect the black (negative) cable to a clean, unpainted metal surface (that isn’t close to the battery) under the hood of the dead car. The other end should be connected to the negative post on the good battery. Some vehicles have a cover over the battery, but there should be an icon designating the battery’s location.

Start the Vehicles in Order

Once the jumper cables are attached correctly, it’s time to start the car with the good battery. Let the car run for about five minutes with the cables attached to both vehicles, then try to start the dead car. If the engine doesn’t turn over, you can try moving the negative cable attached to the unpainted surface for better contact. You can also try racing the engine of the good car a bit to help the alternator deliver higher amperage to the dead battery. If the lights come on in the dead car and you can hear the engine turning over but it still won’t start, the problem may be a bad starter. When the car starts, disconnect the cables in reverse order from how they were connected.

Important Cautions

Jump-starting a car is fairly easy, but there are a few mistakes you need to avoid. Never let the negative and positive cable clamps touch each other if the ends are connected to a battery, as this could cause sparks and a short in one of the vehicles. Make sure one end of the negative black cable is attached to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the hood of the disabled vehicle. It should never be connected to the negative terminal on the dead battery, as this can cause an explosion.

It’s never fun to come out to a car with a dead battery, and neither is getting into a car accident without having adequate car insurance. If you’re looking for affordable, reliable auto insurance, look to the professionals at Altra Insurance Services. We can cover many of your insurance needs, including motorcycle, homeowners, renters, and business insurance. San Diego residents should call one of our friendly agents at (800) 719-9972 for a free quote.

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