Do You Call For Help if You Need a Jump?

close-up of a car battery being jump started

Get Your Motor Going

What is a ‘jump start’? What does that mean? The Free Dictionary online describes this as, “to get someone going or functioning.” It could mean waking somebody up a little earlier than is normal to ‘jump start’ their day or arriving at work earlier than required to ‘jump start’ your day before it gets hectic. 

When it comes to cars, the term jump start is referring to a dead battery. We all know that if the battery in your car is dead, you’re not going anywhere, right? So, you need someone to ‘jump start’ your car, typically using their own battery and jumper cables. Well, how do you jump start a car?

You can always call a wrecker service to come to jump start your car, but that isn’t always possible. Fortunately, with some instructions, you can do your own jump start with the help of another person’s car and jumper cables, then follow these steps: 

  • Place the 2 vehicles grill to grill or side-by-side. 
  • Set the emergency brake on both cars.
  • Open the hood on both cars and remove any battery covers. 
  • Identify the negative and positive battery terminals and clean any corrosion off with a wire brush.
  • Connect one battery cable red clamp to the dead battery’s positive post.
  • Connect the other battery cable red clamp to the good battery’s positive post.
  • Connect one black clamp to the good battery’s negative post.
  • Connect the other black clamp to an unpainted metal surface of the dead battery car.
  • Start the engine of the good battery car and let it run for a few minutes. 
  • Then attempt to start the dead battery engine.

Why is my car not starting with a jump start? 

If the dead battery car still didn’t start, you’ll need to troubleshoot to find out why.  

  • Is there a clicking noise as you try to start the car?  That could indicate a bad starter.
  • Is the electrical system working, like the headlights or radio? If not, that may indicate you need a new battery, or a fuse is blown, or the ignition switch has gone out. 

If you aren’t experiencing any of those two things, try to start the car again with the jump after letting the good battery car run a little longer. The dead battery may need more power from the dead battery before the jump start takes.

Once my car battery dies, do I have to get a new battery?

Do you need a new car battery or can you charge it? When a battery dies, it doesn’t automatically mean you need a replacement battery. If the jump start doesn’t work, take your car to a mechanic (you’ll have to have it towed at this point). They can inspect the battery and all things electrical and then advise you of what the problem is and the best solution, which may be replacing the battery.

 Why should I call someone to jump start my car?

Jump starting a car isn’t a one-person job for a non-mechanic. There are dangers in jump starting a car and having a 2nd person to help you with the process is always recommended.  This is especially true of newer cars that have computers. 

How is jump starting a car dangerous?

What begins as a well-meaning jump start can lead to a power surge that could damage the onboard computers. That can affect the safety systems and even damage the engine, all resulting in expensive repairs.

What do I do if I need a jump start?

And is a jump start an emergency? Well, if you’re trying to leave for work and the battery is dead, then it will seem like an emergency to you! So, do I call 911 if my car won’t start? No, it isn’t that kind of an emergency, unless you’re on a train track, your car dies, and the train is coming. But don’t wait to call 911, get out of the car and get to a safe area away from the track. 

Otherwise, is needing a jump start an emergency worthy of calling 911? Absolutely not! Call your auto club service, a family member, a friend, or a local garage. If you’re in an area you’re comfortable and familiar with, you can ask somebody close to you for help. 

close-up of a mechanic working on a car battery

Closing Thoughts

It is important to make sure your battery is in good condition. With each oil change, ask the technicians to check the battery. Most of them will tell you if they see issues with the battery and make any suggestions. 

Once your battery has had to have a jump start, you should have the battery checked by a mechanic or an auto parts store. It may have been caused by leaving the headlights on, and in that case, it’s probably fine. But it may something more detailed within the car’s electrical system or the battery may be nearing its end of service.