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At some point or another, it’s very likely you’ll get in your car only to find that the battery has died. Learning to jump start a car is just as important as learning how to pump gas. This important skill is invaluable to caring for your own car, but it can also come in handy if you come across someone else who needs a jump.

Before jump starting a car, do a quick check to make sure the battery is indeed the problem. Try starting your car. If the engine clicks or cranks when you turn the ignition, the battery is probably fine and jump starting won’t be the solution. If nothing happens when you turn the ignition, the problem is most likely a dead battery and it’s time to get the jumper cables, which you should keep in your trunk at all times.

Once you find a person who is willing to lend a helping hand, park the working car so the hood is close to the hood of the car with the bad battery. Turn both cars off.

Dig your jumper cables out of the trunk. Each end has a red clamp and a black clamp. Red is positive and black is negative. The hardest part of this task is simply remembering which color is which. Come up with a mnemonic device or memory game to help you remember which color correlates to which charge. Think of red as the sun, a positive force of life; think of black as the absence of light or death, both negative things. The good news is that even if you get the charges wrong, you won’t electrocute yourself; but you may get a light zap.

The first step is to attach a red/positive clamp to the positive terminal on the dead battery. Attach the other side’s red/positive clamp to the positive terminal of the working battery.

Staying by the working battery, attach the black/negative clamp to the negative terminal of that battery. Take the last remaining black/negative clamp and attach it to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the hood of the stalled car (such as on the engine block). If you attach it to the battery terminal, sparks may fly.

Start the engine of the working car and let it run for a few minutes. You can then try starting the stalled car. It may take a few tries, but it should start with minimal fuss. With both cars running, remove the cables in the reverse order in which you attached them.

Thank the person who helped you jump your car and you can be on your way. Keep your car running for at least 30 minutes to give the battery time to recharge. If possible, go directly to a dealership or auto shop to buy a new battery. And that’s all there is to it!

You take care of your car every day, we take care of your car during critical times. Call Loftis & Wetzel Corporation at (580) 363-3434 for more information on Oklahoma City auto insurance.

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