If you’ve ever experienced that awful feeling and sound of trying to start your vehicle and the engine refuses to turn over, then the following information may prove invaluable.
Please note sometimes engine failure may be symptomatic of a more serious problem, but if your battery is just flat there’s several ways to get it going again. The following techniques apply to all new and used cars, from private vehicles to dealership cars driven on trade plates, and should all hopefully get you moving again and back on the road.
1. Jump leads
This is easily the most common method to get your car started, but you will of course need access to another vehicle and a set of jump cables (if you don’t have any, they are quite cheap and can be purchased from any good garage or motor trade outlet).
Performing the jump start also means you must understand the safety risks when handling car batteries – it’s all too easy to get an electric shock if you don’t know what you’re doing! Make sure both batteries are damage-free and then remove any metal jewellery. Make sure that both cars have all systems turned off, and are parked as close together as possible. Identify each batteries positive and negative terminal and attach the leads in this order:
a) attach red jump lead to positive terminal on flat battery
b) attach red jump lead to positive terminal on live battery
c) attach black jump lead to negative terminal on live battery
d) attach black jump lead to unpainted metal (not battery!) in “flat” car to earth it, then start the other vehicle and let it run for several minutes.
e) start your car – if it works, leave the vehicle running while connected for a few minutes, then disconnect the leads in the opposite order to how they were attached. It’s important to leave both cars running while you do this!
Now make sure to drive the car for around 20-30 minutes to charge the battery otherwise the problem can recur.
2. Bump start
An older method you can try if there’s no second vehicle to hand, would be a bump start. It’s important that you do not attempt this if you’re on your own, as you also need another person to either sit in the driver’s seat or help push. Especially on a steep hill, otherwise you could end up with an expensive insurance policy claim if you lose control of the vehicle!
You should turn the ignition on, then put the clutch down and put the car into 2nd gear, then push or roll the car downhill until it reaches around 10 mph, then slowly lift the clutch and ideally the car should restart!
If it doesn’t, then try again, otherwise seek help from a professional.
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3. Portable battery pack
A third option is to purchase a portable battery for around £30-50. You can use this to jump start your car in a similar way to option 1. You will need to keep the battery park charged, and closely follow the instructions supplied for attaching the leads.
In all cases, once your car is running again, please drive for plenty of time to let the battery regain a good charge.