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How To Start a Car With a Dead Battery in 8 Steps

Having trouble getting a car to start is something we all face from time to time. Most of the time the culprit is a flat or dead battery. If you need to start your car without charging the car battery beforehand, you can do this by jump starting the car.

Below, we answer the question of, can a car battery be too dead to jump start? We’ll also show you how to start a car with a flat battery, and go through the equipment you’ll need to do so. 

How To Start a Car With a Dead Battery in 8 Simple Steps

To know how to start a car with a flat battery, you only need two things - a set of jumper cables and another car to help you out. If you don’t already own jumper cables, these are inexpensive and well worth picking up. For safety reasons, be sure to not let any of the jumper cable clamps touch each other during jump starting. This can cause sparks that can ignite flammable gasses.

1. Find a Suitable Support Vehicle

The first step in starting your car is to find another vehicle that can start and run on its own. This can be your second car, a helpful neighbour’s or even a good Samaritan if you are stranded away from home.

2. Prepare Both Vehicles

The second step is to prepare both cars ready to jump start your flat battery. Depending on where the batteries are, you’ll want to open the bonnet or boot of both cars and drive them close enough together without them touching. This way you won’t have to worry about the jumper cables not reaching far enough.

Next, make sure both cars are in neutral or park, have their handbrakes on and the ignition turned off.

3. Connect the Positive Cables

Once the cars are close enough together and both batteries are visible, you’ll just need to connect them together.

Take the positive jumper cable (usually a red colour, or marked with a plus sign) and connect it to the positive terminal on the car with the flat battery. Then, take the other end of the positive cable and connect it to the positive terminal on the support battery.

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4. Connect the Negative Cables

Once the positive cables have been connected, you now need to connect the negative cables. These are usually black in colour and have a minus sign marked on them. First, connect the negative cable to the negative terminal on the support battery. Once this is done, connect the other end of the cable to an earthing point on the car with the flat battery.

This needs to be an unpainted piece of metal on either the chassis or engine, far away from the flat battery or any fuel lines. Don’t connect this end to the negative terminal on the flat battery as this can cause sparks.

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5. Start the Support Vehicle

Once all the cables are connected, you can start the engine on the support vehicle and let it run for a couple of minutes. This will start to charge the flat battery in the other vehicle.

6. Start the Car With the Flat Battery

Now that your support vehicle has been running for a while, you should have enough charge to start the car with the flat battery. If you are still struggling to start the car, try leaving the other car running for a bit longer and increasing the RPM of the engine to help speed things along.

7. Disconnect the Jumper Cables

With your car now started, you can disconnect the jumper cables. This needs to be done in the reverse order that they were connected. It’s best to leave your car running while you do this to keep charging the battery.

8. Drive Your Car for at Least 20 Minutes

To help make sure your battery has enough charge, we recommend that you take a quick 20 minute drive to charge the battery. If you run into a flat battery again the next day, or can’t jump start your car at all, this could mean your battery is dead and needs replacing. 

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