How To Jump Start a Car

How to jump start a car battery
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No need to call a tow truck or a mechanic when your car won’t start because of a dead battery. It’s very easy to jump start your car yourself with a few simple tools and some basic knowledge. You’ll get your car running in no time and it won’t cost a dime!

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to jump start a car along with a short list of the things you’ll need:

Preparation

Things you might need to jump start your car

Before you start, it’s important to make sure you have the following tools and products on hand:

Here’s the only things you’ll need to “get started”, pun intended:

Step-by-Step guide on How to Jump Start a Car

Get your jumper cables and follow these simple steps to jump start your car:

Step 1:

Park the car with the good battery with its battery terminal (usually in the engine compartment) as close as possible to the battery terminal of the car you want to jump start but make sure the cars don’t touch.

Step 2:

Take both car keys out of the ignition.

Step 3:

Open both car hoods. (or wherever their battery is located, check the car manuals) Locate the dead car’s battery and the working car’s battery.

Step 4:

Identify the positive and negative terminals on both batteries. The positive terminal will be red and is typically marked with a “+” sign, the negative terminal will be black and is typically marked with a “-” sign.

Step 5:

Take your jumper cables and make sure that from now on, the clamps don’t touch. Start with attaching one end of the red jumper cable to the positive (red, “+”) terminal of the dead battery, but first make sure that the other end doesn’t touch any metal parts or contacts.

Step 6:

Attach the other end of the red jumper cable to the positive (red, “+”) terminal of the working battery.

Step 7:

Attach one end of the black jumper cable to the negative (black, “-”) terminal of the working battery.

Step 8:

Attach the other end of the black jumper cable to a metal part on the dead car’s engine, such as a bolt or a bracket. Some cars have a ground terminal away from the battery, check your car manual. In any case, choose a metal part that is furthest away from the battery, fuel system components and moving parts like the fan, pulleys and belts. 

CAUTION: Don’t connect the last clamp to the battery terminal directly, because that may cause a spark. This spark might ignite the flammable hydrogen gasses that are formed in the battery while charging/discharging. When the gas ignites, it will cause an explosion which will disperse acid and debris under high pressure everywhere. A dead battery often produces more gas than a good one.

Step 10:

Start the working car and let it run for one or two minutes so the dead battery can charge.

Step 11:

Try to start the car with the dead battery. If it starts, let it run for a few minutes to charge the battery. 

If it doesn’t start, wiggle the cable clamps to make sure all clamps have a good connection.  Allow the dead battery to charge from the other car’s running engine for 5 minutes more and try again.

Still not starting? Try starting with the other car’s engine revving at about 2000 to 2500 RPM. This should do the trick.

If it still won’t start, there’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed like a shorted battery core (needs replacing) or some other electrical or mechanical issue. No jump start will solve this, unfortunately. 

Step 12:

After a few minutes, remove the jumper cables in reverse order: 

  • first remove the black cable from the metal part of the engine or ground terminal 
  • remove the opposite black battery clamp from the good battery terminal
  • remove the red battery clamp from the positive terminal of the working battery
  • remove the opposite red battery clamp from the positive terminal of the dead (or revived) battery 

Great job! Your car should now be running and you can hit the road again. 

It’s important to check your car battery’s health because jumping a car battery might only be a temporary fix. If your car battery got drained because you left some electricals on (lights, radio, device charging), your battery could be just fine. However, if it was drained completely, it could have sustained irreversible damage and may have to be replaced or you’ll find yourself in the exact same situation again pretty soon. The only way to know is to measure your battery’s health with a car battery tester.

If your battery is older than 5 years, it is probably weak and needs replacing too. Average car battery life is 4-5 years, depending on use. 

A car battery trickle-charger will keep your car battery in top shape for much longer and is a sensible investment. 

FAQ:

What Do I Need to Jump Start a Car?

To jump start a car the classic way, you will need a set of jumper cables and another running car. 

Another way to jump start a car is to use a portable jump starter. This is a small portable  battery-powered device that can simply be clamped to your car battery. It will deliver instant power regardless of the state your car battery is in. 

How Do I Connect the Jumper Cables?

Identify the positive and negative terminals on both batteries. The positive terminal will be red and is typically marked with a “+” sign, the negative terminal will be black and is typically marked with a “-” sign.

Take your jumper cables and make sure that from now on, the clamps don’t touch. Start with attaching one end of the red jumper cable to the positive (red, “+”) terminal of the dead battery, but first make sure that the other end doesn’t touch any metal parts or contacts.

Attach the other end of the red jumper cable to the positive (red, “+”) terminal of the working battery.

Attach one end of the black jumper cable to the negative (black, “-”) terminal of the working battery.

Attach the other end of the black jumper cable to a metal part on the dead car’s engine, such as a bolt or a bracket. Some cars have a ground terminal away from the battery, check your car manual. In any case, choose a metal part that is furthest away from the battery, fuel system components and moving parts like the fan, pulleys and belts. 

CAUTION: Don’t connect the last clamp to the battery terminal directly, because that may cause a spark. This spark might ignite the flammable hydrogen gasses that are formed in the battery while charging/discharging. When the gas ignites, it will cause an explosion which will disperse acid and debris under high pressure everywhere. A dead battery often produces more gas than a good one.

Can I Jump Start a Car by Myself?

Of course you can. You only need jumper cables and another running car to connect to or a portable jump starter. No special skills are needed. Just follow instructions.

Can I Jump Start a Car if the Battery is Completely Dead?

Yes, in most cases you could jump start your car with jumper cables and another running car or with a portable jump starter. However, if your battery is completely dead due to an internal shortage, a faulty alternator or another electrical or mechanical issue, jumping your car’s battery may not work and the car may need to be towed to a workshop or dealership for repair.

What Should I Do after Jump Starting the Car?

After jump starting the car, let the engine run for a few minutes to allow the battery to recharge. If the car runs normally and doesn’t quit, you can disconnect the jumper cables or portable jump starter and continue on your way. 

However, it’s important to check your car battery’s health because jumping a car battery might only be a temporary fix. If your car battery got drained because you left some electricals on (lights, radio, device charging), your battery could be just fine. However, if it was drained completely, it could have sustained irreversible damage and may have to be replaced or you’ll find yourself in the exact same situation again pretty soon. The only way to know is to measure your battery’s health with a car battery tester.

If your battery is older than 5 years, it is probably weak and needs replacing too. Average car battery life is 4-5 years, depending on use. 

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One comment

  1. Avatar Ro

    I learned alot
    My 68 buick has new battery on battery tender
    But doest have power to crank the engine over.
    I made sure there is 5gal at least in gas tank
    Used ethervto try. To start it
    Trys to grab but doesnt
    Battery runs down quick
    Its only a month old
    Pretty sure the car got a new alternator a few 3? Years ago. Bf pandemic.
    I figure triple a can try to start it with jump box. Failing that arrange to have service station fix it..and let it get towed there when a bay is open.
    Yes im a woman who tinkers..but at the end of my talent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One comment

  1. Avatar Ro

    I learned alot
    My 68 buick has new battery on battery tender
    But doest have power to crank the engine over.
    I made sure there is 5gal at least in gas tank
    Used ethervto try. To start it
    Trys to grab but doesnt
    Battery runs down quick
    Its only a month old
    Pretty sure the car got a new alternator a few 3? Years ago. Bf pandemic.
    I figure triple a can try to start it with jump box. Failing that arrange to have service station fix it..and let it get towed there when a bay is open.
    Yes im a woman who tinkers..but at the end of my talent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *