how to jump a car

Experiencing a dead car battery can catch any driver off guard, and although basic car maintenance is covered in driver’s education, the specifics of jump-starting a car might not be. Being equipped with the right emergency tools is a fantastic start, but knowing how to use them is crucial. Here’s your comprehensive guide on jump-starting your car, ensuring you’re never left stranded.

Essential Tools for Jump-Starting a Car

Jump-starting a dead battery is an almost inevitable scenario for most drivers. To prepare, you’ll need the following:

  • Jumper Cables: These are thick, insulated cables with clamps at the ends, color-coded as red and black to denote positive (+) and negative (-) terminals.
  • Power Source: This can be another vehicle with a functioning battery or a portable jump starter, also known as a jump box.

Jump boxes are handy portable batteries designed to jump-start a car without the need for another vehicle.

Jump-Starting with Another Vehicle: Step-by-Step

If you don’t have a charged jump box on hand, you’ll likely need to jump-start your car using another vehicle. Here’s how to safely do it:

Step 1: Prepare the Vehicles

  1. Check the battery voltage and ensure both vehicles use a matching system (usually 12V).
  2. Position the vehicles close enough so the jumper cables can connect both batteries, either nose-to-nose or side-by-side.
  3. Switch both cars to park or neutral, turn off the ignitions, engage the parking brakes, and open both hoods.

Step 2: Connect the Jumper Cables

Follow this order to ensure safety and effectiveness:

  1. Red to Dead: Attach the red clamp to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
  2. Red to Donor: Connect the red clamp to the positive terminal of the donor battery.
  3. Black to Donor: Attach the black clamp to the negative terminal of the donor battery.
  4. Black to Metal: Clamp the black one onto an unpainted metal part of the dead car’s engine bay, away from the battery.

Step 3: Start the Donor Vehicle

Let the donor car run for a few minutes to charge the dead battery.

Step 4: Test and Start the Dead Car

Check if the dead car’s interior lights turn on, indicating the battery is receiving power. Then, try starting the dead car.

Step 5: Disconnect the Cables

Once the dead car is running, carefully disconnect the cables in the reverse order of connection.

Allow the jumped car to run for at least 10-20 minutes to recharge the battery fully.

Troubleshooting: If the Car Doesn’t Start

If the car doesn’t start after the jump, double-check the connections and try again. A battery that won’t charge may need replacement.

Understanding Car Batteries

Knowing the basics of car batteries is essential for a successful jump-start. Batteries have two terminals, positive (+) and negative (-), which must be correctly identified and connected to the jumper cables.

Safety Tips for Jump-Starting

  • Always consult your car’s owner’s manual first, as some vehicles have specific requirements or prohibitions against jump-starting.
  • Avoid jump-starting batteries that are corroded, cracked, leaking, or visibly damaged.
  • Never attempt to jump-start a battery that appears frozen or dry.
  • Keep the clamps from touching each other to prevent short-circuiting.

For more tips on safe driving and vehicle maintenance, exploring resources like can be incredibly beneficial.

Remember, jump-starting a car can be straightforward if you follow these steps carefully. However, always prioritize safety and consult a professional if you’re unsure.