Life DIY 101 | How to Jump-Start a Car

How to Jump Start a Car

battery cables
A car mechanic uses battery jumper cables to charge a dead battery.

Everyone has done it. Whether it’s because you left the lights on or your battery is old, most car owners will be faced with a dead battery sooner or later. It’s Nacho is here to help!

1. Jumping the battery

jumping the battering

On most cars, it will be near the front of the car on the right or left side. The positive terminal will be marked with a plus sign (+) and will usually have a red cable attached on it. The negative terminal will be marked with a minus sign (-) and will usually have a black cable attached to it.

Park the working car near, but not touching, the disabled car.

two cars jump start
Turn off the engine, radio, lights, A/C, fans and all other electrical components. Make sure that all of these things are off in the disabled car, too. Don’t let the cars touch at all.
Put on safety gear (goggles and gloves) if you have it.

safety gear
Inspect batteries for cracks, leaks or other damage. If you find any of these things, do not jump start the car. Call a tow truck instead or replace the battery.

2. Untangle and unwind your jumper cables

open hood with car cables
You must make sure that the red and black ends of your jumper cables never touch each other once they are connected to the batteries

3. Connect the jumper cables
Connect one red clamp to the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery.
Connect the other red clamp to the positive (+) terminal of the good battery.
Connect one black clamp to the negative (-) terminal of the good battery.
Connect the other black clamp to a piece of grounded metal on the dead car

Make sure none of the cables are dangling into the engine compartment, where they could be exposed to moving parts.

4. Start the working car

open hood with car cables
Let it idle for a few minutes. Do not pretend you’re a NASCAR driver and race the engine, but do rev the engine a little above idle for 30 to 60 seconds. This is to charge the battery in the dead car. If 30 seconds doesn’t do it, try charging for the full 60 seconds by keeping the engine at a high idle.

5. Start the dead car

start car

If it does not start, shut the engine off and check your connections by slightly twist or wiggle each of the four clamps to help ensure a good electrical connection. Restart the working car again. Allow another five minutes for charging before attempting to start the disabled vehicle. If this does not work after a few tries, you may need to have the car towed or the battery replaced.

6. Remove the jumper cables once the car starts

Do this in the reverse of the order in which they were attached, and don’t let any of the cables or clamps touch each other

7. Keep the recently-dead car’s engine running

car towing
for five minutes and then on or above idle for 20 minutes before turning it off. This should give the battery enough charge to start the car again. If it does not, you probably have a dead battery or a dying alternator.


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