How to Jump-Start Your Car

You just finished with your shopping and have returned to your car only to discover that the ignition does not turn over. Upon further inspection, you have discovered that the battery has died and you are stranded.

But not all is lost — with jumper cables at the ready and with the help of another motorist, you should be able to revive the battery and get your car started by following several important steps carefully.


Jump starting a car means securing the positive and negative connections first.

1. Assemble Your Tools

The only tool you will need to jump-start a car is a set of jumper cables. A rag or a wire brush can come in handy for wiping away battery corrosion that may have built up on one or more of the terminals.

2. Pull the Cars Close

Attempt to pull the working car as close to the non-working vehicle as possible. Do not allow them to touch as that vehicle-to-vehicle connection will cause a short.

Turn the working car’s engine off, then raise and secure each car’s hood.

3. Connect the Cable Leads

Begin by connecting the positive cable lead to the positive terminal of the good battery, before connecting the negative cable lead to the negative terminal on that same battery.

Take the other end of the jumper cable to the non-working car and attach the negative cable lead to a solid metal surface such as its engine.

Connect the positive cable lead to the battery’s positive terminal. Ensure that each connection is firm and secure.

4. Start Your Engines

Start the engine in the working car first. Permit the car to run at least one minute to allow the battery to fully charge. Next, start the engine in the second car.

If the engine turns over, your battery is salvageable. If not, you can attempt to start the car two more times. If it fails to turn over, then likely you’ll need to replace a dead battery. However, if the battery is new, then the alternator is the culprit and will need to be replaced, not the battery.

5. Disconnect the Cable

Keep the cars connected for one or two minutes to allow the revived battery to build up a charge. Then, disconnect the black leads from each battery first, followed by the red leads. Store your jumper cables as before.

Car Battery Diagnosis

As soon as you can, have your battery diagnosed by your mechanic or service center to determine whether it should be replaced or whether some other electrical problem is present. Always know your battery’s expected lifespan and plan to have it replaced before then.


See AlsoHow to Safely Remove Car Battery Corrosion

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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