How to Jump Start a Car

Jump-starting a car sounds may not seem very difficult. However, if you are doing it for the first time, you should know what you need to do to be safe. Jump-starting a car can be potentially dangerous because you are dealing with a lot of electrical current. Follow these step-by-step directions to ensure that you stay safe while getting your car, or a friend’s car, running with ease.



Make Sure the Battery is Low

There are a number of reasons your car may not start. You need to make sure that the problem is actually with the battery and not elsewhere in the car. To know for sure, try to turn on the headlights. They will be dim if there is not enough power going to them. Dash lights and other electrical functions will also be weaker than normal if the battery is low.

Find the Battery

When you are sure that the battery is the problem, you need to find it. A battery is pretty easy to find, but you need to open up the hood of the car first. Most car batteries are a little smaller than a cinderblock and have two prongs on top, one marked with a plus sign and the other with a minus sign. You will need to know which is which to proceed with jump-starting the car.

Park a Working Car Nearby

In order to jump-start a car, you will need to have a working car nearby. The cars will need to be parked within two feet of one another. If you know the location of both cars’ batteries, try to park them so that the two batteries will be close to each other when the hoods are opened. Most jumper cables will not reach from the middle of one parking space to another, so park closely and carefully.

Inspect the Batteries

Be sure that both batteries are not cracked or leaking in any way. If this is the case, you should not try to jump the car. Sometimes the battery prongs may be corroded, but this will not prevent you from jump-starting a car. Just clean the prongs with a wire brush if they are corroded, which is rather likely on older cars.

Get Your Jumper Cables

You will only need one set of jumper cables, so get one set and untangle them. They will likely have tied up a bit, like headphone cords, if they are carelessly stashed somewhere for a long period of time.

Connect the Cables

Both cars need to be off to start this process. The jumper cables should be red and black. The red cable needs to be clipped onto the end of each positive prong of each battery. One black cable end needs to be connected to the negative prong of the good battery. The other end of that same black cable needs to be grounded. To ground this cord, attach it to a piece of grounded metal on the car. Grounded metal will be shiny, not painted. A good idea is to find a bolt that connects to the frame of the vehicle.

Start the Good Car

It is important to start the correct car first. Simply start up the working car like normal, and the juices should start flowing. Keep the engine running for about a minute while lightly revving the engine above idle.

Start the Dead Car

Trying to start up the dead battery car may not work out so well at first. This is not a problem. You may not have spent enough time charging the dead battery for it to start up. Since this is most likely the cause, move on to the next step to get past it.

Adjust the Cables

If the dead car does not start at all, turn off both cars and adjust the cables slightly. Make sure that you do this to obtain the cleanest and most secure hold on the prongs and the grounding spot.

Remove the Cables

Once you have gotten the dead car to start up, you should turn off both the cars and then disconnect the cables. Do this in the reverse order that they were attached.
Jump-starting a car should be easy now that you know what to do. Keep the freshly charged car running for a few minutes because this makes the battery charge up from the power of the engine. As a test, you can turn off the car for a while and try to start it up again. If this does not work, you should not try to jump the car again, but have it serviced instead. Even if you get the car running, you should still have it taken to the mechanic to make sure that everything is running well.