How to Jump Start a Car
Dead battery? Get your vehicle running with these tips
Imagine the scenario: You go out to your vehicle and try to start it – and you hear nothing. Not the roar of the engine, not even the click of the starter.
you find yourself with a dead car battery, you can jump start it instead of
waiting for roadside assistance. You’ll need jumper cables, safety goggles,
gloves and the help of someone with a working vehicle.
Set the stage with
these tips from AAA: Move the “jumper”
car close to the “dead” car, ideally nose to nose with enough room to walk
between them. Put both cars into park (or neutral for manual transmission),
set the parking brakes and pop the vehicles’ hoods. Turn off the cars’ radios,
lights, heaters, etc., and disconnect all add-on electrical accessories, such
as your cell phone charger. Remove the keys from the ignition, and, if either car
uses a keyless ignition system, move the “smart fob” at least 10 feet away from
the vehicle before connecting the jumper cables.
any jewelry from your body because metal contacting the battery terminals can
cause a short, resulting in sparks. Don goggles and gloves. The battery
contains poisonous acidic electrolyte, so do not allow any battery fluids to
come into contact with skin, clothing or the vehicle. If battery fluid comes
into contact with skin or eyes, immediately wash the affected area with water
and seek medical attention. Do not lean over the battery while you’re working
on it, and do not set any tools on top of it, as metal tools can cause sparks.
Attempting to jump-start a frozen battery or one low on electrolyte may cause
the battery to rupture or explode, warns the AAA. So, before jump
starting the car, if possible, examine the dead battery’s electrolyte level. Most
of today’s batteries are sealed maintenance free batteries, designed to
minimize electrolyte loss, explains Edmunds – so, if that
applies to your battery, you can skip this step. If you have an old-style battery,
it will have two semi-rectangular vent caps on top of the battery. One bears
the warning label “Danger/Poison” and the other includes warnings and a
recycling seal, explains Hagerty Insurance. Remove these with
a flathead screwdriver, then look at each of the six cells to ensure that the
fluid level reaches even with the bottom of the well beneath the vent cap. If
necessary, add distilled water without overfilling the cells.
freezing temperatures, examine the battery for a bulging case (or ice in the
cells if you can open the vent caps). If you see either of these signs, allow
it to thaw before attempting to jump start it.
your vehicle’s manual, advises the AAA, as some newer vehicles or those that
use alternative fuel warn that jump starting them may damage the electrical
Jump Starting Steps
1. Think of the first step as: dead red to good red. Attach the red jumper cable to the dead car battery’s positive terminal. Don’t let the other head of the jumper cable touch anything because this may cause a spark, electrical shocks or even lead to a fire or more serious injury, warns Advance Auto Parts.
connect that side of the red cable to the positive terminal on the battery of
the good (i.e. “jumper”) car.
Think of this step as: good black to ground. Attach the black cable to the good
car’s black (negative) terminal. Do not allow the unattached head of the jumper
to touch anything before you attach it to the dead car’s solid, unpainted metal
frame. You could use one of the metal struts that holds open the
hood, suggests Sears, or an unpainted bolt.
Start the good car. Wait three minutes or so.
Start the dead car. If the engine won't turn over, reposition the negative
jumper cable to achieve better contact, advises Advance
Auto Parts. If it still won't start, the battery’s probably not the
Let both cars run for another few minutes, then turn on the headlights and
heater blower motor on the jumped car, says the AAA, in order to
provide an electrical pathway for possible voltage spikes when disconnecting
the jumper cables.
Remove the cables in reverse order without letting the cable heads touch
anything. Disconnect the black cable from jumped car, then the black cable from
the jumper-car. Remove the red cable from the jumper-car and then the red cable
from the jumped car.
Turn off the headlights and heater blower motor in the jumped car and let it run
for a few more minutes, then drive it to your destination. Don’t turn it off
for at least 20 minutes. In the very near future, consider getting your battery
looked at to see if it needs replacing.
steps should get you on the road safely and more quickly than waiting for help.