A Visual Guide to Jumpstarting Your Car

The possibility that your car's battery is dead after repeated attempts to start the engine is frustrating and stressful, but it's usually not a big deal.

  1. 1

    Leave a vehicle next to yours that is running while you are away. You need a reliable battery jumpstart, which can be provided by another vehicle. You can park the second car so that their hoods are facing each other or you can park them next to each other so that their hoods are parallel to each other. If the jumper cables can connect to both batteries, you're good to go. Ensure that no automobiles are touching one another. [1]

    • A small explosion or battery short could result from the vehicles coming into contact with one another. Although this is highly unlikely, you should still leave some space between the cars. [2]
  2. 2

    Avert both cars' attention by switching off their electrical systems Make sure the lights and wipers are not set to come on as soon as you start your vehicle by double checking before you leave a dead vehicle. Turn off the engine in the running vehicle. [3]

    • You don't want your battery to waste power by running extraneous parts once charging has begun.

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  3. 3

    Pull out your jumper cables. When you use jumper cables to connect a car's dead battery to a good one, you can borrow power to jump-start your vehicle. [4] You can use any pair of jumper cables for this. If you can, go for the heavier and longer cables. Because of their greater length and diameter, longer cables are more manageable. [5]

    • Once you've resolved the immediate issue, go out and buy a set of jumper cables if you don't already have a set in your trunk. Have jumper cables on hand in case your car battery dies.
  4. 4

    Check where the battery terminals are on both cars before you begin. Take the hood off every car. Each vehicle's make and model dictates the battery's specific location. [6] Find a small box with two protruding metal bolts. The connections are made via these metal bolts, or terminals. Power outlets have black and red covers, and the positive and negative terminals are always labeled with () and (-), respectively. [7]

    • To gain access to the ports, remove any plastic covers by popping them up with your fingers.
    • The presence of a white, chalky substance on the terminals is a possible indicator of corrosion. This gunk can be removed with a battery terminal cleaner. [8]

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  1. 1

    Please attach the red clamp to the positive terminal of the defunct battery. [9] All of the jumper cables in your set are clearly labeled with colors. Connect the positive red clamp to the positive terminal of the dead battery. A red cap could be on the positive terminal. You can find the () under the terminal if there are no covers. Release the handles to open the clamp's jaws and clamp onto the terminal. [10]

    • When doing this, avoid bringing the metal clamps of the two sets of cables into contact with one another. A spark could fly, burning your hands or starting an engine fire. Don't mix them up while you work.
    • Briefly, the dead battery's red cable goes to ground, the live battery's red cable goes to ground, the black cable goes to the live battery, and the black cable goes to the ground.
  2. 2

    Link the other red wire to the battery's positive terminal. [11] Connect the positive terminal on the donor vehicle to the other end of the red cable, which has already been clamped onto the dead battery. You should attach this clamp in the same manner as the first one. The positive () terminal is attached by simply wrapping the jaws around it and releasing the handles. [12]

    • Assembling the clamps could be simplified if you fastened one end to the dead battery and the other to the other car. You can avoid the need to repeatedly walk back and forth by using this method.
  3. 3

    Put the negative end of the black cable into the minus terminal of a good car battery. When connecting the black cable to the working vehicle, use the end that is most conveniently located. Clip the black end of the cable to the car's negative (-) terminal. [13] In case you were wondering, the lat metal clamp is now live and should not be touched. Avoid placing it on any surface other than unfinished wood, metal, or concrete. [14]

  4. 4

    Connect the final black clamp's ground wire to a bare metal surface on your car. An object made of metal is required to complete the circuit and ground the charge. In the engine compartment, any bolt will do. [15] The engine block itself can also be utilized. For that matter, any unpainted, thin metal component of the frame will do. [16]

    • To jumpstart a car in this manner is the safest option. While it is possible to "jump" the battery by connecting the negative terminal of the new one to the dead one, doing so in this fashion is much safer because a short will not occur.

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  1. 1

    Charge the good battery by turning on the car. You should have the other driver hop in and turn the key to start their car. When their motor is running, yours will start to recharge. [17]

    • Turn off your lights and headlights if you see them come on after they start their car. You probably killed your battery by leaving these lights on.
  2. 2

    It will take a few minutes for the battery to charge. When you turn the engine over by hand, your battery needs to have enough juice to start the engine. To get enough juice for this, your battery may need a few minutes to charge. One way to test a car's battery is to turn on an interior light. A ready light is one that shines steadily and does not flicker. Give it a few more minutes if it's dim or won't turn on. [18]

    • There is no fixed waiting period. It takes only 2 minutes to recharge some batteries, while others require 5-10 minutes. One should wait a little longer if they are not in a hurry.
    • If you want to move things along more quickly, you can ask the driver of the car with the good battery to give it a little gas. [19]
  3. 3

    Start your car by inserting the key into the ignition. Having waited a few minutes, you can get into the driver's seat and start the car as usual. [20] Make sure the clamps are properly connected if it doesn't start the first time. To try again, please wait a while. Assuming the jumper cables are properly connected, the engine should turn over if a dead battery is the only problem. [21]

    • To diagnose a bad starter, listen for a clicking sound when you turn the key.
    • A faulty alternator could be to blame if the battery dies again after you've taken these steps. [22]
    • If the engine won't start despite the fact that the lights are on, but the gas gauge is within normal range, the problem may lie with the fuel. Alternatively, if it's extremely cold, the fuel line could be frozen or the fuel pump malfunctioning. [23]

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  1. 1

    So that your car's battery can charge while you finish up, go ahead and turn the engine on. While you're thanking the other driver and putting away the cables, don't forget to keep your engine running! Turning off the engine won't give the battery enough time to recharge. You can leave it on for a while while you finish up the cleanup. [24]

    • If you can, try to get at least 20 minutes of driving time after you're done to let the battery fully recharge. [25]
  2. 2

    To begin, you must free your car of its black ground clamp. After starting your vehicle, gently grasp the clamp's handles and pull the raw metal into position. Get that black cable out of your car. It is still energized, so you must either set it down on concrete or hold it without touching the clamp. [26]

    • Be cautious as you detach the jumper cables as they may still contain electricity.
    • To recap, unplug the cables in the opposite direction they were plugged in. Therefore, the black ground is eliminated before the black donor. First, the bad battery's red tape is removed, then the donor's red tape.
  3. 3

    First disconnect the black cable, then the red one, to get rid of the good battery. Disconnect the good battery's black clamp. The same battery can then have its red clamp removed. If you need help keeping the ground clamp from touching anything, have the other driver do it. [27]

  4. 4

    Take out the bad battery's final red cable. Similarly, you should ensure that the other three clamps are completely disengaged. Then, free the positive terminal of its final clamp. Before calling it a day, make sure the terminal covers are back in place and the car's hood is shut. [28]

    • As soon as the last clamp is removed, the cables lose power. Avoid touching them if you can because they might be warm, but there is no danger of sparks or explosions.
  5. 5

    Get a mechanic's opinion to rule out any serious issues. A dead battery can be caused by the weather if it is particularly cold. Another common reason is forgetting to turn off the lights. However, your battery's death could have been caused by some other mechanical issue. Take the car in for an inspection if you have any doubts. [29]

    • Wait a few minutes after you realize you left a light on before turning off the car. The next time you try to start your car, but the battery is dead, you should have it serviced.

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Insert New Concern
  • Question

    How do you know which cable to attach first when jump starting a car?

    Duston Maynes
    Mr. Duston Maynes
    Technician in Automotive Maintenance and Repair
    RepairSmith employs Duston Maynes, who specializes in auto repair. Duston is the head of a team that specializes in a wide range of auto repairs, such as spark plug replacement, front and rear brake pad replacement, fuel pump replacement, battery replacement, alternator replacement, timing belt replacement, and starter motor replacement. Duston is a BMW STEP-certified diagnostic technician and auto mechanic with an associate's degree in the field from Arizona's Universal Technical Institute. RepairSmith was named the Startup of the Year by the American Business Awards and the 2020 Big Innovation Award winner by the Business Intelligence Group. In addition to being featured on Built in LA's list of 50 Startups to Watch and The Business Intelligence Group's list of 52 Names Leading the Way in Customer Service, RepairSmith has also been recognized for its innovative services. In order to better serve their customers, RepairSmith now provides mobile auto repair services that can be delivered directly to their homes.
    Duston Maynes

    The jumper cable's positive terminal should make initial contact with the vehicle being jumped.

  • Question

    The consequences of improperly jumping a car

    Duston Maynes
    Toby Duston Maynes
    Expert in Car Maintenance
    Car repair expert Duston Maynes works for RepairSmith. Duston is the head of a team that can fix just about anything on a car, from the spark plugs to the brake pads, the fuel pump to the battery to the alternator to the timing belts and the starter. Duston is a Certified Diagnostic Technician and Automobile Mechanics Technician through BMW STEP and has an Associate's degree in Automotive/Diesel Technology from The Universal Technical Institute of Arizona. RepairSmith was named the Startup of the Year by the American Business Awards and the 2020 Big Innovation Award winner by Business Intelligence Group. The Business Intelligence Group recognized RepairSmith as one of the 52 names leading the way in customer service, and Built in LA named it one of the 50 startups to watch. Anywhere in the world, car owners can contact RepairSmith for convenient and thorough in-home auto repair services.
    Duston Maynes

    By properly grounding the vehicles and connecting all the wires, you can protect your car's electrical system from harmful spikes.

  • Question

    Could the battery be the problem, or do I need to replace the headlights?

    Community Answer

    The fact that your headlights are turning on does not mean your battery isn't dead. The problem may also lie with your vehicle's starter or alternator. It's probably not your starter if you hear the car clicking and trying to start. It may be the alternator if your battery is not keeping a charge. If you manage to get it started, but then hear a high-pitched squealing, that's the serpentine belt and it likely means your alternator is locked up. If you let it keep going, the belt could break and cause expensive repairs to the engine. If the problem is a malfunctioning alternator, you will need to replace it yourself or have your car towed to a repair shop.

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  • Connecting Cables
  • Donor car
  • Battery maintenance kit (may be omitted).

Duston Maynes

Along with the following authors:

Competent Automotive Technician

Duston Maynes and Eric McClure, writers on staff at wikiHow, collaborated to write this article. RepairSmith employs Duston Maynes, who specializes in auto repair. Duston is the team leader who changes spark plugs, brake pads, fuel pumps, batteries, alternators, timing belts, and starter motors, among other things, on cars. Duston is a Certified Diagnostic Technician and Automobile Mechanics Technician through BMW STEP and has an Associate's degree in Automotive/Diesel Technology from the Universal Technical Institute of Arizona. RepairSmith was named the Startup of the Year by the American Business Awards and the 2020 Big Innovation Award winner by the Business Intelligence Group. The Business Intelligence Group recognized RepairSmith as one of the 52 Names Leading the Way in Customer Service, and Built in LA named it one of the 50 Startups to Watch. Regardless of where you live, RepairSmith can send a mobile mechanic to your home to perform any necessary auto repairs. More than 144,000 people have visited this page because of this article.

Co-authors: 18

Updated: July 29, 2021

Views:  144,462

Categories: Auto starters and alternators

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