How to Jump-Start a Vehicle

Even though jump starting a dead battery is very easy to do, too many people rely on AAA or another driver to come to their rescue. Everybody should know how to jump start a dead battery. Not only can you get yourself back on the road, but you can also come to the rescue for someone else. To prevent being stranded on the side of the road, a good car resolution is to learn how to jump start a car. Be extra careful and make sure the jumper cables are connected to the right areas!

There is a risk of electrocution. Red = positive. Black = negative.

Before You Start

  1. Ensure both vehicles are parked in a safe location.
  2. Put both cars in park or neutral, turn the ignitions off and put on the parking brake.
  3. Inspect your jumper cables to make sure they are in good condition.
  4. Make sure you can identify the positive and negative terminals on both vehicles.
  5. Make sure that the battery giving the jump has enough voltage and is a matching voltage system type (12V, 6V, etc). Bright, sharp headlights are a good indication of a good battery.
  6. DO NOT JUMP corroded, cracked, leaking or visibly damaged batteries.

How to Connect Your Jumper Cables

  1. Open the hood of each car.
  2. Attach the jumper cable clips to the terminals in the following order:
  3. Red to Dead - Connect red, or positive, clip to the positive terminal on the battery of the dead car.
  4. Red to Donor - Connect the red, positive, clip to the positive terminal on the donor battery on the other car.
  5. Black to Donor - Connect the black clip to the negative terminal of the donor car.
  6. Black to Metal - Connect the black clip to an unpainted metal part of the dead car that is not directly next to the battery. One of the metal struts that hold the hood open is a good place to clip the second black, or negative, clip.

Start the donor car so that the battery can supply power to the dead battery. Allow the donor car to run for a few minutes. Test the interior light of the dead car. If the light goes on, there may be enough power to start the car.

Start the dead car. Once the dead car starts, make sure it doesn’t stall before disconnecting the jumper cables.

After the car is jump started:

Unclip the clips in the reverse order you connected them:

  1. The black clip on the unpainted metal
  2. The black clip from the negative terminal
  3. Red clip from the donor car
  4. Red clip from the dead car’s battery

Once the car with the dead battery starts, make sure it doesn’t stall before disconnecting the jumper cables. Be sure to leave the car running for about 30 minutes after the jump to give the battery time to recharge!

If the car doesn’t start after the jump start

If the dead car doesn’t start after a few minutes of being powered then:

  1. Check the connections and repeat letting the car giving the jump run for a few minutes.
  2. Try starting the car again.
  3. If the car does not start after several attempts, the battery could be too far gone and may need replacing.