How to Jump Start a Car

How to Jump Start a Car

You’re walking out to your car when you remember—you left your lights on. After scrambling to test the ignition and getting no response, you probably feel your stomach drop as you realize that you’re stranded, and it’s quickly growing dark. Perhaps you have jumper cables in the trunk, where you stashed them for a time like now, and maybe you’ve even found a Good Samaritan who has volunteered their car’s battery to help out. Good for you for being prepared, but do you know the steps to safely get your car started again? If not, there’s no reason to worry. Here’s how you can jump start your car, and get back on the road again.

Find the Source of the Problem

Chances are, it’s your battery. But before you go and untangle those dusty jumper cables, you can do a little test to see if it’s simply your battery or if you have a more serious issue on your hands. To check the state of your battery, all you need to do is turn the key and listen. Do you hear the engine trying to turn over? If so, your battery isn’t the problem, and you probably need to get a professional mechanic to take a look at your car. If you hear nothing though, good news! Your battery is dead, and a jump start is probably all you need to get back on the road again.

Jump Start Your Car

Now that you know what this issue is, and you’ve wrangled the help of another car or an emergency jump-starter battery, here’s the steps to get your car up and running again:

  1. Make sure that both cars are turned off. This means keys in the OFF position, so be sure to check your car as well.
  2. Connect one end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal on your stalled car. The red cable is for a positive charge, so it’s important to connect it correctly and keep it always connected to positive terminals. The positive terminal should be marked, so look for a + or POS.
  3. If you’re using a second car to start yours, connect the other end of the red positive cable to the positive terminal on the good battery. If you’re using a jump-starter battery, be sure that the red cable is connected properly to the device.
  4. Connect the black cable to the negative terminal on the good battery. If using a jump-starter, simply check that it’s connected correctly.
  5. Connect the other end of the black cable to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the dead car’s hood. The frame is a good choice, if it’s clean. The strut supporting your hood is also a good place. This will serve as your ground, and is critical to prevent dangerous electric shock. If you connect to the negative terminal on the bad battery, you can cause an explosion.
  6. Start the good car, and allow it to run for 2 to 3 minutes before trying to start the dead car. This will allow a charge to build in the dead battery.
  7. Start the dead car. If it doesn’t start up immediately, don’t keep trying the key. Instead, turn it back off, and let it charge for another few minutes. If it still won’t start after 2 or 3 tries, you may have a more serious issue to blame, such as a battery that can’t hold a charge. Continuing to try to start your car will only damage your ignition.
  8. Once your car is running, you’ll need to disconnect it. To do so, carefully remove the clamps in reverse order. Keep in mind that you’re dealing with live cables now, so it is very important to only touch the rubber covers on the clamp handles and never touch the cables together or touch them to another metal surface. First, remove the black ground cable from your newly started car. Next, remove the black cable from the negative terminal on the helping car’s battery. Then remove the red cable from the helper car’s positive terminal, and finally remove the red cable from the positive terminal on your car. Once removed, the cables should be safe to handle.
  9. Get back on the road! Now that you’ve gotten your car up and running, you can say thank you to the person driving the other car, and get on your way. Keep in mind, you should let your car idle or drive for at least 15 minutes before you shut your car off, otherwise you may need to jump it again. Allowing it to run for a little bit will give your battery time to charge again so your car can start on its own.

Now that you know how to jump start your car, it’s time to get out there and plan your next trip, whether it’s simply across town or across the country. Before you go, don’t forget to get your battery checked and your car inspected by our expert technicians. At Christian Brothers Automotive, we’re invested in making your car care experience easier and more honest than ever before. Let’s discuss your car’s needs today, so you can drive with confidence.

Ready to schedule routine maintenance, or finally get that check engine light looked at? Our stress-free automotive repair services are here to help! Find your local Christian Brothers Automotive today.

Posted By, Christian Brothers Automotive