How to Jump Start a Car

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How to Jump Start Your Car

What's Involved in Jump-Starting a Car, and When Would I Need to Do This?

Your car's battery plays a central role in the overall function of your car's electrical system. Periodic inspection and maintenance of the battery helps extend its natural life. Cold weather is the primary contributor to loss of battery life.
To jump-start your car, you will need a pair of jumper cables and a vehicle with a functioning battery.

Things You'll Need

Jumper Cables

Step by Step: How to Jump-Start a Car

Tap each step to check off which ones you've completed

  1. Park the working car in front of the dead vehicle so the two are parked nose to nose.

    Ensure the two vehicles are approximately 18 inches apart. For both vehicles, make sure:

    • They are in park
    • The engines are off
    • The parking brakes are on

  2. On the dead battery, clamp the red end of the jumper cable battery's positive terminal with the (+) symbol and the other end to the working car's positive terminal (+).
  3. On the working car, clamp the black cable to the working battery's negative terminal with the (-) symbol and the other end to an exposed metal section, such as a bracket or bolt, at least a foot away from the battery. Warning: Do not cross the connections; connecting the positive cable to a negative terminal, or vice versa, can result in electrical system failure and a lot of smoke and sparks.
  4. Start the running car and let it run for one to two minutes while slightly revving the engine.
  5. Attempt to start the vehicle with the dead battery.

    It may take a couple of attempts, but don't try to start the engine more than three or four times in a row, as this could damage your car's electrical system.

  6. Once the vehicle with the dead battery starts, disconnect the cables in the reverse order you connected them.

    Warning: Do not let the clamps touch.

  7. Drive your car to charge the battery to full capacity so it will start again.

    A short drive may not be enough, so you might want to leave the car parked and idling with the lights off.

  8. Additional Tips:
    1. If your car refuses to start after a few attempts, it may be from battery corrosion, a problem with your fuses, alternator, ignition switch or starter connection. The battery could also be too drained to charge and may need to be replaced.