The Correct Way to Jump Start a Car

by Marissa Robert

Jump starting a car is a useful skill to have and many theories exist on what is safe and what does not matter. The experts from Edmunds, 2CarPros and Car Talk agree on the safest method for jump starting your car to avoid the potential for explosions and other hazards. It is not difficult to jump start your car the correct way, once you know how.

Pull the car you are using to jump the dead battery in front of the car with the dead battery. The vehicles need to be close enough for the jumper cables to reach, but do not let any parts of the cars touch each other. Turn off the engine of the jumper car.

Lay out the jumper cables on the ground between both cars. Keep the red and black ends of each end of the cables from touching each other.

Clip the red or positive end of the jumper cables closest to the dead battery to the positive terminal on the dead battery, firmly. The terminal is marked with a plus (+) sign or it has red around it. Wiggle it a little bit to be sure the connection is good.

Attach the red connection on the other end of the cables to the positive terminal on the jumper car's battery. Make sure the connection is firm with a little wiggle there too.

Clamp the black side of the jumper cable to the negative terminal on the battery on the jumper car following the same procedure as Step 4. The negative terminal is surrounded by black or is marked by a minus (-) sign.

Find a space of unpainted metal in the engine of the car with the dead battery like a bolt or the accessory bracket on the alternator. Clamp the remaining black cable end to it. Make sure the cable will not interfere with any belts or moving parts once the engine is running again. Attaching this negative end to a ground rather than the battery keeps the risk of a hydrogen explosion near the battery low.

Turn the ignition in the jumper car on and allow it to charge the dead battery. Idle it for five minutes and then increase the charge running through the cables by pushing on the accelerator so the RPMs increase by about 1500 for 10 minutes.

Crank the ignition in the car with the dead battery so it turns over and catches. This ensures the alternator in the car with the dead battery charges the battery the rest of the way.

Remove the jumper cable ends in the reverse order from how you applied them: black from the engine with the dead battery, black from the jumper car, red from the jumper car and red from the car with the dead battery. Keep the ends from touching each other to reduce the risk of electrical shock.

Tip

  • check If any of the battery terminals in either the jumper car or the car with the dead battery have corrosion on them, scrub them with a piece of steel wool so the ends of the jumper cables can get a good grip with a strong electrical connection.

Warning

  • close Wear eye protection while you jump the car because car batteries contain strong acids which produce explosive gases.

Items you will need

About the Author

Marissa Robert graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English language and literature. She has extensive experience writing marketing campaigns and business handbooks and manuals, as well as doing freelance writing, proofreading and editing. While living in France she translated manuscripts into English. She has published articles on various websites and also periodically maintains two blogs.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera closeup of jumper cables image by Katrina Miller from Fotolia.com