Imagine this scenario. You’re running late for an important event, getting the kids to school, or simply heading out to work and rushing out to the garage with your car keys jangling. You jump into your trusty car, put the key in the ignition, and turn it, but nothing happens. All you hear is that dreaded click-click-click of a dead battery. It’s not the best start to anyone’s day.
What can you do about it? Aside from waiting for your friendly recovery service, there is the option of jump-starting your car. There are several ways to do it, but jump starting your vehicle correctly and safely is the right way to go.
Don’t know how to jump a car battery? Don’t worry because this post has all the answers and advice you need.
If you want to know how to properly jump-start a car, there are a few essentials you need. They include:
- A friend, neighbor, or relative who lives nearby and is willing to assist
- A set of jumper cables
It is possible to jumpstart a car without jumper cables, but we’ll tackle that problem a little later in this post. For now, let’s begin with some tips on how to jump a car with jumper cables, starting with some words of caution.
Knowing how to properly jump start a car starts with understanding the dangers. Car batteries are usually in the engine compartment. Also in this part of your car are flammable gases and a spark could start a fire. Therefore, you should be careful not to create any sparks when hooking up a weak battery to a live battery in another car. If you connect the jumper cables correctly and in the right order, it minimizes the chance of sparking.
You also have to make sure the metal ends of the jumper cables don’t touch each or any metal surfaces in your car. At least until they’re connected to the appropriate battery terminals.
Sounds quite a simple thing to do but because most parts of the car under the hood are metal, it’s more challenging than you think. It’s much easier if you’ve got someone to help because they can hold the ends of the jumper cables apart while you make the correct connections between the two cars.
How to Jump Start a Car With Cables – 10 Easy Steps
To ensure you connect the jumper cables in the correct order, always consult your car’s manual. There are some variations between different car models, but generally, the following steps are universally accepted.
Step 1: Use the Best Quality Jumper Cables or a Portable Jump Starter
You can pick jumper cables up for just a few dollars, but spend a little more and you’ll get the best quality cables. Features to look for include thick cables, clean metal clamps, and adequate insulation. Some cables also come with a handy chart that explains how to jump a car with cables and in which order you need to connect the ends.
It’s a good idea to keep your jumper cables in your car as you never know when you might need them. If you’re using a portable battery charger instead, make sure the battery is fully charged before you store it in your car.
Step 2: Open the Hood of Your Car and Locate the Battery and Terminals
The next step in this guide on how to properly jump a car is to open up the hood of your car and locate the battery. Once you’ve found it, identify the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals.
In some cars, the battery may be hidden and only the positive and negative terminals will be visible. A remote negative connection is another option with some cars.
If you’re using a portable jump starter, you can skip the next step and move on to step number 4.
Step 3: Park Your Vehicle Correctly
Jumper cables aren’t especially long, so you need to park the vehicle with the working battery as close as you can to your car, leaving enough room between them for you to walk.
Now is the time when you need to be careful not to let the ends of the jumper cables come into contact with other parts of your car. They could get caught on moving parts such as a fan or belt. They might also scratch the paint on the outside of your car.
Make sure the engines of both vehicles are switched off and the parking brakes are set. If either car has an automatic transmission it must be set to park. Manual transmission cars should be in neutral.
Any accessories, lights, or radio should be turned off and provided both vehicles are parked safely, you should turn off any hazard lights as well.
Step 4: Clamp the Cables to the Dead Battery
There are two jumper cables, one of which is red, the positive (+) cable. The other is black which is the negative (-) cable.
First clamp one end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery. Ensure the connection is good and the clamp bites the battery terminal well.
There may be some corrosion on the terminal. If this is the case, twist the clamp’s jaws until they break through the corrosion and touch the metal. The connection has to be metal on metal for there to be a strong electrical connection.
Before connecting any cables to the car with a good battery, check that the black (negative) cable clamp isn’t touching any metal surfaces in the car.
If you’re using a portable jump starter, you can skip the next couple of steps and move on to step number 7.
Step 5: Clamp the Cables to the Booster Battery
Now you can move to the good battery and connect the negative cable to the negative battery terminal in the booster car.
Once you’ve connected the negative cable to the battery, the other end can be attached to any unpainted metal surface inside the engine compartment of your car (the one with the dead battery). It might be an unpainted bracket or bolt. It must be a few inches away from the dead battery.
This connection provides a solid ground and also reduces the risk of any sparking. If your car has a labeled remote negative terminal, you can use this instead.
Step 6: Make Final Checks
Before you can start the engine of the car with the good battery, the smart thing to do is make some final checks. You’re checking to make sure the jumper cables are not near any moving engine parts.
As long as everything is clear, you can start the car with a good battery. Let the engine idle for a few minutes so that the dead battery builds up a sufficient charge. How long you should let the engine idle depends on the age of the battery in your car.
If your dead battery is an old one and your car has been sitting for longer than a month, it may take a while for the battery to charge. Newer batteries that have been drained by leaving the car lights on, for example, will likely take less time and start relatively quickly.
If you want to speed up the process, it often helps to rev the booster car’s engine a little.
Step 7: Start Your Vehicle
Once the booster car has been running for a while, you can try starting your car and letting it idle for a while. If your car doesn’t want to start but the engine cranks quickly, your car also has another issue that might well be an empty gas tank.
Step 8: Disconnect the Jumper Cables
When your car’s engine has been running for a while, you can disconnect the jumper cables in reverse order. In other words, remove the negative terminal that was attached to the dead battery. At the same time, while you’re disconnecting the other ends, make sure the cable is held away from any metal surfaces and the other ends of the cables.
Step 9: Drive Your Car
Don’t turn your car’s engine off because you’ve got to run it for at least 20 minutes to give the alternator enough time to recharge the battery.
When you do shut off the engine, make sure it’s somewhere safe just in case you need to jump-start your car again.
Step 10: Get Your Battery Tested
The final step in this guide on how to jump start a dead car battery is to get your battery tested. This is especially important if the battery is more than 3 years old. If you continue to have problems with your battery and starting your car, it might be time to invest in a new battery for your car.
Now you know how to jumpstart a car with another car, let’s see what you need to do if jumper cables aren’t near and handy.
How to Jump a Car Without Jumper Cables
USTrans is a car shipping company that likes to share tips on all kinds of car-related issues. Finding yourself alone on the highway with a dead battery is not something we’d wish on anyone. However, it might happen to you and this is why we’d like to share some tips on how to jump start a car without jumper cables.
Knowing how to jump start a car by yourself might save you the hassle and cost of calling a tow truck.
If you find yourself with a dead battery in your car and there’s no help around or jumper cables to use, the only option is to push start it. It’s also known as bump or pop starting and is a way of forcing the engine into life without using the battery-powered starter.
To bump a car you need a road with a slight incline or at the very least a short, flat distance of road and a couple of passers-by to do the pushing. You could do it alone, but it’s not the easiest of things to do without some muscle power.
Follow these steps to pop start your car:
- If you’ve got someone to help, bump starting your car is much easier. Get them to stand at the rear of your vehicle and tell them to get ready to push.
- You must sit in the driver’s seat and turn the ignition on.
- Make sure the parking brake is engaged.
- Push the clutch in and shift your car into second gear. Why second gear and not first? Because first gear may cause your car to buck rather harshly.
- Press on the brake pedal while releasing the parking brake.
- Release the brake pedal and shout to your friends to push.
- They need to push your car so that it reaches around 5mph. Once your car has reached that speed you must release the clutch abruptly. As the engine engages, it may buck slightly or sputter but don’t worry as this is normal.
- If the car’s engine starts, that’s your car running without the need for jumper cables.
- However, if the engine hasn’t started, you need to start the process all over again and try to achieve a higher speed.
- If the problem with your car is a dead battery, you’ll need to run the car for long enough to recharge the battery.
Jump Starting a Car With a Jump-Start Box
We’ve looked at how to start a car with and without jumper cables. Time to look at one more way you can start your car if it’s got a dead battery.
A jump-start box is a portable battery that’s got jumper cables attached. They are safer than jumper cables because they have software that prevents voltage spikes that might damage the electrical system of your car.
Some portable battery chargers also have a few other special features such as AC outlets, onboard safety lights, and USB ports so you can charge your phone.
Jump-start boxes are reasonably priced and small enough to store in your car should you need them in an emergency.
Here’s how to jump a car with a battery charger:
- Before you store your jump-starter pack in your car make sure it’s fully charged.
- If your jump starter is not fully charged, plug it in and charge it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Using the integrated cables, connect the red clamp to the positive post of the dead battery. You’ll find this marked with a + symbol. It might also have a red cover on it.
- Connect the black clamp to an unpainted, grounded metal surface. You should find this kind of surface somewhere under the hood.
- When both the positive and negative are connected, turn the jump-starter on.
- After a couple of minutes, you can try to start your car.
- If the engine doesn’t start, leave it a few more minutes and try again.
- Once the car has started, turn off the power switch of the jump-starter.
- Remove the clamps in the opposite order. In other words, remove the black clamp first followed by the red clamp.
- Now you’ve used the jump starter, it’s a good idea to make sure it’s fully charged.
How long does it take to jump a car?
Once you’ve got the cables connected, it should only take a few minutes to jump your car. If you’re bump starting your car, it might take a little longer, depending on how well your mates can puh.
How long does it take to charge a car battery after a jump?
It takes between four and eight hours at highway speeds to fully charge a car battery. However, be aware that driving your car will never fully charge it.
How to jump a car with a battery charger?
Jumping a car with a battery charger is one of the safest and easiest ways to get your car running. Make sure the charger is fully charged before you clamp the red cable to the positive post and the black cable to the negative post. Turn on the charger’s power and then start your car’s engine. Once the engine is running, you can disconnect the cables, the black cable before the red one.
How long should it take to jump a car?
If you’re wondering how long to jump a car, the answer is that you can expect to take around 15 minutes. If you’re getting some professional help, it might be quicker.