Introduction: How to Jumpstart a Car

Picture of How to Jumpstart a Car

If you are viewing these instructions, then your car is most likely not starting due to a dead battery, and you are extremely frustrated. Do not worry! We are here to help with easy-to-follow instructions that will get you back on the road. Remember though, even if you successfully jumpstart your battery, you still need to take your car to an automotive shop and have the battery checked for safety reasons. You most likely need a new battery, and who wants to constantly jumpstart a car battery before heading out?

Step 1: Warning

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Jumpstarting a car battery is very dangerous and can result in electric shock, injuries, and death if done incorrectly. The following instructions are written to avoid these results. Therefore, please pay close attention to every disclaimer and follow each step included in the instructions to avoid these risks.

Step 2: Equipment

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What is a car battery?

Every car requires a working battery to run properly. A car battery is like a regular battery in that it has positive and negative poles and it can run out of charge. There are different types of batteries. Most car batteries are similar to the picture on the right where the entire battery is visible; however, some batteries are similar to the picture in the middle where only the battery bolts are visible. When a car battery runs out of charge, it can be because of a number of reasons, such as leaving car lights on for an extended period of time. When a car battery runs out of charge, this is when you need to jumpstart the battery or replace it all together.

Step 3: Materials

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Gather the following necessary materials:

Car with a working battery and preferably its owner
Jumper Cable Set
Towels

Additional Materials:
Flashlight [if jumping the battery at night]

Step 4: Danger

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Do not allow clamps to come into contact with any other pieces of metal except the actual bolts of the battery. It is recommended that you remove any jewelry that could come into contact with the battery or the metal clamps of the jumper cables. This includes rings or necklaces. Now onto the instructions!

Step 5:

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Park the working car with the good battery next to the non-working car with the dead battery, so that the jumper cables are able to reach both batteries without causing tension in the cable. Do not allow any part of the cars to touch one another.

Step 6:

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Turn off the working car and remove any electrical items plugged into the power outlets of each car i.e. IPods, MP3 players, phone chargers, etc.

Step 7:

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Release the hoods of each car. Prop up the hoods with rods, if necessary.

Step 8:

Locate the battery in each vehicle and check for corrosion or cracks. If the battery is corroded, wipe the battery bolts clean with a towel. Disclaimer: IF THE BATTERY IS CRACKED, DO NOT JUMPSTART THE CAR. You will need to tow the car to an automotive shop and replace the battery.

Step 9: Danger

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REMEMBER, DO NOT ALLOW THE ALLIGATOR CLAMPS TO TOUCH ANY METAL EXCEPT THE ACTUAL BATTERY BOLTS. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER FOR THE FOLLOWING STEPS.

Step 10:

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Attach the red alligator clamp to the positive bolt of the working car’s battery.

Step 11:

Attach the remaining red alligator clamp to the positive bolt on the dead battery.

Step 12:

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Attach the black alligator clamp to the negative bolt on the working car’s battery.

Step 13:

Attach the remaining black alligator clamp to a clean and secure piece of metal under the hood OR the negative bolt on the dead car's battery, if necessary.

**Attaching it to either the bolt or to a ground piece of metal will work just fine; however, it is recommended that you attach the alligator clamp to a clean and secure piece of metal.   

Step 14:

Turn on the car with the good battery.

Step 15:

Turn on the car with the dead battery.

Step 16: Moment of Truth

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Step 17: Final Steps

If the cars start working, let the cars run for 3-5 minutes.

Turn off both cars.

Remove jumper cables from each battery. The order is not important when removing the cables.

Close both hoods of the cars.

Step 18:

Now thank the person who helped you, give yourself a little congratulations dance or highfive, and drive away! You’re in a hurry, remember?!

Step 19: Don't Forget!

Take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible--no longer than 24 hours after you jumpstarted your battery. Just because you successfully jumpstarted your car does not mean you fixed the problem!

Comments

Darrin McNeice (author)2013-08-13

This is not necessarily true "You most likely need a new battery" Do not worry if your battery has died and it is less than a few years old. Most modern batteries last 3 minimum. More depending on your climate. If you left your lights, parking lights, dome light, etc. on overnight, it may drain your battery. If the Battery is holding a charge after you get it started and the alternator is putting out sufficient voltage so that it is keeping the charging system up to voltage, then all is well. Check a repair manual for your car but normally an alternator should put out 14-18 Volts to charge up the battery and run other components.

lowetom65 (author)2012-05-21

The final connection should be at the dead car but not on the battery. As other posters have indicated the battery creates Hydrogen and it is very explosive. The connection should be 12 inches away and preferably below the battery. Hydrogen is lighter than air so making the connection below will reduce the risk of explosion.

phoeny (author)2012-03-14

Why should i turn of the cars?

after 5minutes there is not enough power in the battery to start up the car again...

ToolboxGuy (author)2011-06-01

+1 jorsher

Use a frame ground instead of the dead battery negative post - the metal bumper mount if the cable can reach it. Remeber it needs to connect to metal, not painted metal. The fender (under the hood bit) works well, as long as it isn't corroded too.

Your last connection is going to provide a spark. Many low batteries have too little water left in them, and can be giving off some hydrogen gases. Open sparks and hydrogen gases don't mix - think Hindenburg....

The initial goal is to start the other car, not recharge the dead battery anyway. I've literally driven a car with the battery disconnected - tape the ends of the cables so they don't short out against the car or bounce around into the fan or other internal parts. You don't have to tape the ground cable, but secure it from bouncing around too.

wrksnfx (author)ToolboxGuy2011-09-15

Plus if there is a surge in the charging system you can FRY your cars computer if it has a computer and a used one is not to bad just the cost of a used car depending on how new your cars is.

ffsman (author)2011-05-09

I found some other important tips on boosting the battery http://howtohacklife101.blogspot.com/2011/05/how-to-jump-start-car.html

Jorsher (author)2011-03-04

I thought I should mention, it's highly suggested to attach it to ground on the dead car, instead of the negative terminal. Of course, it will need to be connected to something that's attached to the rest of the car chassis. The strut tower or motor mount (if accessible) is usually a good, easy to find place for this.

While you can use the negative terminal, it's not recommended.

Phil B (author)2011-03-03

Instructions I have seen say do not connect both cables to the battery, but clamp one cable to the positive terminal and the other to the metal frame of the engine or of the car as far away from the battery as possible. This is because the battery may give off explosive hydrogen gas during charging and during jumping the battery with another car. When the both cables are disconnected at the battery, a spark can ignite the hydrogen and cause an explosion that sends jagged shards of battery case and blobs of battery acid through the air, causing some really bad injuries. The safer procedure is to disconnect the ground cable from the frame of the car first and then disconnect the positive cable from the battery post. This way there is no sparking near the battery.

zazenergy (author)2011-03-03

These sound like great tips! Thanks!

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