How to Jump Start a Car




This instructable will show you step by step the proper technique used to jump start a car. Being able to jumpstart a car is an important task that all car owners should know how to execute. It is important to know how to jumpstart a car in case your car battery dies at some point. This is something that happens to almost all car owners at some point in their life. Depending on how many attempts it takes to get the car started this task may take anywhere from 20-40 minutes. This task can be completed by anyone with proper guidance. After the task is completed your battery will be charged and your car will be ready to drive.

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Step 1: Equipment

  • Gloves (Preferably Rubber)-This will help prevent electrical shock if you accidentally touch live cables.
  • Jumper Cables
  • Car with Dead battery
  • Car with Live battery
  • Old Rag or Towel
  • Safety Glasses

Step 2: Verifying the Issue

Verify that the issue with the dead car is a battery issue and not something else. This can be done by turning on the lights and seeing if they are dead or not.

Dim Lights indicate a low or dead battery. Also, if plugged in electronic accessories are not working this can also indicate a dead battery.

TIP: Before attempting to jump start car make sure to read the owner's manual. Some cars are not supposed to be jump started and may require you to just replace the battery.

Step 3: Set Cars in Position

After confirming that the battery is dead, park the dead and live car hood to hood with about a 2-3 foot gap in between them.

Next, make sure both cars are turned off and open up hoods to both of the vehicles.

TIP: Can also park side by side if area only allows for this type of configuration.

Step 4: Check Batteries

After both hoods are open locate and check both battery terminals for corrosion. If corrosion or dirt is on the terminals it may make it harder to jumpstart the car. If terminals are dirty or corroded be sure to clean them off with the rag.

After checking the terminals you will then be ready to hook up the jumper cables.

WARNING: Put on gloves to protect from electrical shock and other potential hazards in the car. Make sure vehicle is off while cleaning terminals

TIP: Make sure to follow correct order of hooking up cables in the following steps.

Step 5: Hook Up Jumper Cables

Now you are ready to hook up the cables. Make sure to use the correct order when hooking up cables described in the following steps.

First, hook up positive jumper cable to positive terminal on the dead battery.

Next, hook up positive jumper cable to positive terminal on live battery.

TIP: The positive jumper cable is the red one. The positive terminal is usually indicated by something red on the battery. There is also usually a + sign next to it if there is no red indication.

Step 6: Hook Up Jumper Cables

Third, hook up negative jumper cable to negative terminal on live battery.

TIP: The negative jumper cable is the black one. It is sometimes harder to find on the car battery since it is typically smaller than the positive terminal. It can be located by a - sign on the car battery.

Lastly, hook up the negative jumper cable to grounded piece of metal on dead car.

Do not hook up to a painted piece of metal or to a very dirty piece of metal. If you hook cables up to these, connections may not be good enough to get a jump. There is usually a good piece of metal towards the front of the hood to hook this cable up to.

WARNING: Do not hook up negative jumper cable to negative terminal of dead battery. This is because of safety issues. When connecting the last clamp there is a chance that a spark could be created. You want this spark to occur as far away from the battery as possible to prevent the battery from possibly exploding.

Step 7: Start Up Car With Live Battery

After cables are properly attached, start up the working car.

Let working car sit and run for about 5 mins.

TIP: It is okay to rev the engine in the live car around every 30 seconds. This will help produce a few extra volts, but is not essential in getting the other car to start. You will still have enough volts from the live battery to start the dead battery without revving the engine. If you do decide to rev engine make sure to not race the engine by keeping your foot on the pedal the whole time.

Step 8: Start Up Car With Dead Battery

After 5 minutes has passed try to start up dead car.

TIP: If dead car does not start up it is most likely do to a bad connection. If this occurs shut off both vehicles and try to reconnect cables in order listed above. If you are removing all the cables make sure to do so in reverse order of how you applied them.

Step 9: Remove Cables

Once dead car turns on it is okay to remove jumper cables. Remove jumper cables in reverse order of how they were applied.

First, remove cable from ground metal on car with dead battery.

Then, remove cable from negative terminal on car with live battery.

Third, remove cable from positive terminal on car with live battery.

Lastly, remove cable from positive terminal on car with dead battery.

WARNING: Do not touch metal claws of cables together while a cable is still connected to a battery. This could result in electrical shock. (This is why rubber gloves are preferred.)

Step 10: Let Dead Battery Recharge

After cables are removed drive car around for 20-30 minutes. This gives the alternator time to recharge the battery. If car with dead battery is turned off immediately after a successful jump it is likely not to start up again and will require you to do process over.

You have now successfully jump started your vehicle. The hardest part about the process is making sure that the connections are strong. If it doesn't start the first time just make sure to readjust your connections and try again. Also, make sure that the terminals are clean for a good connection. Overall, this is a fairly easy task and one you should never have to pay someone else to do for you.

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    14 Discussions


    4 years ago

    If you're in a real jam and have nobody with another car you can "pop start" or "bump start" a manual transmission automobile, you need to be able to push the car to about 5mph and be nimble enough to jump in once you have it moving. Ready? Here goes. 1. Put it in neutral ( some say 2nd and hold clutch but since you're pushing that'll be hard unless you have 3 legs) once in Neutral start pushing with the door open and wheel straight, just push from the edge of windshield 2. Once you're moving jump in, press clutch put it in 2nd or 1st either work and turn the key and release clutch. That's it, you should have your car started, now don't stall it and make sure you drive a while before you shut it off and make sure to get your battery checked, places like Autozone will do this for you at no charge. If I've made any mistakes in this instruction please correct, it can be a little dodgy when you're turning it over. Don't attempt this if you aren't coordinated and if you have a passenger have them steer for you, it makes it a lot easier and a little safer.

    Also, reading the leaflet that comes with the jump wires is a good thing to do. There you learn that plugging black to black makes the live battery boil, hence the risk of explosion (takes a while, though).

    You can keep the car with the live battery running all the time, the whole thing takes a couple of minutes and you're not supposed to approach moving parts at any time.

    The sparks when attaching the black to the ground (the body) will tell you there's some kind of contact there, however, pushing the ventilation to the max will tell you for sure the contact is good.

    Once this established, the car should start immediately (or so) ; if you need to go beyond a minute, the problem is somewhere else (candles, petrol...), just stop -- you'll drown your engine anyway.


    5 years ago

    How have you people survived this long


    5 years ago

    I work at a wrecker service n we just hook up n go. Don't touch ends only thing to know


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nowadays you don't have another car to jump start. There's an emergency battery that you can buy and jump start with it. The most important is it's must have 12V and at least 12 amperes to jump start.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, before I come to america I dont know how to jumpstart car, now i do know how to jumpstart car. Thank you Lndiemer


    5 years ago

    Thanks this is really helpful for a new driver


    5 years ago

    Very nice Instructable. You might also mention that some vehicles, such as your Saturn Ion, have their battery in the trunk. As such if it's unsafe or inconvenient to maneuver the vehicles nose-to-nose you may jump from there if equipped.


    5 years ago

    With some newer vehicles, they will not start start if they dont have enough voltage, but the electronics will all still work full power. My 2009 chevy will not kick over unless it has 11.5v or something, but the lights and radio will work fine for hours. Just something to note.


    5 years ago

    Thank you! I liked it and will save for my future reference . Good idea.


    5 years ago

    Very clear instructable, a must-read for anyone in Driver's Ed.

    Chopper Rob

    5 years ago

    I'm glad someone put this up. Two things that you may want to revise, however. Drive the car to recharge the battery, just letting it run will not recharge all types of cars. Second, certain types of cars, like volvo (with the battery in the trunk) do not like to be jump started. I just had a vovlo in my shop for a three grand worth of work because of a jump start. If in doubt read your owners manual. Better yet, read your owners manual now, before it is dark, wet and cold with a dead battery. I liked the ible, and a timely topic with winter starting.

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    These are great tips for jump starting a car. Well done, and nicely documented!