How to Jump Start a Car: A 9-Step Guide for Beginners

March 17, 2023

Car batteries can sometimes be unpredictable, leaving you stranded when you least expect it. Some factors that may affect a car battery include cold weather, an old battery, and leaving the lights on. Thankfully, jump-starting your car can solve this problem when done correctly.

You’ll need some equipment and basic knowledge to start the process. Here, you will learn how to jump-start a car in 9 simple ways. Read on to learn more.

What Is Jump Starting A Car?

What is jump starting a car

Jump starting a car is the process of starting a vehicle with a discharged or depleted battery. It involves connecting the battery of another vehicle or an external power source and using jumper cables to the disabled vehicle. This will provide enough electricity to the dead battery, restart the engine, and recharge your car.

Steps To Jump Start A Car

Jump starting a car is an important life skill everyone should know. It can be helpful during road trips and avoid expenses on towing services and repair shops altogether. Follow this step-by-step guide to jump-start your car safely and properly:

Step 1: Align Both Cars

Align Both Cars | How To Jump Start A Car

The first step is to park the car with a good battery parallel to the vehicle with a flat battery. The ideal distance of both engines is about 2 feet. This positions both cars close enough to allow the jumper cables to reach both batteries.

Step 2: Turn Off Both Vehicles

The second step is to ensure both cars are completely turned off before connecting the jumper cables. This can be done by:

  • Shutting off the cars’ ignition
  • Removing the keys
  • Setting the emergency brakes
  • Turning off all auxiliary devices (e.g., climate control, radio, and lights)

This should be done with extreme caution as it can have serious implications if not followed correctly.

All other power sources, such as cigarette lighters, must be turned off to avoid electrical surges and damage. Moreso, leaving an engine running could result in a potentially dangerous situation. So, take the time to do this and observe safety precautions.

Step 3: Open Both Hoods

Open Car Hood

Open the hood of both cars and secure them using hood support rods to ensure they are safely propped.

Step 4: Examine the Battery Terminals

Examine the battery terminals

After opening the car’s hood, look for the positive and negative battery terminals where you will connect the jumper cables.

The car terminals are colour-coded with positive and negative signs:

  • Red is for the positive (+) terminal
  • Black is for the negative (-) terminal

The jumper cable’s clamps are colour-coded in red and black as well. This makes it easy to know what goes where before jumpstarting.

Step 5: Attach the Jumper Cables

attach the jumper cables

Each battery contains two terminals, one positive and one negative. Here’s the correct sequence of properly attaching the cables:

  • First, secure a RED-colored jumper cable clamp to the POSITIVE terminal of the DEFUNCT battery. Ensure it is firmly attached and will not come loose while working on it.
  • Second, affix the RED clamp at the end of the wires to the positive terminal of the BOOSTER battery. Ensure that you securely fasten it in place so that there is a durable connection between the two components.
  • Third, secure the BLACK clamp to the BOOSTER battery’s negative terminal. Make sure that it is firmly affixed to ensure a proper connection between the two components.
  • Fourth, ensure that the second black clamp is attached to the unpainted metal surface instead of the dead battery. This will be used as a grounding connection. Improper execution may cause an explosion, fire, and sparks when the working car starts up.

Ensuring the four clamps are connected securely and in the exact order is imperative. Failure to do so can lead to serious harm or injury and may even cause damage to the automobile’s electrical system.

Clipping onto the batteries and keeping the metal clamps from coming into contact with each other is also imperative.

Leads in the reverse order can cause dangerous sparks due to a short circuit. These may damage both batteries and ignite other combustible materials surrounding them.

Step 6: Start the Working Car

Start Car Ignition

Start the car with a fully functional and working battery. Keep it running for up to two minutes to allow ample time for recharge and power transfer to the dead battery. Utilising a single, functioning battery to recharge another will provide enough energy for the dead battery to operate effectively.

Step 7: Start Your Car with a Dead Battery

The next step is to start the engine of the car with a dead battery.

If it is successful, start the vehicle using the previously dead battery. Keep it running for a few more minutes to ensure it is fully charged, and then proceed to the next step.

If it doesn’t start immediately, turn the key off and let the vehicle run idle for another 10 to 15 minutes. If it still doesn’t work, then your battery needs replacement, and jump-starting is no longer an option.

Step 8: Disconnect the Jumper Leads

Disconnect Jumper Leads

Carefully disconnect the cables in the reverse order from their placement in the vehicles.

  • First, disconnect the negative cable from the previously dead car
  • Second, disconnect the negative cable from the working car
  • Third, disconnect the positive cable from the working car
  • Fourth, disconnect the positive cable from the previously dead car

After completely disengaging the jumper cables and removing them from both cars, shut the hoods of each vehicle. Then, let your car run for a few minutes to ensure the battery has had adequate time to recharge.

The battery must have continued power to ensure its future operations, which can be achieved through proper maintenance.

Step 9: Keep Your Jumper Cables and Continue Testing

Store Jump Start Cables

Finally, store your jumper cables in your car and continue driving. It’s good practice to let it run for at least 30 minutes before turning off the ignition and parking your car.

Park your vehicle in an open area when you turn the engine off, in case your car needs another jump start. If it does, then the battery’s condition is declining, especially if it’s more than a few years old.

The best option to do after all these steps is to make a trip to an auto parts store. They can check if your battery needs replacement and test its voltage.


How Long Should I Let My Car Run After Getting A Jump Start?

It is highly recommended to let your vehicle run for at least 30 minutes after jump-starting. This will give the battery ample time to charge completely or at least sufficiently and restore its power.

Also, it’s difficult to precisely determine how long you should keep your car running after it has been jumped. Some of the factors to consider include:

  • the battery’s condition (holding capacity and health)
  • the amount of charge when it was initially jump-started
  • the size of the battery

What Will Happen If You Jump Start Your Car The Wrong Way?

Improper attempts to jump-start your car can damage various components. It may affect the battery, jumper cables, car electronics, fuses, and sensors. The most important thing to remember is yourself. There is a high risk of burning for amateur car owners.

Can I Jump Start a Car While the Engine Is On?

The first safety precaution to remember before jump-starting a car is switching off all electrical systems and devices. This includes lights, radio and CD players, and other electronic devices.

Second, ensure that both vehicles are turned off before connecting the jumper cables to their respective battery terminals.

Third, lower the driver’s window in case you mistakenly lock the door with the keys inside.

Will My Car Get Damaged from Jump Starting Another Vehicle?

Most of the time, providing a jump start to another person’s vehicle will not negatively affect your car. Taking charge of their battery is simple and can be done using your car. If the jump start is successful, there is no cause for alarm, and expect no serious damage to your donor vehicle.

If the jump-start is not executed correctly, there are possibilities for your car to sustain serious damage. So, it’s best to do some research before starting the procedure to avoid any unfortunate repercussions.

What Are the Risks of Jump Starting a Modern Car?

Modern cars have highly intricate electronic systems and components. They have many sensors, networks, processors, and embedded systems, which make them a system of systems.

ECUs and trip computers provide information on fuel efficiency, maintenance requirements, and standardised features such as airbags, Bluetooth, and cruise control.

If jump starting was done incorrectly, this could result in permanent damage to the automobile’s delicate circuitry. Also, a modern car’s onboard electronics can be subject to expensive damage when jump-starting. So, you should observe extra precautions.

Contacting an experienced mechanic or auto technician for professional assistance is always the best option before jumpstarting modern cars.

What Are the Signs of a Dying Car Battery?

Car batteries show signs before they finally stop working. Knowing these signs can help you know beforehand and avoid getting stranded due to a drained battery. Here are some of the most common signs that your car battery needs replacement:

1. Your Vehicle Takes Longer to Start

Has your vehicle started taking extra time to start than it normally did before? This may be accompanied by flickering lights or odd noises upon turning the key. These indicate that your battery is nearing its imminent failure. So, before it ultimately fails you, let an expert examine your vehicle’s system and battery condition.

2. Poor Performance During Cold Season

Car batteries lose 60% of their starting power during cold weather. This is why drivers in cold areas should give extra attention to their batteries during winter. Batteries may even freeze during extreme conditions, slowing down their chemical reactions. If this happens, go to repair shops and replace your batteries because newer batteries can handle cold weather more efficiently.

3. Car Has Been Unused for Too Long

Leaving your car for too long during an extended trip out of town can lead to a dead battery. Your driving activities affect your battery health. Thinking that your battery may suffer due to frequent drives is a misconception.

Driving regularly allows your battery to recharge. Hence, abandoning it for a long period can deplete its charge.

Also, it’s best to ask your family members or neighbours to look after your car from time to time when you are not around.

4. Windows Roll Slower

Car batteries are not always the reason for slow-rolling windows. It may also be caused by broken track guides or a faulty window motor. However, if both are proven to be in good condition, then it is time to get your battery checked.

You can roll your windows up and down while the engine is off. If they still take too long, then it’s more likely your car battery.

5. Dim lights

The car battery is the main source of all the electronics in your vehicle, such as lights and radios. A battery nearing its end of life will take longer to supply power to these things. Also, plugging in more devices, such as a massager in your car, while driving will drain its power faster.

Final Thought On How To Jump Start A Car

Jump starting a car can seem daunting, but these key steps have been broken down to be easily remembered. It can save time and money by avoiding the need for towing services or roadside assistance. From aligning both cars to disconnecting the jumper cables, you can finish the jump-starting process in less than an hour.

Always remember that safety should be your top priority. Ensure that both vehicles are turned off before connecting the jumper cables to avoid electrical damage to the vehicles.

We hope this guide has walked you through the steps to be more confident with jump-starting your vehicle!

Are you tired of being stranded on the side of the road with a dead car battery? If so, then it’s time to start taking your car’s maintenance seriously. And what better way to do that than by entrusting your vehicle to the experts at Mad Man Service Center?

Our team of experienced mechanics understands the importance of keeping your car in tip-top shape, and we’re committed to providing top-notch service that will help you avoid those dreaded dead batteries.

So don’t wait until you’re stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery. Trust the experts at Mad Man Mechanical Service Center to keep your car running smoothly and avoid those frustrating breakdowns. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment!

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