How to Successfully Jumpstart Your Car

A dead battery is a constant worry of everyone who drives, and it’s bound to happen after years on the road.

Being unable to start your car due to a dead battery can be very frustrating, overwhelming, and expensive – especially if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere.

In order to avoid the huge hassle of calling a tow service, you can learn to jumpstart your car on your own using a pair of jumper cables.

All vehicles should come with jumper cables. It  might be a good idea to buy an extra pair for yourself, just so that you always know where they are. We also recommend a portable jump starter to help streamline the process and give your battery the life it needs right away. But whether you have just the jumper cables or something more advanced, we want to show you how to successfully jumpstart your car.
The following information can be crucial to saving yourself in a sticky situation. Don’t wait until it’s too late – follow these simple instructions to learn how you can jumpstart your car all on your own.

Before You Begin

Before you apply jumper cables to your car, WAIT! There are a few warnings you should heed before getting started. Not all cars can be jumpstarted this way, as some newer models come with pieces of equipment that are incompatible with the jumpstart process.
You cannot use jumper cables if:

● You have a vehicle with an electronic ignition system.
● You have a hybrid, electric, or alternatively-fueled vehicle.

Attempting to use jumper cables on these types of vehicles may inflict serious damage on your ignition system or other newer parts. However, if your car does not fit either of those two categories, then you are good to go. Continue to follow the instructions below so you can jumpstart yourself to safety!

What You’ll Need

Jumper Cables
Thankfully, there isn’t much you need in the way of materials. Although we recommend a portable jump starter, the only main device you really need are jumper cables. You can find these affordable cables at any hardware or department store. Be sure to keep them in your trunk at all times, as you never know when an emergency will strike.
The next thing you’ll need is a good samaritan to help you out. If your car battery died in the parking lot or on the side of the road, odds are you’ll be able to find someone who is willing to help out. You’ll need them to connect one end of the jumper cables to their own battery, which will help to give life to yours.
Another benefit of getting help from a friendly stranger is that in the event you don’t have jumper cables, they may be able to provide them for you.

Step 1: Prepare Your Engines

It is essential that both yours and the friend’s vehicles are in Park or Neutral. It is dangerous and ineffective to attempt to use jumper cables on a car that is in Drive. Be sure to put on both parking brakes as well, in the event that your car jumpstarts too quickly. You need to make sure that both vehicles are turned off as well, although you won’t have to worry too much about this step, since your car will already be off due to the battery being dead.

Step 2: Attach the Red Clips of the Jumper Cables

This step can be a bit tricky for an absolute beginner. However, there is nothing to fear! Once you learn how to recognize and identify the parts that you need to attach, and where to attach them to, you can easily and successfully jumpstart your car.

You will notice that your jumper clips have a black and a red side. One of each color will be attached to your car, while the others will be attached to your friend’s. First, take a look at one of the red clips. Attach it to the positive terminal on your car’s battery.

How can you tell which side of the battery is positive?

You can notice whether or not a terminal is positive or negative in a few different ways:

● It will say, “POS” on the positive terminal side.
● It will have a “+” on the positive terminal side.
● The positive terminal side will be bigger than the negative terminal side.

Once you have located the positive terminal on your car’s battery, attach one of the red clips. Then, attach the other red clip to the positive terminal on your friend’s car battery. Now you’re ready to move on to the next step.

Step 3: Attach the Black Clips of the Jumper Cables

This next part can be a bit tricky for beginners. Make sure to read the following instructions carefully, or else you won’t be able to successfully jumpstart your car. The black clips are treated a little differently than the red clips, and play a crucial role in transferring electricity from your friend’s battery to your own.
Take one of the black clips and attach it to the negative terminal on your friend’s battery. Make sure you don’t attach a black clip to your own negative terminal – this can overload the battery and cause it to be ineffective!

Then, take the next black clip, and clip it onto any unpainted metal surface in your car. Make sure it is not near your battery. A popular location for this black clip is one of the metal hooks that hold the hood of your car open. Look carefully to find an area that is made entirely of metal, is unpainted, and, especially, is away from your battery.

Black Clips
Once all four jumper cable clips are successfully attached in the right places, you can ask your friend to start their car.

Step 4: Start the Other Car

This is where your friend or the good samaritan helping you out plays a big role. They’ll need to start their vehicle at this point.

By starting the vehicle, the battery will begin to send electric energy into your dead battery, which will help to bring it back to life for a short while.

Make sure your friend keeps their vehicle running for a few minutes. They don’t need to move the car at all, but as long as they keep the engine running for a few minutes, this should be enough to provide the needed power to your own battery. They can keep their engine running for about five minutes for a safe estimate of time.

Step 5: Start Your Car

Jumpstart Your Car
After your friend has been running their engine for a few minutes, you can attempt to start your own vehicle. Put your key into the ignition and give it a start.

Now, one of two things will happen at this point. Either your car will start, or it will not. Read below for a list of instructions on what to do in each case.

If Your Car Does Start:
  • Do not turn your car off immediately! Try to keep your car on as long as possible. We recommend driving around for 15 to 20 minutes to recharge your battery, as your battery will recharge while the car is on.
  • The jumpstart was successful, but you should still keep a close eye on your battery. After the 20 minutes have passed, you may turn off your car. Attempt to turn it on again and see what happens.
    If the car won’t start the next time, then you need to replace your battery.
If Your Car Does Not Start:
  • Double check that all four jumper cable clips are properly connected. They need to be connected to the proper areas in order for the battery to work.
  • Ask the friendly stranger to run their engine for five more minutes. While this is typically enough time to jumpstart a battery, yours may need an extra few minutes to give it the push it needs.
  • Try starting your vehicle again. If it simply will not start, you are faced with a completely dead battery. The only solution at this point is to have your car towed and your battery replaced as soon as possible.

Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late!

As you can see, jumpstarting your car can be a simple and quick process. As long as you’ve got the proper jump cables and a friendly samaritan to help you out, you should be in good hands. In most cases, after successfully jumpstarting your car, your car should be good to go. If you’ve tried starting your vehicle several times after jumpstarting, and it still won’t turn on, then you’ll need to take it into the shop.
Are you worried that you won’t be able to find someone to help you during your time of need? There are some great portable jumpstarters out there to help you get the job done all by yourself. Check out our portable jumpstarter articles to find more information about these helpful pieces of equipment.
It’s impossible to tell when your battery will die, and it’s always an inconvenience when your car won’t start. But now that you know how to successfully jumpstart your car, you will hopefully be more prepared should that emergency arise. Don’t worry, you are capable of getting your car up and running again – the power is literally in your hands!