How to Jumpstart a Car

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If you’ve ever accidentally left your headlights on and come back to find your car battery drained, then you know the sinking feeling associated with figuring out what to do next. Jumpstarting a car battery is a fairly simple process but it helps to have the right tools and a fellow citizen to help you out. In this article, Part 1 advises keeping jumper cables in your car at all time, Part 2 explains that you need a donor vehicle, and Part 3 tells you how to find the batteries and attach the jumper cables.

Part 1 of 3: Locate some jumper cables

It’s a good idea to always keep jumper cables in your vehicle. You never know when you might need them, or you might be in a position to help someone else out.
Keep jumper cables stored safely in your trunk in the event that you (or someone else) needs them.
Don’t opt for the longest set of jumper cables you can find. Shorter ones are more effective, and you rarely need the extra length.
You can find great deals for jumper cables online, like these from Amazon.

Part 2 of 3: Find another vehicle that can help you out

You’ll need another car to help jumpstart your own. Don’t try to jumpstart electric vehicles or vehicles that have an alternative fuel source—this could cause damage! The car you are using to jump start your own should have a similar battery voltage.
Step 1: Position the cars. Face the cars toward each other, put both vehicles in park, open up the hoods, and turn off the engines.
Step 2: Don’t let the cars touch. Make sure the vehicles are not touching each other.
Step 3: Keep small children away from the area.
Step 4: Engage the parking brake. Use the parking brake for extra security.

Part 3 of 3: How to identify your car’s battery and the battery on the other car

Each battery should have a positive and a negative terminal. These are usually denoted by a + or - sign, or they might say POS or NEG. They usually have a corresponding red and black color.
Step 1: Attach one red clip to the positive side of your car’s battery.
Remember that the positive side might be red, and will be labeled with a + or POS.
Step 2: Attach the other red clip to the positive side of the other car’s battery.
Step 3: Attach one black clip to the negative side of the other car’s battery.
Remember that the negative side might be black, and will be labeled with a - or NEG.
Step 4: Attach the other black clip to an unpainted metal surface away from the battery.
You can use the metal bar that holds the hood up, or a clean nut on the engine block.
Step 5: Start only the working (donor) vehicle.
Let the vehicle run for a few minutes to let the battery charge take effect.
Step 9: Try starting your vehicle (the one with the dead battery).
If the car starts, then you are clear to disconnect the jumper cables. Start with the black (negative cables) and be sure not to let any of the cables touch while they are still in use.
Step 10: Keep your vehicle running to allow the battery to recharge.
Do not turn off your vehicle once you have successfully started it. You will need time to let the battery re-charge. Aim to keep it running for at least 15 minutes.
  • Tips: If the car won’t start with the jumper cables attached, you can try a few things to correct the problem:
  • Check the connections to make sure they are secure. You might need to clean off the battery terminal.
  • Let the other car run for up to five minutes with your car turned off. The battery might take more time to start.
If these tips don’t work, then it might be a bigger issue. Batteries don’t last forever, so it could be that your battery is depleted. In this case, you should get your car checked out by a professional.

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