How to Jump Start Your Car: The Safe Way!

Car batteries can be annoying sometimes. It has happened to all of us when we accidentally leave our car door open or maybe leave the lights on and the battery drains overnight. And it happens at unexpected times, only.

In that situation, your car battery is not going to have enough power to turn over the starter motor that is going to start your engine. So you need to charge your battery a little bit before it can start your vehicle.

It is not really that hard to jump-start a car once you know a proper and safe way of doing it. The most important thing is to always have jumper cables available to you. They are not that expensive and everyone can afford to buy a pair and store it in their car. You never know when you are going to need them.

[su_box title=”Important” box_color=”#dec015″]Your jumper cable should be at least 6-4 gauge (2 gauge is best). And should be as long as possible.[/su_box]

I have made up my own jumper cables, because I like DIY. They might not look the pretty but they does their job very well.

Keeping a jumper cable in your car can also make you feel like a superhero. Who doesn’t want to be?

[su_box title=”Warning!” box_color=”#cc1719″]Make sure you are in the well-ventilated area when working with batteries. Lead Acid Batteries produce harmful corrosive gases that you should always avoid breathing. If you are working in your garage, make sure to turn on ventilation.[/su_box]

How to Jump-start Your Car?

Here is the full step-by-step process to jumpstart your car when you don’t have anything other than another dead car-

1. Parking

Turn off both vehicles and take the keys out of ignition prior jump starting. Make sure the jumper car (good car with good battery) is next to the car with the dead battery. It is best if they are nose to nose (make sure both vehicles are not touching each other) but it might not be possible in some situations which is totally fine.

2. Pop the Hood

Pop the hood of both cars. Usually, the hood release lever is by the driver’s foot or under the steering wheel of your car. Some cars also have a safety latch under the hood which you need to unlock to open the hood.

3. Lay out Your Jumper Cables

Untangle the jumper wires and lay them out so no one can pull on them.

jumper cables untangled on the ground

You will notice that there are two ends on the jumper cable. Two black ends on the black cable and two red ends on the red cable.

The black terminals indicate negative – (or ground) and red terminals indicate positive +.

[su_box title=”Important” box_color=”#dec015″]Make sure both cars are turned off completely to avoid any sparks or hazards.[/su_box]

4. Find Positive (+) Terminal

red terminal on the car battery

Now you need to find the positive (+) terminal on the battery of the dead vehicle and jumper vehicle.
This terminal is usually indicated by a + sign or red color. If there is a plastic cover protecting the terminal, you can easily remove it by pulling on it.

5. Connecting Red Wire to Dead Vehicle

red positive wire on positive terminal of battery

On the dead vehicle, you need to connect the red wire to the positive (+) terminal of the battery and place the black wire on a well-insulated part (away from any metal surfaces) on your car. We are starting from the dead battery because it does not have much energy which makes it safe to start here.

6. Connecting Red Wire to Jumper Vehicle

red jumper cable connected to jumper car's battery

Then you need to connect the red wire to the positive (+) terminal of the battery on the jumper (good) car.

7. Connecting the Black Wire to Dead Vehicle

black jumper wire to the negative terminal on the dead car

Now on the jumper vehicle, you need to connect the black wire to the negative (-) terminal on the battery. If there is any protective plastic covering the negative terminal of the battery, you can remove it to make sure the connection is good. In my case, there was no protective cover on the negative terminal of the battery.

8. Connecting Black Jumper Wire to Good Vehicle.

Now you need to connect the other black end of the jumper cable to a solid (unpainted) ground point on the good car.

black jumper cable on the good car's ground terminal

You might be thinking that you need to connect the black wire to the negative terminal on the battery but this is not the case. This is to avoid any sparks that might occur on the battery terminal which can result in hazards.

Make sure you connect the black cable to good, solid ground on your dead car. Some cars have ground spots (away from batteries) for jump-starting your car. You can see your user manual for it. If your car does not have it, check for an unpainted metal part, that is not moving, not connected to any electrical component, or is near the fuel lines.

[su_box title=”Important” box_color=”#dec015″]Before turning on the cars, make sure that all the wires are away from any moving parts like radiator fan and serpentine belt.[/su_box]

9. Jumping Starting: Step 1

Now you can turn on and start the supporting car and let it run for about 2 to 5 minutes. This will charge the dead battery enough that you can start your dead car.

10. Jumping Starting: Step 2

Now get inside the dead car and try starting it. It might take some motor spins but it should start up.

[su_box title=”Warning!” box_color=”#cc1719″]Make sure you always connect the jumper cables to clean and solid metal connections. This will avoid any risk of spark which can result in a fire hazard.[/su_box]

What to Do if Your Car Won’t Start?

  • If you go to start your car and it slowly drags the starter motor and won’t start, you should let the car sit for about 5 more minutes. This will help to charge your dead battery a little bit more so it has enough energy to start your car.
  • If it seems like you are really close to starting your car but can not start it. Get the other person in the supporting car to rev up the engine to about 2000 RPM and then try starting it again. This will make the alternator spin fast, creating more electricity which will help start your car.
  • Try checking the jumper cable connections. Sometimes there might be a corrosive layer on the positive terminal of the battery. You can also try changing to another solid ground. A lot of the times, switching to another ground point can help start up your car.

If after all this, your car still won’t start and it just clicks, this could mean a few things. Your car battery can be completely dead. There could be a dead cell inside or maybe a short. This means that you probably need to change out your car battery.

Once your car has started you should probably keep it running for some time to charge the battery. If you shut it off immediately you risk the chances of killing your car battery.

Removing jumper cables.

Now you need to know the proper and safer way of removing the jumper cables.

1. Remove Black Cable from Dead Car

Hopefully, now your “dead car” isn’t dead anymore and running as it should be. So now you need to remove that black cable that you connected to the ground on the car.

2. Remove Black Cable from Good Car

Now remove the black cable from the supporting vehicle’s negative terminal of the battery.

3. Remove Red Cable From Dead Car

Then you can remove the red cable from the positive terminal of the dead car’s battery.

4. Remove the Red Cable Good Car

Remove the red cable from the supporting car’s positive terminal of the battery.

5. Reinstall Everything

Finally, Reinstall all protective plastic caps on to the battery terminals that you previously removed and close the hood.

[su_divider divider_color=”#be8100″ link_color=”#966805″ size=”2″ margin=”10″]

Jumpstarting your car with another car isn’t always convenient. You can’t always find the person with a good car that is willing to let you jump start your vehicle especially if you are stranded somewhere like on the side of the road. Moreover, you can’t follow this same procedure to jump-start your car in the rain.

I tested 19 jump starters (from different brands and price range) and found the best ones that are not too expensive, offers versatility, and have all the safety features. You can read my review here.

If your car loses charge in two to three days or overnight regularly. Then you should get your car battery checked at a local auto repair shop. They usually can run the test for free and offer you a diagnostic report of exactly how much charge is left in your car. They can also help you recycle the battery properly (for free) so it is good for the environment.

If you think there is something I have missed in this article, please leave it in the comment below. I will try to improve this resource. However, before finishing the article, you may check an article I wrote on how to Jump Start a BMW X1.

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About Frank Diaz

Hi everyone, my name is Frank Diaz and I am the face behind GaragestPicks. I studied Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and worked as a mechanic for over 20 years. I love working on cars and doing DIY projects around the house. I write this blog to share my knowledge and help others fix their cars with most common tools.

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