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MAIN Arrow to Shopping CarsCars Arrow to Car Repair & Maintenace Car Repair & Maintenance Arrow to Jump Start a Car How to Jump Start a Car

Changing a flat tire on the side of the road
Connect positive to positive,
negative to negative.


Sometimes your battery gives up. At other times the charging system just fails, in which case you're out of luck.

But more likely, you simply parked the car and forgot to turn off the lights, draining whatever power your battery has stored up for the trip home.

Hey, it happens.

When it does, a good pair of heavy gauge jumper cables stored in the trunk becomes a lifeline to getting back up to speed, either for yourself or for a fellow-traveler who's stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery.

Safety first

Before you try jump starting a car, think safety:

  • Attempting to jump start a damaged battery can result in serious injury from possible acid explosion or resulting fireworks. If the battery casing is cracked or bulging slowly back away from the vehicle and call a tow truck.

  • Another possible bad science experiment is when "hot jumper cable meets FROZEN car battery". In cold weather, it's a disaster waiting to happen.

  • For these and other reasons, never lean directly over the battery while connecting the cables, and wear goggles if you have them.

  • Never smoke or allow sparks or flames near a car battery.

How to jump start a car

  • With both cars turned off, position them front-to-front or parallel, and open both hoods.

  • Identify the positive and negative terminals on each battery and connect one RED clamp from the jumper cables to the POSTIVE (+) terminal on the dead battery.

  • Now connect the other RED clamp to the POSTIVE (+) terminal on the live battery.

  • Connect one BLACK clamp to the NEGATIVE (-) terminal on the live battery.

  • Now connect the other BLACK clamp to a ground somewhere on the engine block away from any moving parts. DO NOT CONNECT THE SECOND NEGATIVE CABLE TO THE SECOND NEGATIVE TERMINAL of the dead battery unless you want to see flying sparks.

  • Attempt to start the disabled car. If it doesn't, start the engine on the live car and allow the battery in the disabled car to charge for a few minutes.

  • Try starting the disabled car again. Once the car starts, disconnect the jumper cables in the exact reverse order, being careful not to touch the clamps to each other or anything else on the cars.

  • Allow the jumped car to idle for 15-30 minutes to allow the battery to charge completely before getting back on the road.

More about jump starting a car around the Web:

DIY - Jump Start a Car

How to Jump-Start

also see -> How to replace an air filter | How to change a car battery

How to do an oil change | How to change a tire

For informational purposes only. For complete expert advice,
see your car dealership or professional auto mechanic.

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