Nothing’s quite as annoying as hopping in your car, turning the key, and being met with nothing but a few sad clicking noises and realizing your car won’t start. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, congratulations! It’s better to learn how to jump-start your car before you need to do it, after all! Seize the moment and get yourself a much-needed new skill with this step-by-step guide on how to jump-start a car.

How to Jump-Start Your Car

What Is a Jump Start?

A jump start is a way to start a car with a dead battery. The best way to jump-start a car is by linking it up to another car or external power source. This gets you the juice you need to start the car and allows the car battery to begin recharging.

To jump-start a car, you’ll need a set of jumper cables. It’s best to get 4 to 6-gauge jumper cables at least 20 feet long, to perform this procedure. Keep a set in your car at all times, just in case!

1. Park the Second Car Next to Yours

The vehicle/good battery you’ll be borrowing juice from should be parked next to the car with the depleted battery so that you can use your jumper cables to connect the two. Keep in mind that, while the battery is usually in the engine component, it may also be hidden in the trunk. Check where the battery is located before you rearrange the vehicles.

2. Make Sure Both Engines Are Off

Your car is already dead, but the engine of the other vehicle should be turned off. Open both hoods and make sure the hand or parking brakes are on.

3. Connect Your Jumper Cables

To start the jump-starting process, link the red cable to the positive terminal on the second car with the working battery. It’s clearly marked with a + sign and will be easy to find. The positive terminal often has a lid, which you’ll need to remove. The other side of the jumper cable needs to be connected to the positive terminal of the car you’re trying to jump-start.

Next, connect the black jumper cable to the negative terminal of the second car. This, too, is clearly marked. The black cable is not connected to the negative terminal of the car with a dead battery! Instead, ground it by clamping it into any unpainted metal surface, like a bolt, under the hood.

Make sure the jumper cables aren’t in the way of any moving parts in the engine of either car.

Important Note: Make sure you never allow the clamps to touch while you’re connecting the jumper cables!

4. Start the Second Car

Let the car with a good battery run for 10 to 15 minutes and then try to start the car with the dead battery. If the car starts, your efforts were successful.

5. Disconnect the Jumper Cables

Leave the car with the (formerly) dead battery running. Carefully take the black clamp off the grounding point you selected and move it out of the way and onto the ground. Repeat the process to remove the red clamp, making sure not to let the two clamps touch.

You can now disconnect both clamps from the second vehicle, starting with the red clamp.

That’s it! Jumpstarting a car is daunting the first time, but it’s not difficult — and you can do it! Read your car’s owners manual to ensure there are no special circumstances with your vehicle before attempting a jump-start.

Dave & Rays Automotive Repair Shop in Omaha, NE

Our team has learned one thing: automotive problems are as varied and unique as the customers who bring them to us. Fortunately, our decades of experience in auto service and repair also mean that our skilled network of professionals is ready to accommodate an impressive scope of automotive issues. Contact us today.

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