How To Jump Start a Vehicle

car's engine with jumper cables on car battery

It can happen at any time, and it often happens at the worst time. That's right, we're talking about a dead car battery. The problem is, many people don't know how to jump start a vehicle if the battery dies.

This is one of those life skills that you'll be grateful you learned, believe us. Whether it's your own car that needs some help or you get a call from a friend who needs a jump, it's important to know how to jump start a vehicle. If you've got no idea where to begin, don't worry, we'll go through every step so you know exactly what to do.

Let's get started. 

Necessary Tools

To jump start a vehicle, you're going to need a couple of items. The first is jumper cables and the second is a power source like an RB Battery

Jumper cables are long, thick insulated cables that have clips on one or both ends. These toothy clips are called alligator clips (you can guess why). These clips are identified by color, usually red and black, to indicate negative and positive polarity. 

The red clip is positive and the black clip is negative.

The power source you need is a jump box that comes with special jump cables. Jump boxes are portable batteries that are used to jump start a vehicle without having to connect to another vehicle. The special cables connect the jump battery directly to the dead car battery. 

That's the jump start equipment you'll need, let's learn a little bit about car batteries.

Some Information on Car Batteries

Most of the population doesn't know too much about car batteries--and that's okay! When it comes to how to jump start a car, you just need to know more about the basics. 

Car batteries have two large numbs, these are called terminals. There's a positive terminal and a negative terminal, you'll see that each of them is clearly marked. To give power to a dead battery, it's essential to connect the cables to the right terminal.

The positive terminal is often the bigger of the two terminals and it's marked POS or +. This will connect to the positive clip on the jumper cable, which is usually red. The negative terminal is marked with a NEG or - and it'll attach to the other clip, which is usually black.

How to Jump Start a Vehicle

Great, we got through the tidbits in the beginning. Now we can get down to business.

The good news is that jump starting a vehicle is pretty simple, you just need to be aware of what connects to what. Follow these instructions thoroughly.

Check the batteries by making sure the battery giving the jump has enough voltage and is a matching voltage system type; as in 12V, 6V, etc. Prepare the cars by putting them both in park or neutral, turning the ignition off, and put on the parking brake.

Then, open the hood of each car. 

It's time to attach the alligator clips to the terminals! Do this in the following order:

  • Red to dead: connect red, or positive, clip to the positive terminal on the battery of the dead car
  • Red to the donor: connect the red clip to the positive terminal on the donor battery
  • Black to the donor: connect the black clip to the negative terminal of the donor car
  • Black to metal: connect the black clip to an unpainted metal area of the dead car that isn't next to the battery, many people use the metal struts that hold the hood open

Then, start the donor car so that the battery can start providing power to the dead battery. Idle the donor car, so it can run for a handful of minutes.

Now it's time to test the interior light of the car being jump started. If it turns on, there is likely enough power.

Finally, you can start the dead car.

The Car Is Jump Started!

If the car turns on, congratulations, you learned how to jump start a car. It isn't over yet though, you have a couple more steps to follow before you're finished.

You'll need to unclip the clips in the reverse order you connected them. This means black clip on the unpainted metal, black clip from the negative terminal, red clip from the donor car, and red clip from the dead car's battery.

Let the car run without stopping for a minimum of 10-20 minutes.

The Car Didn't Start 

There may be a time that the dead car doesn't start even after being powered for a few minutes. If that's the case, check the connections and repeat letting the car giving the jump run. Try to start the car again. 

If after you've done all this the car still doesn't start up, the battery might be too far gone to power back up.

Other Helpful Tips

That's basically it! We told you it'd be simple. Once you've done it a few times, you'll be a professional. 

Before we let you go, there's a handful of tips and tricks to help ensure that you jump start a car as effectively and safely as possible.

Be sure to read the owner's manual before jump starting a car for the first time, it may seem like a boring read but it can provide necessary information for a vehicle you may not know much about.

If the battery is cracked or leaked, don't jumpstart the car; this can cause an explosion.

Also, be sure your cables are of good quality otherwise you'll be wasting your time and wondering why you can't get the car to start.

Start Your Engines

No one wants to be in a situation where they need their car jumped, but it happens all the time and everyone should know how to jump start a vehicle. The best part about learning how to do this is that you don't need much and it's simple to learn.  You can even start teaching any of your friends who want to learn how to jump start a car. 

Looking for articles similar to this? Check out the automotive section of our blog!


Share this article!

Follow us!

Find more helpful articles: