How to Jump Start a Car

Odds are that if you’re reading this you’re wondering how to jump start a car? Moreover, you’re likely in dire straights as your car is either dead on the side of the road or stuck in a icy parking lot with temperatures that are cold enough to freeze a mooses’ balls off. If you want to be prepared for any emergency, you’ll also want to read our JumpStart portable vehicle jump starter flashlight and power bank review.

What You’ll Need To Jump A Car

  1. Jumper cables (as shown above)
  2. Source of Power

How to Jump a Car With Another Car (Traditional Method)

How to jump a car with jumper cables
To jump a car with jumper cables match this diagram.

1. Pull the Cars Next To Each Other

First you’ll need to pull the running car along side the dead car. Look under the hood of both cars and determine which side the batteries are on. You may need to park the cars the same direction or opposite depending on the battery placement

2. Turn Both Cars Ignitions to OFF

Turn off both cars.  Take the keys out of the ignition if you’re at all worried about this.

3. Don’t Let the Leads Touch

Ensure that the Jumper Cable’s black and red leads, on either end, aren’t touching, as this could short the battery.

4. Lift the Hoods of Both Cars

Lift the hood on each car. It’s likely you’ll have to pull a lever on the driver’s side, under the steering wheel, and then find a release lever under the hood at the front of the car.

5. Open the Battery Terminals

Remove or open the battery terminal covers on both cars (some cars have this, but not all).

6. Attach the Jumper Cable

Next, attach the red lead to the red terminal on the good battery (it doesn’t matter which end of the cable).

7. Attach the Red Lead to Dead Battery

Then attach the other red lead to the dead battery’s red terminal.

8. Black Leads to Good Battery

Next, attach the black lead to the black terminal on the good battery.

9. Dead Car Black Lead

And then attach the dead battery car’s black lead to a non-painted metal surface on the dead battery’s car. You can attach it to the black terminal of the dead battery if needed. But it’s recommended you try the former first.

10. Start the Good Car

Start the car with the good battery.

11. Let it Run for a Minute

Once the good car is running, let it run for minute to drive some juice to the dead battery.

12. Try Starting the Dead Car

Then try starting the car with the dead battery. It should start.

13. Remove Both Cables

Begin with the jumped car by starting with the black lead then red lead. Then in the same order remove the leads from the other car. It helps to have this done simultaneously from the other car, but isn’t mandatory.

14. Don’t Turn Off

Finally, ensure that you don’t turn the jumped car off. Drive around for at least 15-30 minutes to power the car’s battery back up.

If the next day the car’s battery is dead, or whenever you attempt to start it again it’s likely that your car’s battery is beyond repair.  Or your alternator, or a component attached to the alternator may be broken or slowly failing.  A completely dead alternator will likely prevent the car from running at all, and perhaps even cause the car to stall during driving.  If the case is such, call AAA.  They’ll come to you, test your battery, and replace it on the spot if necessary or tell you to see a mechanic.  Alternatively, Costco is a great place to get a battery since they offer a no hassle return if for some reason the battery dies on you before 3-5 years.  That being said, a battery should be good for about 5 years, perhaps even more.  But eventually it will die.

How To Jump A Car Without Another Car (Jumper Pack)

Jumper Pack
A jumper pack can be stored in the back of a car and used to jump a car’s battery when dead.

For this method, instead of a car, you’ll need a Jumper Pack.  If you live in inclement weather, or far from civilization, I’d recommend buying one from your local Walmart, Amazon or a local hardware station.  Most if not all should have a set of jumper cable’s built-in.  If it doesn’t, don’t buy it.  Find one that does.

That said, there is no harm in having a jumper pack in the back of your car or truck, and it won’t take much space.  And trust me, you’ll be happy when your car’s battery goes dead and you’ve got this stowed away.

1. Jumper Pack Off

Ensure the Jumper Pack is set to OFF.

2. Lift the Hood on Dead Car

Lift the hood on the the car with the dead battery.

3. Remove the Cover

Remove the terminal battery covers revealing the red and black terminals (some of the best vehicles don’t have this).

5. Attach the Jumper Cables

Attach the Jumper Pack’s red cable lead to the red terminal. Next, attach the Jumper Pack’s black cable lead to the black terminal. 

6.Turn the Jumper Pack to “On”

Turn the Jumper Pack to the ON position and wait a minute to send some juice to the vehicle with the dead battery.

7. Start the Car

Then attempt to start the dead car If it works the car should start almost right up.

8. Jumper Pack to “Off”

Next, turn the Jumper Pack to OFF.

9. Remove the Leads

Remove the black lead from the black terminal. Remove the red lead from the red terminal. Replace the terminal/battery cover.

10. Drive the Car

Drive your car for 15 minutes to ensure the battery regains battery.

How to Jump a Car without Cables

Push Jump Start
No cables, no battery, no jump pack? Just push the car and pop the clutch, provided it’s manual.

This method requires that you have a manual (i.e. stick shift) car.  It also requires that you have a friend or two with you because they’ll need to push the car.

1. Find a Friend

First, feed your friend or promise a reward following this procedure.

2. Dead Car: Ignition in Drive (or On) Mode

Put the dead cars ignition into drive mode, or the mode that the key would switch to when driving.

3. Press the Clutch

Next, press the clutch and put the car into second gear. Keep the clutch pressed in.

4. Yell “Push”

Shout to your friend to push the car; “ok, push!!”

5. Quickly Release the Clutch

With some speed, ideally more than a slow lethargic roll, quickly release the clutch. The car should start.

6. Press the Clutch Back In

Just make sure to press the clutch back in so the car doesn’t stall. Or give the car some gas to ensure it doesn’t stall.

7. Drive the Car

Drive the car for 15 minutes or more to power the battery back up.

This concludes our how to jump start a car tutorial. Be sure to check out our car reviews guys.

Also why not check out:

Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."

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