Jumpstart A Car: Step-by-Step Guide

Imagine being stranded in the middle of nowhere, with your car refusing to start due to a dead battery. Wouldn’t you wish you knew how to jump a car and get back on the road? Knowing how to jump-start a car is an essential skill that can save you time, money, and the frustration of waiting for assistance. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of jump-starting a car, covering everything from the essentials to alternative methods and even caring for hybrid or electric car batteries.

Key Takeaways

  • Jump-starting a dead car battery requires appropriate jump leads, safety precautions, and a donor car with the same voltage to safely transfer power.
  • Properly connecting the red positive lead and black negative lead during the jump start process is essential for success.
  • Regularly checking your car’s battery health helps maintain optimal performance and longevity. Specialized knowledge may be required when caring for hybrid or electric cars.

Essentials for Jump-Starting a Dead Car Battery

Jump-starting a dead car battery requires certain items and tools. Most importantly, you’ll need jump leads, which serve the key function of transferring power from a donor car’s battery to the dead battery. Ideally, jump leads should be long and thick. A thicker cable allows for a higher electrical current transfer, delivering a more effective boost to a depleted battery. Jump leads should ideally be 3 meters (10 feet) long, but you might need longer cables if you’re stuck in a tight spot.

Safety should be your top priority when jump-starting a car. Here are some important steps to follow:

  1. Consult the owner’s manual before attempting to jump-start a vehicle.
  2. If you’re not confident in your abilities, it’s advisable to seek professional assistance.
  3. Incorrectly connecting the jump leads may result in damage to the car’s battery or other electrical components.
  4. The donor car must have a fully charged battery with the same voltage as the intended vehicle, typically 12 volts.

Identifying Your Battery and Setting Up

Before attempting to jump-start your car, make sure the batteries of both cars are undamaged and that the cables are in good condition. To begin the jump-start process, position the two vehicles close to each other, ensuring that their engine blocks are accessible for connecting the jump leads.

Connecting the jump leads in the correct order is critical for a successful jump start.

Connecting the Red Positive Lead Correctly

Connecting the red positive lead correctly is key to a safe and successful jump start. Start by locating the positive terminals of both the dead and donor car batteries, identifiable by the “+” symbol on the battery. Attach the red jump lead’s crocodile clip to the positive (+) terminal of the dead car’s battery, squeezing the handles to open the jaws and clamping them tightly around the terminal to ensure a secure metal-to-metal connection.

Next, connect the other end of the red positive lead to the donor car’s battery, ensuring that it’s not in proximity to any other metallic objects. This guarantees that the electrical current flows in the correct direction, avoiding potential harm to the electrical systems of both vehicles.

Attaching the Black Negative Lead Safely

When connecting the black negative lead during a jump start, always prioritize safety. Locate the negative terminal on the donor car’s battery, identifiable by its black color-coding or the presence of a negative (-) sign marked on the terminal. 1. The first step is to connect the black jump lead to the donor car’s battery negative terminal.

  1. This should be done before connecting any other part of the lead..

Next, attach the other end of the black negative lead to an earthing point on the dead car, typically located at the end of the negative lead and secured to a solid part of the chassis. When connecting the black negative lead, ensure that you are standing away from the battery and avoiding any sparks that could ignite hydrogen gas in the vicinity.

Initiating the Jump Start Process

Once the jump leads are securely connected, you can begin the jump start process. Start the donor car’s engine and allow it to idle for about five minutes before attempting to start the dead car with the engine block receiving the necessary power.

This step lets the donor car transfer some power to the dead battery, which increases the chance of a successful jump start.

When to Attempt Starting the Dead Car

The best time to try starting the dead car hinges on various factors, like the type of car (electric, hybrid, gasoline) and the specific steps for connecting the jump leads. It’s generally advisable to wait for three minutes after starting the donor car’s engine, allowing the voltages on both batteries to equalize. After this time has passed, you can attempt to start the dead car.

If the car still doesn’t start after attempting to jump-start it, turn off the working car, adjust the clamps carefully to ensure a secure connection, and try to start the car again.

Post-Jump Starting Procedures

Congratulations! You’ve successfully jump-started your car. What comes next? Following the correct procedures after jump-starting is critical to maintaining your car battery’s health. Drive normally for at least 30 minutes or use a portable car battery charger to recharge the battery.

When disconnecting the jump leads, follow the reverse order of the connection process:

  1. Start with the black clamp on the unpainted metal surface.
  2. Then, remove the black clamp from the functional battery.
  3. Next, remove the red clamp from the functional battery.
  4. Finally, remove the red clamp from the inoperable battery.

Troubleshooting: When the Car Won’t Jump Start

Sometimes, a car may not start even after following all the steps. In such instances, troubleshooting and identifying potential problems are necessary. Common causes of a car not starting can include:

  • A dead or defective battery
  • Loose or corroded battery terminals
  • A faulty alternator
  • A malfunctioning starter motor
  • Malfunctioning jumper cables
  • A clogged fuel filter

To determine if the jumper cables are the cause of a failed jump start, examine the protective rubber coating for warmth, inspect the cables for frayed wires or missing insulation, ensure secure connections to the battery terminals, and observe any obvious damage. If needed, replace the battery, alternator, starter motor, jumper cables, or clean the fuel filter.

Alternative Methods: Push Starting and Using a Battery Booster Pack

If you can’t jump-start your car with another vehicle, you should consider alternative methods. Push starting, also known as bump starting, involves starting the car by pushing it instead of using a battery-powered starter motor or gaining power from a booster vehicle. To push start a car, place it in second gear, release the clutch quickly as the car gains momentum, and the engine should start.

Another alternative is using a battery booster pack, a device designed to jump-start a car battery without the need for another vehicle. To use a battery booster pack, connect the integrated crocodile clips to the battery’s positive terminal and to an earthed point, then switch on the car and detach the power pack, leaving the engine running to recharge the battery.

Maintaining Your Car’s Battery Health

Maintaining your car battery’s health is critical for optimal performance and longevity. Car batteries typically have a lifespan of approximately five years, and the ideal voltage output for a car battery is 12.6 volts or higher. If you notice a battery blip after jump-starting your car, experience sudden battery failure, or if the battery outputs less than 12 volts, it may be time to replace the battery.

If you have breakdown cover, a professional can assess your battery and determine if it needs a recharge or replacement. Regularly checking your battery’s health and replacing it when necessary ensures smooth operation and helps you avoid being stranded with a dead battery or a flat battery.

Caring for Hybrid or Electric Car Batteries

Hybrid or electric car batteries require specialized care and maintenance. For electric car batteries, try to avoid charging the battery from a completely cold state and aim to maintain the battery charge level between 20% and 80%.

You should be aware that most hybrid cars have two batteries – a regular 12-volt battery and a high-voltage battery pack – when jump-starting them. Identifying and connecting to the right battery is crucial, and given the special equipment and training needed, it’s advised to get a professional to jump-start a hybrid vehicle.

Caution and proper knowledge are necessary before attempting to jump-start electric cars. While electric cars can be jump-started from a gas-powered engine, you should always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines beforehand.


In conclusion, knowing how to jump-start a car is an invaluable skill for any driver. This step-by-step guide has covered the essentials of jump-starting a car, from identifying the battery and setting up to troubleshooting when the car won’t start and caring for hybrid or electric car batteries. By following the proper procedures and safety precautions, you can confidently jump-start your car and be back on the road in no time.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By maintaining your car’s battery health, you can ensure smooth operation and avoid being stranded with a dead battery. Stay prepared, and happy driving!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the correct way to Jump-Start a car?

To jump-start a car, connect the red clamp to the positive post on the dead battery, and the other red clamp to the positive post on the working battery. Connect the black clamp to the negative post on the working battery, then to an unpainted metal surface of your car. Start the working car, revving the engine slightly, before attempting to start your car.

Which jump lead first?

Always start with the red jump lead, connecting one end to the flat battery’s positive terminal and the other end to the boosting battery’s positive terminal. Then attach the black lead to the boosting battery’s negative terminal.

What order do you remove jumper cables?

Disconnect the cables in reverse order: first remove the negative cable from the car you jumped, then the negative cable from the car with the good battery, and finally the positive cable from the car with the good battery.

What is the ideal voltage output for a car battery?

For optimal performance, a car battery should have an output voltage of 12.6 volts or higher.

Can hybrid or electric cars be jump-started?

Yes, hybrid and electric cars can be jump-started, but proper safety guidelines and manufacturer instructions must be followed.