Understanding The Do’s And Dont’s On How To Jump A Car

Kara Richards —  September 30, 2018

Everyone who owns a car should know how to jump a car. That’s because everyone who owns a car will have to jump-start it at some point. It’s inevitable. Even when there are so many measures to keep you from leaving your lights on, or draining your battery accidentally, it will still happen.

And if it doesn’t happen to you, you’re equally as likely to run into a friend, neighbor, or coworker who needs a jump start. That’s why having jumper cables in your car is part of being a responsible driver.

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Jumping A Car

How to jump a car

But it’s not just having the jumper cables that is important, it’s knowing how to use them. You have a vague understanding about how to jump a car. You have a theoretical knowledge if not a working knowledge, but you know that’s not enough. Jumping a car might look easy, but there are ways to easily do it wrong that are a danger to the cars and the people in them. So before you start connecting cables willy nilly, take a look at these do’s and don’ts of how to jump a car.

The Do’s Of Jumping A Car

The first trick of how to jump a car begins long before you have a dead battery and a stranded car. It begins with buying jumper cables and keeping them in your trunk. It also means locating your car’s owner’s manual and actually reading it.

How to jump a car

You don’t need to read it cover to cover, but every car is different when it comes to the location of the positive and negative terminals that you connect the jumper cables to, and it’s important to know where they are on your car.

So definitely do bookmark that spot in your manual, and take the time to pop the hood and make sure you understand what the manual is telling you. As important as owner’s manuals are, they often have vague or confusing wording and very grainy pictures. If what your manual says does not make sense, you can always turn to YouTube to find footage of your make and model car for clarity.

With a little background knowledge in your pocket, you are ready to actually jump-start a car. Maybe you’ve had your car battery for a while, and you were wondering when it would need replaced. Turns out it’s today, and you’re already running late.

You’ll want to start with both cars turned off and placed in either park or neutral. Then take out your jumper cables and identify the proper ends. The red cable is the positive cable. Remember that. Red equals positive.

You’ll connect the positive cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery, and then connect the red cable to the positive terminal of the good battery. Red cable. Positive to positive. So far, so good.

The negative cables are black. That kind of makes sense, right. Okay, so you place the negative cable on the negative terminal of the good car. On the stalled car, you will place the negative cable on a clean, unpainted metal surface.

Once the cables are placed correctly, you’ll start the engine on the good battery and run it for 2 to 3 minutes. With both engines off, you’ll remove the cables in the reverse of the order that you connected them starting with the negative cable on the engine block of the stalled car and proceeding from there.

Now it’s time to try to start the stalled car. Fingers crossed that it was just the battery. Take a little breath, maybe say a little prayer, and then turn that ignition key. Your car should start right up, and you’ll have just avoided a tow to the shop.

To make sure that the battery gets sufficiently charged before you turn the engine off, you should keep the car running for about 30 minutes.

The Don’ts Of Jumping A Car

Jump-starting a car is generally a pretty easy process, but it can still be dangerous to both you and your vehicle if done incorrectly. The biggest risk is shock, so you need to remember that both cars should be off before you start the process.

Also be sure to never to connect the negative cable of the stalled car to the negative terminal. Doing so risks shock or even explosion. Yikes. You also want to make sure not to lean over the battery during a jump-start, or try to jump-start a battery that is cracked or leaking.

Get Back On The Road Easily

If you follow these simple steps on how to jump a car, you will be able to safely and easily jump-start a car to get yourself, or someone you know out of a jam. It can be so frustrating when a car doesn’t start the way that it’s supposed to, but as long as you’ve got your jumper cables handy, it doesn’t have to ruin your day.

Kara Richards