How To Effectively Jump Start a Car

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One of the most important skills you need to learn and master, aside from knowing how to perform basic car maintenance checks and employing quick fixes, is to jump start a car. For most people, the task seems as pretty straightforward as connecting one’s car battery to the battery of another car. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that could go wrong, not to mention the safety implications of not doing the correct way of connecting a ‘dead’ battery to a ‘live’ one. Here’s how to effectively jump start your car and safely, too.
How To Effectively Jump Start a Car
Car battery with jumper cables, close-up.

Diagnosing a Dead Battery

Before you start taking out your jumper cables, it is imperative that you establish that you have a dead battery and not something else. If you turn on your ignition and you hear the engine crank but won’t start, you have two issues – your starter or your battery. The good news is that 85 to 90 percent of the time, it is the battery that is failing. Now, if you turn your car key and nothing happens – no lights, no engine cranking, and doesn’t start – then it is always a sure sign that your battery is dead.

If you can establish with absolute certainty that you have a dead battery under your hood, then bring out the jumper cables and get a Good Samaritan motorist to assist you in jump starting your car.


Here are some of the things you have to do first before jump-starting your car.

  • Park on an even terrain with your vehicle directly facing the Good Samaritan’s (donor) vehicle. Make sure that both vehicles are in ‘Park’ or ‘Neutral’ as well as the parking brakes engaged. You don’t want either car to be rolling out of its position.
  • Switch off the ignition on both cars. Remember that batteries pack electricity. Having both cars’ ignition systems turned off before applying the jumper cables should help ensure a safer jump-starting activity.
  • Bring out your jumper cables. It is always a good idea to have these cables safely tucked inside your trunk so you will not have any issues sourcing them.
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Do take note, however, that if either car has a fully electronic ignition system, it is not generally recommended that you jump start it as the jumper cables may damage the ignition system. The same is true if either vehicle runs on alternative fuel. As such make sure that you and the donor’s vehicle are safe for the jump-starting process.

Putting the Jumper Cables

Once all the preliminaries have been performed, you’re now ready to put on the jumper cables. Please take note that there is a sequence to be followed here. As such, we’ve decided to number the steps instead of the usual bulleted points. This is to make sure you proceed from Number 1 first before heading onto Number 2 and so on.

  • Take the red clamp of your jumper cable and connect this to the positive terminal of your ‘dead’ battery.
  • Take the other red clamp and connect this to the positive terminal on the donor battery.
  • Take the black clamp of your jumper cable and connect this to the negative terminal of the donor battery.
  • Take the other black clamp and clamp it on any unpainted and clean metal surface under your car’s hood.

Jump Starting Your Car

We really cannot help but emphasize the importance of following the above steps in its correct sequence since this is where many motorists fail. Once you’re done you’re ready to jump start your car.

  • Start the engine of the donor vehicle first. Allow the engine to run for about 2 to 3 minutes to help channel power to the ‘dead’ battery.
  • Start your engine. If your lights turn on and your engine cranks but won’t start, then you’ve got another problem in mind. In such cases, a starter might be the culprit. However, if you were able to start your engine without much trouble, then congratulations as you’ve successfully jump-started your car. But we’re not done yet.
  • Leave your car running to help recharge the battery.
  • Remove the jumper cables in exactly the reverse of how you put them on. This means you have to remove the black clamp on the metal strip first before disconnecting the black clamp on the donor battery’s negative terminal. Next, remove the red clamp on the donor battery’s positive terminal before removing the red clamp on your battery’s positive terminal. Here’s the thing. Whenever removing the jumper cable clamps, make sure that they don’t touch one another.
  • Keep your car running for another 30 minutes or so to help make sure your battery has enough time to recharge.
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Jump-starting Your Car without Cables

There is another way to jumpstart your car without having to rely on jumper cables. However, for this to work you will need to have a car with a manual transmission since this technique won’t work on an automatic. Additionally, you will need either one of these two:

  • A downhill road free of traffic
  • Several guys to help push your car

Here’s how to jumpstart your car without using jumper cables.

  • Depress the clutch pedal and engage the 1stgear of your car.
  • Turn the ignition to the “On” position.
  • If you’re on a road going downhill, lift your foot off the brake pedal and allow your car to start rolling. Make sure to keep the clutch pedal fully depressed.
  • If you have your buddies pushing your car, ask them to push it as fast as they possibly can.
  • Upon reaching a speed of about 5 to 7 MPH, quickly lift your foot off the clutch pedal. You should be able to start your engine this way. If it doesn’t start, depress the clutch pedal again and quickly release it.

Knowing how to jump start your car is a skill that every vehicle owner should learn and master by heart. At the very least you should no longer feel hapless if you suddenly see yourself being stranded on the road because of a dead battery.

Originally posted 2023-12-05 12:35:06.

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