Last updated on November 6, 2019 at 10:38 am
The next time you go to start your car and nothing happens, do you know what to do next?
Well, there’s a decent chance you’ve got a dead battery. Most drivers will experience the frustration of a dead battery at least once in their lives (I’m up to three times). If you know how to jump start a car battery with cables, you’ll be able to revive it and be back on your way in just a few minutes.
Jumping a battery isn’t overly complicated, but you need to know a few specifics. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for any special instructions before proceeding. And, make sure you always put safety first and ask for professional help if you’re not comfortable with this task.
IMPORTANT: if you have a hybrid vehicle, stop now! There are special considerations to follow.
For most typical situations, here’s how to jump start a car battery with cables.
- In addition to a set of jumper cables, you’ll also need to borrow some “juice” from another car. A Good Samaritan or a friend will be able to help you out here. Tell your helper to park their car near yours so your vehicles are facing each other (this is the most ideal) or side-by-side. The key is to make sure you’re parked close enough so the jumper cables can reach.
- Make sure both cars are shut off with keys removed from the ignitions before popping the hoods.
- You’ll need to follow a specific order to attach the cables (this will help your chances of a successful jump and help prevent damage to both batteries). Some jumper cables will come with instructions that tell you which colored cable to connect to which side of the battery, but just in case
- attach the positive (red) clamp to the positive end of your dead battery
- attach the other positive clamp to the donor vehicle’s positive terminal
- connect the negative (black) clamp to the donor’s negative terminal
- connect the remaining black cable to a metal part on your car (such as a nut or charging post.)
- Once you’re all connected, stand back from the engine and start the donor vehicle. Then, wait a few minutes as the energy from the working battery transfers to your car. The longer the jumper cables, the longer the transfer will take.
- After about five minutes, you should be able to start your car. Remove the cables in the reverse order you attached them. Be careful to not let the cables touch one another.
Make sure to keep your car running and consider going for a drive around the area (at least 30 minutes); this will give your battery time to build itself back up and avoid having to jump it a second time in a row.
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