If you’re in a hurry and just want a quick reference for how to jump start a car, here is a quick list of the steps to take to do that:
Position and Prepare
Park the car with the working battery next to the car with the dead battery so that the jumper cables can reach from one battery to the other. The best way to do this is to park so that the cars face each other.
Turn both cars off and open their hoods so that you can identify the battery’s positive (+) and negative (-) terminals. Remove any covering or grime on the terminal so that you can access the metal of the terminal. The positive terminal typically has a red cover, cap, or other identifying component.
Jumper cables typically have a set of red clamps and black clamps. If your set of cables are not color coded, it’s up to you to keep track of which clamp is attached to which terminal.
Connect the Terminals
Attach one of the red jumper cable clamps to the red positive (+) terminal on the dead battery and then attach the other red jumper cable clamp to the red positive (+) terminal on the working battery.
Attach one of the black jumper cable clamps to the black negative (-) terminal on the working battery and then attach the other black jumper cable clamp to a bare metal component inside the engine compartment of the car with the dead battery. Connecting the negative terminals likely won’t harm the car, but if the battery is leaking hydrogen gas, a spark can ignite it.
Start the Engine
Start the car with the working battery and let it run for 3-5 minutes. Then try to start the car with the dead battery. If it doesn’t work, wait another 3-5 minutes and try again. Revving the engine on the working car while trying to start the dead battery can help.
If the dead battery doesn’t start, check the connections between the clamps and the terminals. Also consult the owner’s manual to see how to access the fuses. There is typically a fuse panel and replacement fuses.
Wrap It Up
If the dead battery starts up again, you can disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order that you connected them. While any clamps are still attached, make sure the other clamps do not touch each other.
Close and latch the hoods of both cars. Let the car with the previously dead battery run for a few minutes, then take it on a short test drive to ensure that the charge holds.
If the charge doesn’t hold, it’s time to call a tow truck or mechanic.