How to Jump Start Your Car

Ok, back to cars!  If you missed my previous Independence Week posts, which include how to wash and wax your car, how to replace a taillight, and how to operate a miter saw, be sure to check them out!  
Now, everyone needs to know how to jump start a car.  It’s a survival skill.  I once was stranded with a dead battery and the only person available to help me was a 25-year-old yuppie with an Audi who didn’t even know what jumper cables were.  Therefore, yes, there are men who are clueless about cars in this world!  🙂
If you find yourself stuck with a dead battery, you will need the following items in order to jump start your car:
1.  Your car (Captain Obvious), a.k.a. “Sick Car”
2.  Another car, a.k.a. “Helper Car”
3.  Jumper cables
4.  Work gloves, if they’re available
I suggest that everyone keeps a pair of jumper cables in their trunk.  Even if you have a brand new vehicle, you never know when disaster may strike, and you can’t always depend on the people helping you to have them, either.  So, be prepared!
Now, the first thing you need to do is to park the Helper Car within close proximity of the Sick Car.  You just need to be close enough so that your jumper cables will reach both car batteries.  Sometimes this can get tricky, especially if the Sick Car is in a crowded parking lot or surrounded by a curb.  In this case, just put the Sick Car in neutral gear and ask someone to help you push it out of its space and next to the Helper Car.
Once that is settled, make sure that the engines are turned off on both vehicles and pop the hoods of each car.  Reach under the hood to find the latch.  If you’ve never done this before, sometimes you’ve just got to fiddle around for a while to find it.  Every car is different.  This is the hood latch on my Mustang, which is posing as today’s Sick Car.
Once you’ve found the latch and released it, hoist up the hood using the lever that is found toward the front of the hood, and insert the tip of the lever into the hole underneath the hood.  This hole should say “prop” or have some other indicating marks on it.  If you’re unsure, consult your owner’s manual.  Make sure that the lever is secure, because you don’t want the hood to crash down on you.

This is the hood latch on Evan’s newer Mustang, the Helper Car.  You can see here how different it looks from mine.
And here’s his prop.

Now you are ready to jump start your Sick Car.
Locate the batteries of each car.  They vary in location, so if need be, you might have to rearrange the positioning of the Helper Car, depending on whether or not your jumper cables will be able to reach both batteries.  
This is the battery of Evan’s Helper Car.
And this is the faulty culprit of my Sick Car.
Next, put on your work gloves.  In my research on how to jump cars, I’ve found that there’s a lot of debate as to the exact method to hook up the cables.  Here’s mine, and it’s never failed.  Connect the red cable’s jaws onto the positive terminal of the Helper Car’s battery, leaving the paired black cable dangling next to the car.  You can tell which terminal is positive and negative because they are typically color-coordinated and/or have a + or – sign next to them.
It should be a tight connection with the metal of the terminal.  Sometimes you have to shimmy it to make it stay.
Then, attach the other red cable jaws to the Sick Car’s positive terminal of the battery.

Return to the Helper Car and attach the first black cable jaws onto the negative terminal.

Now, this is the most important thing to remember.  When connecting the final black cable to the Sick Car, do not place it on the battery’s terminal; this could cause an explosion (extremely rare, but better to be safe than sorry).  Instead, place it onto a grounded part of your car’s frame.  The easiest way to find a good spot is to follow the negative lead from the battery.  There should be an offshoot fairly close to that and is bolted to the frame.  As shown below, I placed the jaws onto a bolt connected to the frame because the frame’s paint may hinder the charge.

And now you’re ready to charge.  Turn on the Helper Car, wait a few seconds, then turn on the Sick Car.  If the Sick Car isn’t cranking or still doesn’t seem to have power, try adjusting your placement of your black cable on the Sick Car. If this doesn’t help, check the connections for each cable one at a time.  Only ever touch one cable at a time and try to avoid leaning on the car.
Once the Sick Car’s engine is running, you may remove the cables in reverse order:  Black cable from Sick Car, black cable from Helper Car, red cable from Sick Car, and red cable from Helper Car.  Then, release the lever and let drop the hood back into place. 

They say that you should keep the Sick Car running for a good thirty minutes to recharge the battery, so go for a long drive, preferably one on a highway or an area where you won’t sit in stop-and-go traffic.
I hope this helps!  It’s always good to know these things.  🙂

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11 thoughts on “How to Jump Start Your Car”

  1. Great post! I have been doing this for years…lots of times. 😉
    Another note- for some reason, all batteries aren't made where the terminal is easy to access. WHY? I have no idea. On my last car(minivan), it was way on the side where you could barely see or reach it, so KNOW ahead of time where to even look, just in case.


  2. MUSTANG PARTY!! (This is what I yell out whenever I see two Mustangs together, which happens quite often at my house!) Great post – very helpful, from a fellow Mustang lover.


  3. This would definitely be a big help for people who are having problems with dead batteries. In addition, when you do this, check the battery first to be sure there are no cracks and leaking liquid. You should also check for corrosion around the battery terminals. And if there is corrosion, clean the terminal first with a wire brush before attempting the jump.


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