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How To Jump Start a Car Battery

No matter how well you maintain your vehicle, a dead car battery is something any driver encounters at least a few times. If you notice the headlights are dim and the car is not starting properly, you might need to recharge the battery by jump starting your car. Jump starting a vehicle is very easy if you follow these simple steps.

What you'll need:

  • Working car battery - Use a vehicle with an active battery to supply power to the dead  battery.
  • Jumper cablesThese will transfer power from the active battery to the dead one.
  • Wire brush - A wire brush can clean corrosive material off the terminals if they're dirty.

Step 1: Park the Live Car Near the Dead One

It's ideal to have each car nose to nose, but sometimes the car with the dead battery might be in a difficult spot. As long as the jumper cables can connect to the terminals on the working and dead batteries without too much stress, you should be fine.

Step 2: Turn off the Engine

Make sure the engine and all electrical components inside the working and dead vehicles are off. Keep both cars in either park or neutral and use the parking brake.

Step 3: Check each Battery for Corrosion

Once you pop open the hoods, check to see if there is significant corrosion on each car battery. A thick, corrosive buildup can make charging difficult, so clean it with a wire brush before jump starting the dead battery.

Step 4: Locate the Positive and Negative Terminals

Each battery has specific indicators to determine which terminals are positive and negative. You'll typically notice a plus sign or the letters "POS" marking the positive terminal and a minus sign to marking the negative terminal.

Step 5: Attach the Red Clips to the Positive Terminals

The red clips on your cables are designated for the positive terminal. Attach one red clip to the working battery's positive terminal before attaching the other one to the dead battery's positive terminal.

Step 6: Attach the Other Clips to the Negative Terminals

Most cables use black clips for the negative terminals, but they can be another color other than red. Attach one black clip to the working battery's negative terminal. Attach the other clip to an unpainted metal piece on the dead car away from the engine to avoid sparks or other hazards.

Step 7: Start the Car with the Working Battery

Once you start the car with the live battery, keep it running for at least a minute before starting the dead vehicle. Slightly step on the gas pedal to rev the engine and charge the significantly drained battery more.

Step 8: Try to Start the Car with the Dead Battery

It might not start right away, so don't try turning it over too much. Let the dead battery sit for a bit longer to gain a charge if necessary. If the dead car doesn't start the next time, it might need a new battery.

Step 9: Safely Remove the Jumper Cables

When removing the jumper cables, don't let the red and black alligator clips touch each other when the other clips are still attached to one of the batteries. If they touch while the other clips are still attached, they can cause electrocution.