A dead battery can really ruin your day.
Maybe you left the lights on all day. Maybe you have an old battery that can no longer hold a charge and needs replacing. Whatever the reason, your engine’s ignition won’t work. And now your car is a very expensive paperweight sitting in a parking spot or on your driveway.
If you turn the key and get nothing from the engine, then you may have a dead battery on your hands. You need a jumpstart.
What You Need Before You Start
You can save yourself a tow if you follow these steps! Before you call a friend or flag down a good Samaritan, you’ll need to make sure you have a few things on hand.
- Jumper cables – If you don’t have your own, you will have to hope a friend or passerby has a set. It’s always a good idea to keep a set of jumper cables in the trunk of your car, in case of emergency.
- Your vehicle’s owners manual – Check the manual for any special instructions on accessing your car’s battery terminals (some cars have a protective cover over the battery), as well as instructions on where to attach jumper cables to your car.
- Screwdriver or other tools (Optional) – You may need a special tool like a screwdriver to access your battery’s terminals, if there is a protective case over your battery. Check you manual beforehand to see what tools are necessary and keep them in your car.
Now that you have all the equipment you will need, it’s time to jumpstart your car
Step-by-Step Instructions on Jumpstarting your Car
- Find a willing helper. You will need another car to jumpstart your battery. Call a friend or flag down a good Samaritan.
- Park the cars close together. Park the cars facing front bumper to front bumper. Jumper cables only extend so far. They can come in longer lengths, but 12 feet is standard.
- Turn off both engines. Raise the hoods on both cars.
- Follow the instructions in your vehicle’s owners manual. Check your manual for any special instructions on accessing the battery terminals or attaching jumper cables.
- Attach jumper cables in order. Attach jumper cables in the order shown, either on the cables themselves or in the owners manual. And don’t turn on either vehicle until the instructions say to do so. You want to avoid stray sparks, which might cause an engine fire.
- The usual order: Always start with the working car’s battery and then work back to yours.
- Attach the red (or orange) clip to the positive (+) terminal of the working car’s battery.
- Attach the other red clip to the positive (+) terminal of your car battery.
- Attach the black clip to the negative terminal (-) of the working car’s battery.
- Finally, attach the other black clip to an unpainted metal surface of your car (not the battery), like the metal strut holding the hood up.
- Turn on the working car.
- Try to turn on your car. It may take a few minutes for the ignition to catch. Wait five minutes, with the other car still running, and try again.
- After your engine turns on, remove the clips. If your car is running at this point, you can remove the jumper cables. Remove the clips in reverse order of how you put them on, starting from your car.
- Detach the black clip from the unpainted metal surface of your car.
- Detach the black clip from the negative terminal (-) of the other car’s battery.
- Detach the red clip from the positive (+) terminal of your car battery.
- Detach the red clip from the positive (+) terminal of the other car’s battery.
- Keep your engine running for 30 minutes. Once your car engine is running, keep it running at least 30 minutes to recharge your battery.
Congratulations! You’ve just given your car a jumpstart.
However, if you have trouble the next time you start your car, take it to the mechanic. You may have a battery that no longer holds a charge.