How to Properly Jump Start Your Car Battery

Jump starting your car battery, or “boosting,” is a practical art form that everyone should be familiar with. Even the best maintenance in the world can’t stop a battery from malfunctioning every once in a while. The steps below will ensure that you jump your battery in a way that will not take away from its lifespan or performance.

1. If you are using another vehicle’s power to jump start your battery, make sure they both start in the “off” position. Set the parking brakes on both. Take the same precaution if you have a small generator. Turn it off before hooking it up.

2. Before you try to attach the jumper cables to the correct battery terminals, make sure they are clean. Take a slightly damp rag and clean off any dirt from your battery terminals and from your jumper cables. Make sure there is no excess water on either tool before attempting a jump. Ideally, you will use a wire brush for this cleaning.

3. Locate the positive and negative terminal on your battery. You will know the correct terminal by the colors and the + or – symbols that you will see. Red corresponds with “+”, and black corresponds with “-“. You will see the same colors on the protective plastic around your jumper cable wires. Never attach the opposite wire to a terminal.

4. Making sure that the other car or the generator is still in the off position (as well as your car), attach one red wire at a time to the battery. Start with the dead battery. Attach the red wire to the + terminal. Attach the other side of the red wire to the + terminal of the live battery.

5. Go back to the working battery. Attach the black clamp to the – battery terminal. On the car with the dead battery, attach the other side of the black clamp to a clean bolt that is attached to the engine block. Do not attach this part of the black cable to the dead battery itself. This is a very important step to ensure the safety of the jump.

6. Make sure that the connections between your wire and the battery terminal are solid. Wiggle the clamps slightly to see if they come off. If they come off with slight pressure, reattach from a different angle so that you get a stronger connection.

7. Rev up the live battery. Let the battery run for at least 10 seconds.

8. Start up the dead battery. The vehicle should work. If it does not, turn the vehicle ignition back into the off position. Let the battery on the live vehicle charge for a longer period of time before attempting to start up the dead vehicle again.

9. If you still get no response from the dead vehicle, push down on the gas pedal of the working vehicle slightly to rev it.

10. Once you get the dead battery working, disconnect the cables starting with the black cable first. Never let the clamps on the cables touch each other. A short drive with the formerly dead battery should be all it needs to maintain a charge!

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