Sometimes car batteries die. Understanding how to safely jumpstart your car is an important skill to have. If your car dies far away from an auto repair shop, jumpstarting your battery means you don’t have to pay for a tow truck.

Just remember that after jumpstarting your car safely, you should bring it directly to a mechanic like Ethan’s Honest Automotive. They will need to determine why your battery died and recommend repairs to fix the problem. 

How to Jumpstart Your Car Safely

Jumpstarting a car is unfortunately no longer a skill that everyone knows. If you keep emergency equipment in your car, it gets easier. But you still need to follow the steps outlined below. 

Equipment you will need to safely jumpstart your car are jumper cables and a power source. The power source can be another vehicle or a portable battery designed for jumpstarting cars. 

  1. If the power source is another vehicle, make sure both cars are in park or neutral. The ignitions should be turned off. Use the parking brake in both vehicles. Then open the hoods. 
  2. If you are using a portable battery, follow step one for your own vehicle. Then ensure your portable battery is ready to use per its instruction manual. 
  3. Next, you will need to connect the jumper cables. Jumper cables have alligator clips at both ends. They are color-coded black and red. You have to attach them in the correct order to remain safe. The following pattern should be used to connect the slips.
    – Red to the dead battery. The red clip is the positive side of the jumper cable. It should be connected to the positive (+) terminal on your (dead) car battery.
    – Red to the donor battery. Then take the second red clip and attach it to the positive terminal on the donor battery. This will be either the + terminal on the portable battery or the other car.
    – Black to the donor battery. Connect the black alligator clip to the negative (-) terminal on the donor battery.
    – Black to metal. Finally, connect the last black clip to a bare metal part of your vehicle. Make sure the metal is not immediately next to or touching the battery. Often people use a metal strut that opens the hood. 
  4. Once the clips are all properly connected, it is time to start the donor battery. Either turn the ignition in the other vehicle or turn on the portable battery. 
  5. Idle the donor battery for a little while. These steps often take a few minutes. A ten to twenty minute wait is common. 
  6. A good way to determine if it’s time to try to start your car is to see if the interior lights turn on. If they are one, the battery is likely charged enough to turn on your vehicle. 
  7. Turn on your car. 
  8. With your vehicle running, unclip the jumper cables. Makes sure to unclip them in the reverse order than you put them on. 
  9. Bring your car into Ethan’s Honest Auto to determine the cause of your dead battery.