You get in and try to start the engine but all you get is a clicking/ticking noise. The engine will not start! You may have a dead battery.

Here’s 10 steps on how to jump-start a car.

This is a situation that many car owners may encounter once or twice in their lives. It doesn’t have to be a big problem if you have the tools and the knowledge on how to safely resolve the situation.

Jump start car battery

Safety precautions before attempting to jump-start a car

  • Do not jump-start a car if the battery is frozen, it could explode or rupture.
  • Remove any metal you are wearing such as a watch, rings or other jewelry that could potentially make an electrical contact.
  • Avoid any open flames or sparks.
  • Vehicles should not touch each other.
  • Cables should not touch each other.
  • Do not connect the jumper cable on the dead battery to the negative terminal post. This may cause a spark ad or battery explosion.
  • Be aware of the radiator fan in the engine bay which can start at any time the engine is on.
  • Turn off any unnecessary accessories in the vehicle with the dead battery. The radio and lights etc will draw extra power.

10 Steps to Jump-Start a Car

  1. Find a Good Samaritan who has a car or truck with a working battery.

2. Position the vehicles side by side or facing each other. Never let the vehicles touch. This is to avoid shorting out a battery.

3. Have both cars in PARK with engines turned off. Pop open the hoods and locate the batteries.

4. Connect the positive end of the cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery. This is the red part of the jumper cable. As for the battery, look for the positive + sign.

5. Attach the other positive clip of the cable to the positive terminal of the other vehicle.

6. Clamp the negative end (black) of the jumper cable to the negative terminal of the good battery. Just look for the minus sign.

7. This one is very important. Connect the other negative end of the jumper cable to an exposed, unpainted metal part of the vehicle away from fuel sources (Not the negative terminal post). This will prevent sparking or the possibility of the battery exploding.

8. Double-check the clamps of the jumper cables are connected to the right battery terminals.

Start the engine of the vehicle with the good battery. Let it idle for at least 10 minutes. This will give it enough time to charge the dead battery.

9. Start the engine of the vehicle with the dead battery. Leave it running.

10. Finally, remove the jumper cables in reverse order. Detach the black cable from the previously dead battery, the one that you attached to an exposed metal part. Remove the black jumper cable from the good battery, then the red one (again from the good battery). Remove the red cable from the formerly dead battery.

Jumper cables

Leave the car running

Now that your car is running, let the vehicle run for at least 30 minutes to give it enough time to recharge.

As you can see, the important tool that we used here are the jumper cables, so it’s important that you always carry some in your car or truck. Here are a few tips when buying jumper cables

Tips for purchasing jumper cables

The thicker the cables, the better/faster to jump start a car. Look for the lowest gauge number that you can find. The lower the gauge, the more power can be easily passed through the cables. This means shorter charging time.

Find one that has rubber handles. This will lessen the chances of your getting a shock. It is also more comfortable to handle.

Look for clamps with teeth that can firmly hold on to the battery terminals. You don’t want any clamp sliding off while you’re trying to jump-start a vehicle.

Choose the longest jumper cables that you can find. This will give you enough reach should it not be possible to get the two vehicles too close.

Portable power packs

To jump start a car without having to rely on someone else, consider a portable booster pack.

These are priced from $30 to a little over $100. Stock a charged one in your trunk. You never know when you might be stranded with a dead car battery and no other vehicle in sight to help.

Note that it is not recommended to use a power pack with more than 12 volts, as it could cause damage to the electrical system.

How to jump start a truck that has two batteries

If a heavy duty truck has two batteries, it is recommended that you used the one with the thickest cables. One battery may even say on it ‘not to use for jump starting’.

Car and truck battery 101

vehicle battery 101