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How to jump start a car

Updated on September 18, 2010

Is your battery really drained?

The best way to tell if you need a jump is by turning the key in the ignition. If you get no response, chances are you've got a drained battery. That's actually a good thing, because jumping a car is a lot easier and cheaper than repairing a broken car.

You need jumper cables

Always carry jumper cables in your car. If you don't have jumper cables, got out and buy some the next time you're out and keep them in your trunk. There's no good reason for not having jumper cables, unless you've got AAA and good cell phone reception everywhere.

What do I connect to what?

The first step is to find a working car. Park it so the batteries are relatively close to each other. Now turn both cars off. Connect the red jumper cable to the positive terminal of the drained battery first. Now connect the red cable to the positive terminal of the good battery. Now connect the black cable to the negative terminal of the good battery. Now connect the other end of the black cable to a metal surface on the car of the drained battery. Make sure the surface is not painted and somewhere under the hood of the car.Under no circumstances are you to connect the negative (black) cable to the negative terminal of the drained battery. There are plenty of places on the engine block that are suitable to connect the black cable.

Start up the car with the good battery (kind of redundant, since you can't start the car with the bad battery). Let it run for about 5 minutes. Now start the car with the (formerly) drained battery. Remove the cables in the reverse order they were connected. Keep the car running for about half an hour to make sure the battery is fully recharged.

Jump starting a car without jumper cables

If you have a manual transmission car, you can try jump starting it by pushing it or rolling it down a hill. Just have the ignition turned on and the car in 1st gear. Have the clutch fully pushed down. When the car reaches about 6 or 7 mph release the clutch as quickly as possible. If the car doesn't start try pressing down the clutch and releasing it again. If you get the engine turned on, keep it on for a while to charge the battery.


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