How to Jump Start Your Car (Or Someone Else’s)


When you’re trying to get somewhere in your car and no matter how hard you turn the key in the ignition, the engine just won’t turn over, you might be able to fix the problem with a jump start. To be sure it’s actually an electrical problem, check that your car’s accessories don’t power on either. If they don’t, then the problem is almost certainly either the car’s battery or alternator. That means that, if your car has a standard petrol engine (as opposed to diesel), you might be able to get her started with a jump. Note that vehicles with electronic ignition systems or that run on alternative fuels can be damaged by giving OR receiving a jump in this way.

Now, whether your battery is actually completely spent and needs to be replaced may be hard to diagnose. But, it’s safe to say that if you may have left your headlights on overnight, the battery is likely just drained. And if you are good about maintaining your battery terminals, then it’s very possible that the battery is in fair condition and just needed a little boost. However, if you aren’t a car expert, it’s probably wise to head to your nearest garage and get things checked out, just in case you do need to replace the battery or alternator.

How to jump start your car

Obviously, in order to give your vehicle a jump, you’re going to need to find some kind soul with a car and a set of jumper cables if you don’t have any ready to go in the boot of your own car. Important: the vehicle providing the jump needs to have a battery with the same voltage as the receiving car or higher. Luckily, it doesn’t matter whether your grounds are negative or positive (they don’t have to be the same), and it doesn’t even matter whether one of you has an alternator and the other has a generator.

Once you’ve found someone who is willing to give you a jump and you have a set of cables ready, both cars need to be placed in park or neutral and turned off with the parking brakes engaged.

Here is how to correctly attach jumper cables to the two cars. Let’s assume here that yours is the one that needs a jump:

  1. Attach a red clip to the “+” or POSITIVE terminal of your car’s battery. If it isn’t labeled, it’s the bigger of the two terminals.
  2. Attach the other red clip to the “+” of the other car’s battery.
  3. Attach a black clip to the “-” of the other car’s battery.
  5. Attach it to one of the metal struts that holds the bonnet It needs to be an unpainted metal surface and it shouldn’t be too close to the battery.
  6. Have the other driver start their car and let the engine run for about five minutes.
  7. Finally, try to start your car again.
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