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How to Jumpstart a Car

Posted by Michael Wenger on

Did you leave your lights on? Are you stranded because of a dead battery? Are you helping a friend that is stranded?

Many times a car doesn't start, simply due to a dead battery. Some obvious signs of a dead battery are: 

  • Clicking noise when you try to start the car
  • Sluggish turnover
  • No turnover
  • No dash, radio, or cab lights
  • Light switch is on when entering your car

Hopefully, you've prepared for car trouble and have a pair of jumper cables in your trunk! If not, call up a handy friend and follow these steps:

  • Find the battery terminals on both cars.
    • Most vehicles will have the battery in the front corner of the engine bay.
    • Some newer vehicles route the battery remotely within the vehicle and run the cables to the engine bay.
  • Park the running vehicle so that the battery terminals on both cars are as close together as possible.
  • Turn off the running vehicle.
  • First, connect one positive (red) end of the cable to the positive (+) terminal of the bad battery.


  • Connect the other red cable clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery.
  • Hook the negative (black) cable clamp to the negative (-) battery terminal to the good battery.
  • Connect the remaining black negative cable to an electric ground on the stalled car. A good ground is a clean and dry solid-metal piece in the engine bay. The engine block is typically the best place.
  • Start the car with the good battery. Check for any sparks, this is a sign of a bad connection.
  • Let the car run for three minutes, this is typically long enough to start a car with a dead battery.
  • Start the stalled car. 
    • If it fails to start, turn the key off and wait three more minutes to try again.
  • Avoid turning off your car for twenty minutes, as your battery can only recharge while your engine is running.

If your car fails to start, a dead battery might not be your problem. Your battery could be too old to hold a charge. Even worse, you could have an electrical problem or a bad starter. These things happen often, so make sure you’re proactive and have an emergency roadside assistance plan like AAA.


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