Last updated: August 2023
If you’re dealing with a dead battery, don’t panic. A quick jumpstart can bring your battery back to life, and it’s surprisingly easy. Really! All you need is a set of jumper cables and a car with a working battery.
How to Jumpstart Your Car
- Park the working vehicle next to the car that needs a jump. Don’t let the vehicles touch, or it could cause a short.
- Put both cars in park and turn off their ignitions.
- In both cars, turn off lights, the radio, air conditioning, things plugged into power outlets, and anything else that can drain power from the battery.
- Before going any further, take a look at both batteries. If either battery is cracked or leaking, do not attach jumper cables. The battery could explode.
- Locate the dead battery’s positive and negative terminals. Luckily batteries are usually clearly labeled with + and – signs, so they should be easy to find!
- Connect the jumper cables. Attach one red clamp to the dead battery’s positive terminal, and the other red clamp to the working battery’s positive post. Connect the black clamp to the working battery’s negative post, and the other black clamp to any solid, unpainted metal surface inside the dead vehicle’s engine compartment, like a nut on the engine block. Don’t worry if you see a spark after connecting the negative cable. It’s totally normal.
- Make sure the cables are secure and not touching any moving engine parts.
- Start the working car. Let it idle for a few minutes to feed power into the dead vehicle’s battery.
- Check that you have the cables set up correctly by turning on the dome light in the dead vehicle. If it turns on, they’re good!
- After a few minutes, start the dead vehicle and let them idle together. If the engine is cranking but won’t turn over completely, give it a few more minutes and rev the engine of the working vehicle.
- Once the dead car is running smoothly, it’s time to remove the jumper cables. Be careful not to let the clamps touch each other, or you could be in for a serious shock. Disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order you connected them: black clamps first, then red.
- You’re good to go! Allow the dead vehicle to run for at least 30 minutes. This gives the battery time to recharge. Make sure you drive the vehicle somewhere safe before shutting it off in case you have to jump your battery again.
Remember to always keep a set of jumper cables in your car emergency kit to help you and other drivers!
When doing any kind of work on your battery, it’s important to be safe. The troublemakers are sulfuric acid and explosive acids in the battery that could be produced when the battery is charging and discharging.
Two important things to have handy are gloves and protective eyewear when working on batteries. If you don’t have those available on the road, use sunglasses for your eyes and avoid touching your face and eyes when charging and working on car batteries. You want to avoid sulfuric acid mishaps and corrosion on your battery.
Here are a few other tips about battery safety:
- Avoid wearing jewelry when working with metal tools, the metals could create a contact with the battery through tools and create a short
- Always remember to remove the battery’s ground clamp before loosening the positive (+)
- Always connect the ground last
Before you find yourself stranded with a dead battery and no one to help but roadside assistance, equip your vehicle with a car battery charger. They range from $20 and up, and along with jumper cables, will keep you prepared in case of a dead battery on a road trip.
Jumpstarting a battery is easy, but what about other roadside emergencies? Stay safe by making sure your car insurance policy includes roadside assistance. That way, you’re covered if you ever get a flat tire, lock your keys in your car, or your battery dies and you don’t have jumper cables handy.
Adding an emergency roadside assistance plan to your car insurance policy is simple with Direct Auto Insurance. To learn more or to get a free quote, call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732) or come into a Direct location near you to get started.