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How to Jump a Car (Without Shocking Yourself)

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Need to jump start your vehicle? Here’s how.

If you’re reading this, you probably need to jump-start your car right now. So, let’s get to the chase. Here’s how to jump a car safely, without shocking yourself or the innocent bystander who’s lending you their jumper cables. 😉

How to Jump a Car

CAUTION: If your vehicle has an electronic ignition system or requires some type of alternative fuel/energy, using jumper cables can cause serious damage to your vehicle.

Woman holding jumper cables by her car

1. Find Jumper Cables, Somewhere

I could tell you to get a pair of jumper cables and keep them in your car, but it’s most likely too late for you right now. If you have jumper cables in your car, consider this a gold star for you! If not, after you get your car started again, roll on over to your local automotive store and buy a pair for next time.

2. Put Both Cars in Park

Hopefully, you’ve found another car to help you get jumped off. Position the cars appropriately and safely to ensure that your jumper cables reach from one battery to the other without too much tension. Once you’ve found the perfect position for each vehicle, parked, and turned off both cars, pull out your jumper cables.

3. Open the Hood

Open the hood on both vehicles. Take a moment to match up the red and black ends of the cable with their counterparts in your mind before doing anything else. If you’re not sure which end goes where follow steps 4-6 to learn how to attach the cables without shocking yourself or the car.

4. Attach Red Ends to Positive Terminals

With both cars turned off and stationary, it’s time to start attaching the jumper cables. Start by attaching one red end of the cable to a positive terminal on the battery. After you attach the first red end, connect the second red-ended cable to the other vehicle battery’s positive terminal.

5. Attach Black Ends to Negative Terminals

Now that you’ve connected the red ends to their positive terminal, it’s time to connect the black ended cables to their negative terminals. You must connect the first black ended cable to the vehicle battery that’s not in the car you are trying to revive. Once you’ve attached the first black ended cable to the other vehicle, connect the second black ended cable to your car battery.

Jumper cables attached to car battery

6. Attach Last Black Clip Elsewhere

Last, but not least, a final clip should remain unused. You should clip this loose cable somewhere on the car that is not painted metal, like a secured bolt or bracket. This will be your ground to avoid injuring you or your vehicle.

7. Start the Vehicle

Start the vehicle that’s in working order and allow it to run for a few minutes. This allows your car a little extra time to charge up. After 5 minutes have passed, start your vehicle. Hopefully, after you start the vehicle, you’ll be up and on your way to the nearest automotive parts store to retrieve a new battery!

How to Avoid a Dead Battery

If you’ve experienced a dead battery, you’ve almost always dealt with it at inconvenient times. The good news is you have a few preventative measures that can help you avoid sitting on the road waiting for a jump.

Decrease Battery Drain

When you’re not in the vehicle, be sure to unplug all chargers, gaming systems, computers, etc., This prevents these electronics from draining the battery when you’re at home or work.

Check Your Battery Health

Testing car battery with multimeter

If you keep your battery for 5 years, your battery most likely will be unreliable. Replace your battery or have its health checked at an auto parts store when you hit these milestones to avoid any further inconveniences.

Always keep your car battery clean and free from grime to help your battery stay healthy.

Carry a Portable Car Battery Charger

Portable car chargers are small, easy to stow machines that allow you to charge or jump your car all by yourself. You can find a portable car battery charger at your local automotive store or online. A portable charger gives you peace of mind while you drive and doesn’t force you to rely on those around you.

Maintenance is Key

Maintaining your vehicle is key. New cars often have less maintenance required of them, but used cars can be just as efficient if they are maintained throughout their lives. To keep your battery and car running, it’s important to take care of your car as it ages, while also preparing yourself for inconveniences like a dead car battery.

When was the last time your battery died? What did you do? Let us know in the comments below!

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Erin Maxson

Erin loves nothing more than a good road trip. To her, getting behind the wheel is one of the biggest adventures you can take because it can lead to anywhere. Alongside her Toyota Tundra, you'll find her co-pilot pup, Rory, and a 1976 Airstream Argosy in tow. Her motto: Life is a scenic road, take your time and enjoy the ride.

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