You may have been driving for years, but do you know how to jump start a car? According to a study, most people don’t.

But why does it matter? Your battery can go flat when you don’t expect it and often at the most inopportune time. Like changing a flat tire, jump starting a car is a skill every driver must know.

It’s not only for your sake, either. When you see someone in trouble because of a faulty car battery, it’s your chance to be a good Samaritan.

Ready to learn a valuable and potentially life-saving skill? Let’s get started!

How to Jump Start a Car

Learning how to start a car with a flat-dead battery isn’t difficult. But you’ll need two basic things.

The first thing is a good pair of jumper cables. Second, you’ll need a kind individual willing to share some of their battery’s juice.

When you have those two things sorted out, follow the steps below.

Safety First

Before attempting to jump start a car, it’s important to remember that sparks could set off the flammable gases present around the engine. Don’t let any metal objects touch the car batteries. 

Also, don’t let the metal ends of the jumper cables contact each other until you connect them to the correct terminals. And never attempt starting a car this way if one of the batteries is damaged or leaking.

Line up Both Cars

Park both cars either side by side or face-to-face. You need the batteries to be within easy reach of each other. Engage the handbrakes and turn off the ignition.

Locate the Battery Terminals

Pop the hood of both cars and locate the batteries. A car battery has two terminals: positive and negative.

Sometimes the terminals are hidden or located remotely for convenient access. Refer to the car’s manual if necessary.

You can usually identify the positive terminal by its red cap.

Attach the Positive Leads

Clamp one end of the positive or red jumper cable to the DEAD battery’s positive terminal. Next, attach the other end of the red jumper cable to the BOOSTER battery’s positive terminal. Strictly follow this order.

Attach the Negative Leads

This time, connect one end of the negative jumper cable to the BOOSTER battery’s negative terminal first. Then clamp the other end to the DEAD battery’s negative terminal.

Start the Booster Car

Wait for about three minutes, then start the car with the working battery. Let the engine run for about one minute.

Start Your Car

Make sure you have your car keys with you. It’s common for drivers to forget where they put their car keys due to the stress of the situation. Look into replacement car keys if this happens to you.

When you’re ready, try starting your car and hope that the engine turns over. If it doesn’t, you may need to call for professional help.

Disconnect Jumper Leads

Once your car’s engine is running at a smooth idle, you can disconnect the jumper cables. But remember to do it in the exact reverse order you attached them.

Drive your car for twenty to thirty minutes to allow the alternator to recharge the flat battery.

A Skill Every Driver Must Learn

Knowing how to jump start a car is essential for all drivers. You may not need it all the time, but when you do, you’ll be thankful you had it in your toolkit.

Of course, you can avoid this situation if you’re vigilant about car maintenance. Check out our Car Repair section for more tips today!