How to jump-start a car

Janice Anderssen
Post a comment 0
Getting familiar with jumper cables
Jumper cables are insulated lengths of heavy-gauge electrical cable with spring-loaded alligator clips on each of the four "ends". The red cable is the "POSITIVE" lead, the black cable the "NEGATIVE" lead. Don't mix them up!

If your jumper cables are one colour (now THERE'S a silly fashion statement) the clips will be stamped either a + (POSITIVE) or - (NEGATIVE).

The positive clamp at each end of the jumper cables should only be attached to the positive terminals of the batteries, the negative only to the negative post.

Jumper cables are used to draw power from one battery (in another car) and feed it to the uncharged battery (your car).

Using your jumper cables
With the assistance car running, attach one "POSITIVE" clamp to the positive terminal (+) on the assisting car and the other end of the "POSITIVE" cable to the positive (+) terminal in your car.

The "NEGATIVE" clamp on the same end should then be attached to the negative terminal (-) of the assisting car . Be very careful at this point as the remaining negative clamp should never come in contact with the positive clamps. The last negative clamp should be attached to a piece of metal on the engine block - not too close to the battery to avoid creating sparks.

Note: Always be sure that clips get a good connection on the terminals. Reposition a clip if the first starting attempt is unsuccessful.

Start up the assisting car. Power will flow into your battery. Allow a few minutes for the slight recharging process and then start your car. If the battery has regained enough power or the power from the second battery is sufficient, the engine should turn over and the alternator should begin charging your car's battery. If this doesn't happen on the first attempt, the battery may need more time to build up a charge.

Leaving your car to idle, remove the jumper leads in the reverse order to that with which they were applied, starting with the negative clamp on the engine block.

If the 'dead' battery was not caused by leaving your lights on and draining the power, chances are that you need to replace the battery with a new one.

Janice Anderssen is Women24's Decor and DIY expert. Ask her a question here or visit for more tips.

Can you add to these jump start tips? Share your vehicle-savvy in the box below.