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How to Jump Start A Car Using Jumper Cables

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How To Connect the Jumper Cables to your Battery
Jump starting your car, easy connections.

On the dead battery, attach the positive (red) cable to the battery, but attach the negative (black) cable to a section of bare metal in the engine compartment. Even a nut or bolt end will do.

photo by Matt Wright, 2010
Don't be nervous about your battery connections, but also know that it's very important that you do not mix up the cables or you can do serious damage! With both cars parked next to each other, turn both keys to the OFF position. Not only will this protect your car's electrical system from any surges, it's always safer under the hood with the engine off.

Here are the connection steps:

  1. Be sure both ignition switches are in the OFF position.
  2. Locate the "+" (positive) and "-" (negative) sides of each battery. They should be clearly marked on the battery itself. On newer cars the positive (+) side often has a red cover over the battery post and wires.
  3. Attache the red cable to the "+" side of the good battery
  4. Attach the other end of the red cable to the "+" side of the dead battery
  5. Attach the black cable to the "-" side of the good battery
  6. Attach the other end of the black cable to a section of unpainted metal on the dead car. This can be as small as the head of a bolt located nearby.
Important TIPS:
*Attach the jumper cable to the most secure attachment point you can find on the car's permanent battery cables. If they are corroded, it may help to wiggle the jumper cable end around a bit while it's attached to the car's cables or battery.

*You might be tempted to attach it to the "-" side of the dead battery, but this isn't recommended. In the old days, batteries leaked small amounts of acid, which could turn into flammable gas around the battery. This gas could explode if the cable caused a spark just above the battery.

*I have seen some people clamp the negative cable onto the rubber cable covering of the positive side while they walk across to the other car. This is a NO NO. If one of those sharp teeth were to pierce the rubber cover and reach the wires inside, you could do serious electrical damage to one or both vehicles!

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