How To Jump Start A Car

How to jump start a car

How to Jump Start a Car


In this article I am going to discuss how to jump start a car battery using a jump starter. Let me describe to you a situation that happened to me a few years ago to put this all in context.

It was a February morning and I was running a little late for work. I headed out to the car, and the ground was icy and I went to unlock my car using the button and… nothing. My battery was completely flat.

Thinking it to be flat I got a jump from a neighbour and went to work, it was a long drive so I assumed everything would be ok. No. I work in the middle of nowhere and that evening – no battery again, and I was completely alone. I had to call a recovery truck, it was all very embarrasing not to mention cold. It was then that I decided to buy myself a jump starter or ‘mobile starter’.

The unit I have is wonderfully multifunctional – it has a car adaptor port on it, a light and a tyre inflator as well as a normal plug socket. The feature that I bought it for though is it’s jump starting power!

The first thing to say about jump starting a car is this: SAFETY FIRST – this is really crucial and not worth getting wrong. Even if you think you are sure please check, before you set to work that everything is safe and that you are in a safe environment.

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Key features here are (not exclusively): is the car in neutral, you don’t want to start it and for it to race forward hitting anything in front of it. Also is the road or area you are in safe for you to be opening the engine and starting the car, if you’re on a busy road with traffic then make sure you are completely clear of any fast moving cars as is any equipment you will need (specifically the jump starter).

I would always advise reading the manual that came with your equipment as well, some jump starters work in different ways so it’s worth being aware of the nuances. As ever when you are working with expensive potentially dangerous (if nothing else because of the electricity at work here) you should take care.

So onto the details of how to jump start a car once you have made sure all is safe in the environment. Some of these steps will seem obvious to those with experience but it’s worth going over them all just for clarity – we also all have to start somewhere.

Firstly open the bonnet, there is usually a pop switch under the dashboard, often near the steering wheel or glove compartment.

When the bonnet is open locate the battery. This will be a large device with a sqaure top. Traditionally this has always been on the right hand side (as you look at it) at the front but this is not always the case and with some very modern cars the battery can be in the boot.

On top of the battery will be two terminals sticking out of the top. Often at least one is covered with a red ‘cap’ which can usually be easily removed. Sometimes the whole of the battery is hidden by such a device. It is normally easy to access the battery so it shouldn’t be too hard.

Schema on how to jump start a car

You should then be able to see two small jutting out terminals, about the size of the end of a thumb. One of these is positive and one negative. It is important to get this bit right. Usually they will be labeled, usually the positve one has a red cover. It is normally easily to follow the visual clues about this.

Next plug the lead into the charging unit. It normally has a small connector on it, a little similar to a kettle lead and is usally impossible to plug in wrong. This jumper cable will split into two ‘grips’. You attach the red cable to the positive and the black to the negative terminals but using it as a monkey grip style of connection.

It should sit cleanly on the attachment point. If it does not (the terminal is too greasy or similar then make sure it is as clean as possible – the connection needs to be as good as can be. Do NOT touch the positive terminal with your hands!

Once each is connected (if you get it wrong then sparks are likely to fly) most jump start packs will either emit a noise so you know they are connected or have a switch to press to say you are ready.

At this point you can use the key to start the car and it should work. After which you can remove the starter but remember the safety rules.

Bear in mind that if this keeps happening you probably need a new battery or similar repair. Also always remember you charge your jump starter as you don’t want to end up with a battery pack with not charge in it!

Having your own jump starter is highly recommended. I have used mine a few times now and I have been extremely pleased I haven’t been in the same situation as a few years back again.


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