Beginner’s Guide to Using Jumper Cables

You’ve just noticed that your car is unable to start. The light on your dashboard indicates that there’s something wrong with your battery. Maybe you left your lights on or the extreme cold has killed your battery. Luckily, restarting your car isn’t as difficult as some might believe, it doesn’t require a floor jack or any heavy tools. Instead, all you need is a set of jumper cables and a car with a battery that matches yours. It is very important that you have a car with a similar battery voltage as yours so you don’t risk causing damage to either cars’ electrical systems.

Once you have found a car to assist, get the cars as close together as possible WITHOUT touching. The cars should be facing front to front so there’s less distance for the jumper cables to reach both car batteries.

Both cars should be turned off at the beginning of set up. Open up the hood and find the battery, which is typically a square box with labeling for voltage and safety warnings. It’s important that you follow each step correctly in the following sequence.

First, connect one of the red jumper cable clamps to the positive or (+) knob on the top of the DEAD car’s battery. Next, you want to connect the other red clamp to the positive knob of the good battery. So, from now on, remember that red means positive, black is negative.

Connect one black clamp to the negative knob of the GOOD car battery. The next step is to connect a black clamp to the dead battery on the large metallic section of the engine block. NEVER contact the black clamp to the negative knob of the DEAD car battery, this will cause sparking and could exploded the battery gases.

The next step is for a driver to get behind each car. The good battery car should start first, running for a few minutes while applying pressure to the gas pedal for some idle speed. After a few minutes, start the dead car, which should turn on. Let it run for a few more minutes to let the dead battery charge. Then, with both cars running, remove the cables in reverse order. The means, the black cable on the large metallic section, the black cable off the good batter, the red cable off the good battery, and finally, the red cable off the once dead battery.

Drive your car or leave it on for at least thirty minutes before turning it off again. This guarantees that your battery is charged. Driving it around actually charges the battery faster, despite popular belief. Note that if this becomes a constant habit of needing to recharge your car, you should consider buying a new battery that will hold a charge. Also, make precautions to make sure to turn lights off when walking away from your car for a period of time. Be sure to always put the cables in the proper order and there you have it! Easy for anyone to do.

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