Updated at: 10-08-2023 - By: Lucas

No, not getting jumped like that! A quick how-to guide on jumping your car’s battery.

proper way jump car-2

Red is good, and black is bad. Red is good, and black is… a metal surface that hasn’t been painted?

Having your car’s battery die is very frustrating, especially if you’re not in your own driveway. If you leave your car lights on by accident, the above instructions, along with some jumper cables, will get you moving again. Here’s a best-case scenario for how to jump-start a car with cables:

You’re in your driveway, waiting for your daughter to get out of school so you can take her to soccer practise.


When you try to start the car, all you hear is a reedy, never-ending chugging sound. Your battery has run out. Your neighbour loves to jump cars, and he can watch all of this from where he sits on his lawnmower. He comes over in his car with his cables and is ready to fix your battery.

First, he turns off his car (even though it won’t start, make sure the key is out and the car is in park). He puts on the parking brake just in case.

Then he starts hooking up the wires. On his battery, he puts the red clip on the positive terminal (if it’s not marked “pos” or “+,” you can assume it’s the larger of the two terminals) and the black clip on the negative terminal.

After he hooks up the cables to his living battery, he starts working on yours. He connects the red clip again to the positive end of your dead battery. Then he clamps the other black clip to a metal part of your car that isn’t painted. Your neighbour tells you, “On the car with the dead battery, the red clip goes on the positive, and the black clip goes on the metal that hasn’t been painted.” You nod when the same thing is said again because it all makes sense to you now.

Your neighbour tells you to go start your car now that you’re hooked up.

It starts moving!

You thank the person next door. “If that didn’t work,” he says, “I could have just run my engine for five minutes and it would have worked.”

You say, “Good to know,” as you get in your car.

Now that’s a happy ending for a made-up story. We want to make sure you’re ready if you ever find yourself in this situation. So, here is a step-by-step guide on how to jump start your car.

Jump Start Your Car In 7 Easy Steps

proper way jump car

If you find that the battery in your car is dead, you don’t need to worry. If you have a few important things in your trunk, you’ll be back on the road in no time.

You’ll need:

jumper cables (also known as booster cables)

portable jump starter (or friendly stranger with a working automobile & battery)

1. Identify the positive terminal on your car’s battery.

It should have the plus sign (+), and it will be marked in red for sure. If you’re going to use jumper cables to get a boost from another driver’s car, you’ll also need to find the positive terminal on that car’s battery. Make sure the cars aren’t running!

2. Connect one of the red positive (+) jumper cable clamps to the dead battery’s red positive (+) post.

If you are using a portable jump starter, you will connect the red clamp to the positive terminal of your car’s dead battery.

3. Connect the other red positive (+) jumper cable clamp to the good battery’s red positive (+) post.

You can skip this step if you are using a portable jump starter with clamps already attached.

Be very careful not to let the positive and negative clamps touch each other, or sparks will fly. And it can cause a portable jump starter to short out.

4. Take the negative black (-) clamp that is on that same end of the jumper cables and connect it to the black negative (-) post on the good battery.

It really is as easy as it sounds. Yes, the cars (or the jump starter) should still be turned off.

5. Find an unpainted metal surface under the hood of the vehicle with the dead battery.

Here is where you will connect the other black clamp with the negative sign (-). DO NOT connect it to the other car’s battery, or it could explode!

After this step, everything should be hooked up and you should be ready to try to jump-start the car.

6. If connected to another vehicle, then turn on the working vehicle. If connected to a portable jump starter, then flip it on.

You should let the car that works run for about five minutes so that it can charge the battery of the car that doesn’t work. Then, try starting the car even though the battery is dead.

If you can’t get it to turn over, turn off the vehicle that is working and move the black clamp on the metal surface. It might not be making a good connection, so move it to a different part of the metal surface and try again.

If that doesn’t work, try revving the engine of the other car to see if it can send enough current to the alternator to start the other car’s engine.

7. Disconnect the jumper cables.

You should take the clamps off in the order that you put them on. So, start with the one that was put there most recently and work backwards.

Remember to drive the car around a bit before you turn off the engine again so that it will start back up for you.

The battery gets charged when the engine is running, so drive for at least 10 to 15 minutes before turning off the engine. This will give the battery a chance to charge back up before you need it to start your car again. If your car won’t start the next time you want to go somewhere, you may need to get that battery checked out or replaced.

If you’ve never jumped a car before, make sure to read through the owner’s manual. This manual should have any extra steps or important information you need to know about jumping your car. Make sure that the clips on the jumper cables never touch, especially when one end is attached to a battery. You can buy a pair of emergency jumper cables for twenty dollars if you want to be extra prepared (or less).

Stay safe on the road, and have fun!