How to jump start a car

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If your vehicle’s battery dies, it can be handy to know how to jump-start a car so you’re prepared to get it going again. Here’s a step-by-step guide to jump-starting a car battery.

Prepare for jump starting

  • Don’t attempt to use jumper cables if either vehicle has an electronic ignition system or is an alternatively fueled vehicle as this may damage the car.
  • Pull the working vehicle close to, but not touching, the stalled one.
  • Turn off ignitions in both cars.
  • Put both vehicles in park or neutral.
  • Engage emergency parking brakes.
  • Pop hoods.
  • Put on safety glasses.
  • Remove any terminal covers.
  • Wipe or wire-brush dirty terminals.
  • Don’t jump a leaky or frozen battery.
  • Don’t let cable clamps touch.
  • Don’t reverse the polarity (connecting positive + to negative -) or damage may occur.

Attaching the jumper cables

  • Grab the clean, corrosion-free jumper cables you keep in your vehicle or ask a fellow motorist for a pair.
  • Begin at the dead battery.
    • Attach a red clamp to the positive + terminal.
  • Next, move to the working battery.
    • Attach the other red clamp to the positive + terminal.
  • Attach the black clamp to the negative – terminal.
  • Attach the last black clamp to an unpainted metal surface on the stalled car, preferably the engine block, cylinder head or other chassis ground.
  • Start the working vehicle and let the engine run a few minutes.
  • Try to start the dead vehicle.

Removing the jumper cables

While the engine is running:

  • Disconnect the black clamp first, then disconnect the red.
  • Don’t let the clamps touch each other while any cables are still connected to the cars.
  • DO NOT shut the engine off. Let it run for about 15 minutes to recharge the battery.

Car battery still dead

  • Recheck the clamp connections.
  • Run the working vehicle again.
  • Try to start it again.

If that still doesn’t work, that’s where State Farm® Emergency Road Service coverage comes in handy. And once you’re in a safe spot, follow these battery replacement tips, if needed. And keep an eye on your car maintenance schedule to avoid a repeat experience.


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