How to Jump Your Car Like a Pro

There’s nothing more frustrating than bundling up in the winter to scrape your car of ice, only to discover your car won’t start. While there are many reasons a car can fail to turn on, winter can sometimes sap the life out of a car’s battery.  Let’s walk through some key identifiers to pinpoint how to know if the battery is the problem and a quick fix to get your car back on the road again by jump-starting your car.

how to jump a car

Signs your battery is on its last leg

To save yourself the time and trouble of jump-starting a car, it’s helpful to see if you can identify or remember any of these signs. The following list are signals that your battery may need to be recharged or replaced.

  • Your car battery is old – How can you tell if your car battery is old? Well, it depends on where you live and the conditions your battery is in. Some new batteries can last up to six years, but generally, most car batteries will need to be replaced between two and six years.
  • Check your lights – Have you noticed the lights in your car flickering or dimming? This could be a sign that your battery is wearing out. You may also notice your check engine light comes on as a signal that it’s time for a battery replacement.
  • The slow start – If your battery is losing charge, your engine may crank more slowly, which can result in your car taking a little more time to start. The slow start is another way your car is telling you it’s time for a new battery.

Why your battery is drained

If you have noticed any of the signs we shared, there’s a good chance the issue is you need to replace your battery. There are a few reasons why it may no longer be in working order, but when winter comes, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that the weather took its toll.

Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, are taxing for a car’s battery. When freezing temperatures come around, it slows the chemical reactions taking place inside, which affects your battery’s performance. Not to mention, your oil is thicker, and your engine is colder, making the initial startup of your car more taxing, too.

How to safely jump your car

If you suspect your battery is the issue, your best bet is to jump your car. This is the time to pop open your trunk and take out your jumper cables from your emergency car kit. Before we dive into how to jump a vehicle, it’s pertinent that you have someone else as well as their vehicle to assist in order to get your car moving again.

Read through these directions to learn how to jump a car so you can approach the situation with confidence.

Note: Please make sure their car does not run on alternate fuels! There’s a chance it could damage their vehicle if so.

Step 1:

Park your cars close together and turn both cars completely off.

Step 2:

Identify the positive and negative terminals on your battery. You will want to clip the red cable to the positive terminal of your car’s battery, which is the part that needs to be charged.

Step 3:

Connect the second red clip to the positive terminal on the other vehicle.

Step 4:

Locate the black clip and attach it to the negative terminal on the other vehicle.

Step 5:

At this point, you should have one black clip left to use.  Attach this clip to a metal surface with no paint on your car, around six inches or more away from the battery.

Once all of this has been set up, it’s time to turn on the car with the working battery. Let it run for 5-10 minutes before attempting to start your vehicle. If your car still does not turn on, ensure that your cables are fully connected in the proper locations. If they are and the engine still won’t start, you will need to move towards the next viable option of getting your car checked.

Get your car checked

Once your car has finally started and you’re back on the road, it’s a good idea to drive around for a while to charge up the battery before heading to get it tested. If you shut your car off right away, there’s a good chance you’ll have to start the process all over again.

We also recommend getting your car battery tested afterward. Many places, such as AutoZone, will check your battery at no cost to you.

The best way to prevent a battery mishap is to winterize your car before something goes wrong and to know how to jump a vehicle in case something doesn’t go according to plan. It’s a good practice to do winterize your car and review how to jump it when colder months are headed your way.

By preparing your car ahead of time, you minimize the chances of an issue (like a drained battery) preventing you from reaching your destination. Good luck out there and stay warm!