You have no clue how to jump start a car.
Every man should know how to jump start a dead car battery. You never know when you’ll need this knowledge to aid a stranded damsel in distress or help yourself. While jumping a dead battery is super simple, you’d be surprised by the number of men who have no idea how to do it. Even if a man has learned how to jump start a car before, it can be easy to forget what cables go where. Positive on negative? Ground the positive cable on the car with the good battery? Red cable is negative?
To help you avoid looking like a putz when asked to jump start a car and to help prevent you from shocking the hell out of yourself when you do it, here’s the rundown on how to jump start a dead car battery.
How to Tell if Your Battery is Dead
Before you try jump starting a car, you need to determine that the battery is the reason the car isn’t starting up. If you turn the ignition and hear the engine cranking, a dead battery isn’t your problem and jump starting it won’t do a darn thing. However, if you turn the key and the car does absolutely nothing, then there’s a good chance you have a dead battery on your hands and jumping it may be your ticket to getting back on the road.
How to Jump Start a Car with Cables
Note: You should always carry jumper cables in your car with you. You never know when you’re going to need them.
1. Make sure both cars are turned off.
2. Connect one end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the positive terminal on the stalled battery.
3. Then connect the other red (positive) cable clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery.
4. Connect one end of the black (negative) jumper cable to the negative terminal of the good battery.
5. Then connect the other black (negative) cable to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the disabled car’s hood. Somewhere on the engine block is a good place. Unless you want to see flying sparks and a possible explosion, do not connect the negative cable to the negative terminal of the dead battery, .
6. Start the car that’s doing the jumping, and allow it to run for about 2 to 3 minutes before starting the dead car.
7. Remove cables in reverse order.
8. Keep the jumped car running for at least 30 minutes to give the battery sufficient time to recharge itself.
And you’re done. Give yourself a pat on the back for a manly job well done.
The hardest part of the job is simply remembering where to put each cable. Many a man has broken out in a sweat wondering if he is about to make a wrong move and toast himself to a crisp. Here’s the good news: It’s probably impossible to electrocute yourself from jump starting a car. The battery might give you a big shock, but the voltage is too low to penetrate your skin and put you down for the count.
But no one wants to be on the receiving end of a zap, no matter how mild. So come up with a mnemonic device to help you remember which color goes where. I personally think: red=blood=life=positive/black=death=negative.
How to Jump Start a Car Without Cables
If you have a standard transmission car, you can jump start that bad boy without using cables. Here’s how you do it:
1. Find a stretch of clear downhill road.
2. Fully depress the clutch and put the car in first gear.
3. Turn the ignition to on.
4. Take your foot off the brake and start rolling down the hill, leaving the clutch fully depressed.
5. Coast down the hill until you reach 5 or 7 miles per hour.
6. Release the clutch quickly. You should feel the engine turn and start. If it doesn’t start the first time, depress the clutch and release it again.
7. If you don’t have a hill, get some of your buddies to give you a push and follow the steps above.
Got a story to share about when knowing how to jump start a car came in handy? Were you able to help a little old lady? Did you have to do it in subzero weather in the complete dark? Drop a line in the comment box and share it with us.
Last updated: August 14, 2015