Tips in Jump-Starting a Dead Car Battery

Jump-starting your first car was a rite of passage for some. However, for those who have never had a dead battery, jump-starting your car for the first time can be a frightening experience. While this is an easy procedure, you should always exercise caution when working on your engine.

Whether you’re accidentally leaving your headlights on and your car’s battery runs out, or you’re troubleshooting an electrical system problem, such as a tricky situation.

What You’ll Need to Jump-Start Your Vehicle

First, you’ll need the proper set of jumper cables and an active battery to charge (perhaps from  another car or standalone battery). If possible, start the vehicle with your partner.

What to Keep an Eye Out For

The key to safely jump-starting your car is to connect the cables from the live battery to the booster car in the correct order. You should also make sure that the metal ends of your jumper cables do not come into contact with each other or any other metal parts of the car.

A Guide to Jump-Starting Your Car

  1. Drag the bridge vehicle next to the dead battery (or if you’re using a different battery for the jump, make sure the cable can reach both dead batteries). Open both hoods and make sure both vehicles are turned off.
  2. After that, go to the dead car battery and identify the positive terminal (usually a red (+) wire if the cover is marked with a “+” or does not show a + or-symbol. Should be connected). Take one of the red (plus) ends of the jumper cable and connect it to the plus terminal.

Bear in mind that when not using the negative terminal,  care must be taken to find an uncharged ground during setup. This means connecting the negative end of the jumper cable to the plastic (non-metal / non-conductive) part of the engine first. On the other hand, if you do this with your partner, you can have your partner hold the negative end of the dead jump while connecting everything else.

  1. Connect the other red (positive) ends of your cables to your live battery’s positive battery terminals.
  2. Then grab the black (negative) end of the jumper wire on the live side of the wire. Connect to the negative terminal of the live battery.
  3. Return to your dead battery terminal and come to a halt. Many people are tempted to connect the negative end of the jumper cables to the negative post of the dead battery at this point. Do not do this. Connecting it directly to the dead-negative terminal can generate sparks and cause problems in gaseous and potentially flammable environments such as vehicle engines.

Rather, look for a ground to connect to, which in this case is an unpainted, stationary metal surface under your car’s hood. Some newer cars have a ground spot separate from the battery that is specifically designed for jumping your car (check your owner’s manual to see you have one). This could be a bolt on the engine block or even the strut tower. Keep in mind that using ground anywhere near a fuel source, such as near your fuel pressure regulator, is not a good idea.

  1. Lastly, you need to double-check the cable before skipping the battery. Make sure that both the  live battery cable and the dead battery cable are away from the cooling fan and serpentine belt so that they do not get caught in the moving parts of the engine.
  2. Then start the engine with a good battery and let it run for at least 2 minutes. Then, after walking for a while, start the engine of the dead vehicle.

If you are working alone, I recommend leaving the positive jumper on the previously dead battery and removing the negative jumper from the live battery. That way, only  the plus-to-plus connection remains, which helps avoid potential sparks and horrifying moments. You can now safely disconnect both positive cables and reattach the cap to the battery post.


That said, the work is not yet complete. Once the engine is running, do not turn it off for at least 15 minutes. This should be enough to recharge the battery. However, if you face the same problem the next time you start the car, it’s a good sign of a bigger problem: a bad alternator or battery.

When it comes to diagnosing and repairing electrical engine problems, HEART Auto Care technicians are well-versed. Make an appointment with us right away!