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how to jump-start a car

Every once in a while, a good car battery dies. When it happens to you, all is not lost. Like a young Dr. Frankenstein, you have the power to bring it back to life!

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Step-by-step jump-starting instructions

All you'll need to jump-start a dead battery are jumper cables and a nice person with a working car (let's call him Fred). For added safety, we also suggest having a flashlight, goggles, and gloves.

Before you start, read your owner's manual

Some cars have extra steps you'll need to take before beginning, some have the battery in a place you may not expect, and some shouldn't be jump-started at all. The owner's manual can advise you on how to begin because, unlike us, it knows your exact make and model.

Step 1: Get the cars within 2 feet of each other

Obviously, Fred will have to move his car since yours isn't going anywhere. Make sure both ignitions are off. (If your car's a manual, place it in "neutral" and pull the parking brake.)

Step 2: Pop both hoods and find each car's battery

The batteries should be marked with a plus (positive) and a minus (negative).

Step 3: Connect the cables
  • Attach one of the red clamps of the jumper cable to the positive terminal of Fred's battery (that's the healthy one in case you forgot).
  • Attach the other red clamp to the positive terminal of your dead battery.
  • Attach the black clamp to the negative terminal of Fred's battery.
  • Attach the other black clamp to an unpainted metal surface on your car … not too close to the carburetor or battery.
Step 4: Start Fred's car

Rev the engine a little, then let it idle for a minute or 2. If the dead battery is old or hasn't been used in a while, let Fred's car run for 3 to 5 minutes before turning on yours. This allows the dead battery to charge.

Step 5: Start your car (yippee!)

Let both cars idle for a few minutes. (You can take this time to get to know your savior.)

Step 6: Disconnect the cables (in the reverse order they were connected)
  • Black clamp from your car
  • Black clamp from Fred's car
  • Red clamp from your car
  • Red clamp from Fred's car
Step 7: Thank Fred and get on your merry way

Drive your car around for 15 to 30 minutes to allow your battery to charge.

Esurance emergency road service

If a DIY jump-start isn't your thing, then it's probably smart to invest in emergency road service (ERS). If you're an Esurance customer with emergency road service coverage, call the number on the back of your ERS card. We'll dispatch expert help to jump-start your car and help cover the costs of roadside assistance and towing services.

If you have questions about our emergency road service coverage or would like to add it to your policy, call us anytime at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).