video: how to jump-start a car

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Step-by-step instructions [+]

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.