Jump starting a vehicle is one of those things that can easily be taken for granted. Learning about batteries, how to protect yourself, and your vehicle when jump starting is what this post is all about.

When jumping a vehicles battery, the reason is either that something electrical was left on and ran the battery down or the battery has electrically failed and won’t power up your vehicle. Car batteries have a combination of lead plates, water, and sulfuric acid. A chemical reaction produced when the battery is electrically charged will provide the necessary power for your vehicle’s electrical system.

When a battery runs down or becomes discharged, the sudden charge from jump starting or quick charging produces a hydrogen gas within the battery. All batteries have vents to prevent the battery gasses from building up or causing the case to swell. These vents will allow hydrogen gases to release at and around the battery. Whenever making a connection at the battery, if the jumping source is powered, sparks can occur which could ignite the gasses present creating an explosion. When following this post, make sure not to hook up the cables backwards or ground out a power source other wise severe electrical damage will occurr!!

For more battery knowledge, refer to the battery maintenance post “How to section”

To locate a pair of jumper cables, use one of the parts links and search ‘jumper cables’.
A good 20 foot pair will cost around $40, but will last a long time.

Jumper cables

Make sure they’re long enough to reach the width of 2 vehicles. This will allow for enough cable to comfortably use.

Checking cable length

Red is for the positive battery terminal and Black is for the Negative terminal

Seperate cable ends

Make sure to separate the cable ends before making your first connection

Open hoods

Pull the cars close to each other and open the hoods
Make sure the dead car has the key off and the good car is running with the head lights on

Connect positive cable

Make the first connection the positive terminal on the running vehicle (look for a red cable and/or a + mark on the battery)

Connect negative cable

Make the second connection the negative terminal on the running vehicle (look for a black cable and/or a – mark on the battery)

Note:Make sure the jumper cables are routed away from any moving parts such as belts or fan blades

Route cable

Make the third connection on the dead car positive terminal,(look for the red cable and/or + mark on the battery)

Dead car positive cable

The fourth connection is the most important, ground it away from the battery

Dead car ground cable

New cars typically have under hood positive and negative connection points
Remember the opening text about not creating sparks to prevent a possible explosion. Don’t go against the rules!!
It’s a safety thing!!!

Once the cables are connected, attempt to start the dead car. If the attempt does not start or cranks slow, wait for a minute or two and try again.

When started, remove the jumper cables in the reverse order. Remove starting with the jumped car ground 1st, positive 2nd, the good battery ground 3rd, and the positive 4th.

A better way to jump and a nice tool to have is a jump box.

Jumper box

Use one of the parts links and search ‘battery jump box’ they range from $45-$60

Most jump boxes fully charged have an indicator light built in to show the state of charge.

Charge indicator lights

A nice feature is a cut off switch. Hooking up before turning on will eliminate any unexpected sparking.

Cut off switch

Just like using jumper cables, the box is the reserve battery source and only needs to be connected to the dead car.

Universal cable ends

Some jump boxes have ends that can easily connect to a side post battery as well as a top post battery.

Positive from jump box

Make the first connection the positive terminal

Make the second connection the ground

Ground from jumper box

Position the jump box where it won’t interfere with anything under the hood

Secure jump box

Flip the power switch

Flip power switch

Start the car

Now that’s much easier. For knowledge on maintaining and cleaning your battery

refer to the battery maintenance post “How to section”