There's nothing more frustrating than getting into your car, turning the key, and—nothing. The good news is that a quick jump-start is just a jumper cable away.
Warning Never attempt to jump-start a battery that is frozen, cracked, or damaged in any way. It could explode when connected to another battery.
Step 1: Position cars Position the working car as close to the 'dead' car as possible. Ideally, that means hood to hood with a few inches in between.
Step 2: Turn off both engines Turn off both engines.
Tip Never light a match or smoke near a car battery. The battery contains hydrogen, a highly explosive gas.
Step 3: Open hoods of both cars Open the hoods of both cars.
Step 4: Identify terminals on car batteries Identify the positive and negatives terminals on both car batteries. They will be labeled with a plus sign for positive and minus sign for negative.
Step 5: Connect red clamp to dead battery Connect one of the red clamps on the jumper cables to the positive terminal on the dead battery.
Step 6: Connect red clamp to working battery Connect the other red clamp to the positive terminal on the working car’s battery.
Step 7: Connect black clamp to working battery Connect the black clamp on the jumper cables to the negative terminal on the working car’s battery.
Step 8: Clip black clamp to dead car's engine Clip the remaining black clamp to a clean metal part of the dead car’s engine to ground the circuit.
Step 9: Attempt to start dead car Attempt to start the dead car. If it doesn't start, disconnect the jumper cables in the reverse order: first the black clamps (starting with the once-dead car), then the red clamps (starting with the working car). Start the engine of the working car and allow it to run for about five minutes to boost its battery.
Step 10: Attempt to start again Turn off the working car and again attempt to jump the dead car by connecting the cables -- in order -- and starting the ignition.
Step 11: Disconnect jumper cables Once the car starts, disconnect all the clamps in the reverse order.
Step 12: Charge battery or go to repair shop If you’re confident that your dead battery was just drained by accident, keep your car running to charge it back up -- otherwise, go directly to a repair shop without shutting off the engine, or you risk having the battery die on you again.
Did You Know? Contrary to popular belief, heat -- not cold -- is the most common cause of car battery breakdowns.