How to jump start a car

Know what to do if your vehicle's battery dies.

If your vehicle's battery dies, it can be handy to know how to jump-start a car so you're prepared to get it going again. Here's a step-by-step guide to jump-starting a car battery.

Prepare for jump starting

  • Don't attempt to use jumper cables if either vehicle has an electronic ignition system or is an alternatively fueled vehicle as this may damage the car.
  • Pull the working vehicle close to, but not touching, the stalled one.
  • Turn off ignitions in both cars.
  • Put both vehicles in park or neutral.
  • Engage emergency parking brakes.
  • Pop hoods.
  • Put on safety glasses.
  • Remove any terminal covers.
  • Wipe or wire-brush dirty terminals.
  • Don't jump a leaky or frozen battery.
  • Don't let cable clamps touch.
  • Don't reverse the polarity (connecting positive + to negative -) or damage may occur.

Attaching the jumper cables

  • Grab the clean, corrosion-free jumper cables you keep in your vehicle or ask a fellow motorist for a pair.
  • Begin at the dead battery.
    • Attach a red clamp to the positive + terminal.
  • Next, move to the working battery.
    • Attach the other red clamp to the positive + terminal.
  • Attach the black clamp to the negative - terminal.
  • Attach the last black clamp to an unpainted metal surface on the stalled car, preferably the engine block, cylinder head or other chassis ground.
  • Start the working vehicle and let the engine run a few minutes.
  • Try to start the dead vehicle.

Removing the jumper cables

While the engine is running:

  • Disconnect the black clamp first, then disconnect the red.
  • Don't let the clamps touch each other while any cables are still connected to the cars.
  • DO NOT shut the engine off. Let it run for about 15 minutes to recharge the battery.

Car battery still dead

  • Recheck the clamp connections.
  • Run the working vehicle again.
  • Try to start it again.

If that still doesn't work, that's where State Farm® Emergency Road Service coverage comes in handy. And once you're in a safe spot, follow these battery replacement tips, if needed. And keep an eye on your car maintenance schedule to avoid a repeat experience.

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The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
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