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How to Jump a Car

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By Madeline Klein on February 4, 2021 in Life Hacks

We’re here with life hacks galore! Our goal is not only to make car insurance clear and transparent, but also to keep you informed about everything on the road.

Good news! O’Reilly Auto Parts ranks this as a 2/5 on their difficultly scale. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps, the process goes quickly.

1. Grab the cables – We admit this one seems like a given, but we’re covering all the bases here.

Pro tip #1: Keep a set of cables in your car 24/7 because you never know when they’ll come in handy. You can buy jumper cables at Walmart, Target, AutoZone, O’Reilly, Amazon, or most stores that sell car goods!

Pro tip #2: Not all jumper cables are the same. In your car’s service manual, you can read about which gauge to use for your vehicle…a Chevy Malibu and a semi truck’s needs will differ.

2. Use a jump starter or find someone willing to help you out – If you have a jump starter, you’re able to jump start your ride all by your lonesome. Unfortunately, these aren’t very common for everyday car users, so you’ll most likely need another vehicle.

If you have to wait a while for the jump, turn off your stereo and lights to prevent additional strain on your battery.

3. Prep your car, the other car, and the cables – Park the two vehicles’ close to one another (Note: The cables will connect the two vehicles, so be sure you’re close enough for them to reach). Turn both vehicles off, set emergency brakes, and remove keys from ignition.

4. Attach the cables – Woo, we’re finally to the big step! Be sure to follow this step very clearly. First, distinguish the negative and positive cables from each other. Different sets of cables have different colors for each, so there’s no tried-and-true rule for which is which.

Pro tip #3: Once you start connecting cables, don’t let them touch each other.

The order of connecting the cables is very important!

Attach one of the positive clamps to the dead battery’s positive terminal. Then, connect the other positive clamp to the working battery’s positive terminal. Next, put the negative clamp on the negative terminal on the working battery. The last negative clamp you will attach to a metal surface on the dead car, not the negative terminal.

Pro tip #4: In your car’s service manual, there will likely be instruction on where to place the negative clamp when jumping your car. This is helpful if you have trouble deciding a good location for it.

5. Start the car up – Go ahead and turn on the working vehicle. Allow it a couple of minutes to idle before attempting to start up the other.

6. Remove cables – When removing the cables, take them off in reverse order. Start with negative cable on the vehicle with the dead battery, the other negative, and then the two positive cables.

7. Let the car run for a while – Just to be safe, don’t hit the road right away after getting a jump. Let your car run for a couple of minutes to be sure it won’t stall again.

8. Hit the road – Now you and your ride are back to the open road. It’s a good idea to get your battery checked after this to ensure it isn’t time for a replacement battery.

Ta-da! Those are all the steps you need to know to successfully jump your car.

Remember, sometimes there are additional problems with the vehicle, and jumping it won’t solve your problem. If this is the case, getting a tow might be a better option. Don’t forget that Say includes roadside assistance in every policy for situations just like that!

Madeline Klein is Say's Digital Content Producer. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism, emphasis in Strategic Communication. Her experience is in writing and digital media. Madeline loves using her creativity to write and design new and exciting pieces of work for Say!