Car batteries can lose their charge for many reasons — for example, if you accidentally leave your headlights on overnight. Even allowing a vehicle to sit unused for an extended period can be enough to drain its battery of power.
And when a battery does die, jumper cables can provide a fast solution.
But jump-starting a car can be dangerous if done improperly. Use this six-step guide to do the job safely.
Step 1: Consult your owner’s manual. It may include step-by-step instructions for jump-starting your specific vehicle. If these instructions are unavailable, continue to the next step.
Step 2: Park the rescue car next to the disabled vehicle. Get close enough so that the cables will reach, but do not allow the two vehicles to touch. Put both cars in park or neutral, turn off the ignitions and pop the hoods.
Step 3: Connect the cables. Start by attaching the red (+) clamps to the positive terminals of each battery — dead battery first, then live battery. Next, attach the black (-) clamp to the live battery’s negative terminal. Finally, attach the last black (-) clamp to a chassis ground (an unpainted metal surface) on the disabled vehicle.
Caution: Do not allow clamps to touch, and do not reverse the polarity.
Step 4: Start the engine of the rescue vehicle. Allow it to run for a few minutes before attempting to start the engine of the disabled car.
Step 5: Start the disabled vehicle. If the engine cranks, allow it to run for 15 to 20 minutes to ensure the battery recharges before shutting down again. If the engine doesn’t start, double-check your connections and try again.
Step 6: Remove the cables in the reverse order of connection in the third step above (black cables first, then red). Again, do not allow the clamps to touch.
You can also call a professional. If the dead battery won’t recharge, call roadside assistance or consult a trusted mechanic.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have a dead battery or other car issues.