There are many reasons for you ending up with a dead battery. Maybe you left a light on, haven’t driven it for a few weeks during the cold winter months, or maybe the battery has simply run its course and needs to be replaced. No matter the reason, odds are you will be taken by surprise and be looking for a quick fix so you can go about your day. The easiest way to get your car up and running again is by borrowing some power from another vehicle’s battery, and this is how you do it safely.

Preparation

The first thing you need to do is be absolutely sure that the battery is the reason why your car won’t start. This is fairly easy in most cases and you’ll be able to determine if your problem is indeed a dead battery once you turn your key in the ignition. If after turning it you hear the cranking noise your engine makes but it won’t start, then your battery is fine and there’s another problem that’s keeping your car from properly starting. If, on the other hand, you turn your key and nothing happens, there’s a big chance your battery is dead.

Once you know for sure that the battery is your problem, you need to do is find a neighbor, friend, spouse, generally anyone with a working vehicle that’s kind enough to let you use their battery to jumpstart yours. The good news is that once you know how it’s done, everything will be over in a matter of minutes.

If you don’t have jumper cables you can find a cheap pair at most gas stations or local stores. You can safely buy the cheapest you can find, as hopefully, you are not planning on using them too often. You should, however, be careful not to buy a pair with really short cables, as you may discover that you can’t properly connect the two batteries because of the cable size.

Making the Connections

Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to connect the two batteries. Start by opening both your hood and the hood of the working vehicle, so you can see exactly where the battery is located in each one. This will help you park the other car in such a way that the two batteries are as accessible and as close to each other as possible. Many cars have a piece of plastic covering the battery posts, so you will need to remove that from both. You should now be able to identify the positive and negative post from each battery.

Before attaching the cables, you should clean the posts with a rag or a piece of paper, as they are likely covered in all sorts of dirt and debris. You can now proceed to attach the cables and the first step should be connecting the two positive posts with the red cable. You have to be extra careful not to touch the negative battery post on any of the cars, as that may result in a short circuit and you may end up with two dead batteries.

Now that you have connected the positive posts of the two batteries, it’s time to attach the black cable. You start off the same, by attaching one end to the negative post of the working battery, but you shouldn’t attach the other end to the dead battery. Instead, you should find an unpainted metal piece underneath the engine, like a bolt or a part of the car’s frame, and attach it to that. This will make jumpstarting your car safer.

Starting Your Car

You are now all set up. The cars are in place and the wires are connected, so it’s time to actually jumpstart your car. The first thing you should do is start the working vehicle and let it run for a few minutes. This will allow your battery to use the other car’s alternator and get a bit of juice. After a while, you can try and start your car. If everything went according to plan, your car should start right away. If that doesn’t happen you should re-check the connections and wait a little more.

If it starts, then congratulations, you have successfully learned how to jump a car. But the process doesn’t end here and the next thing you should do is leave the engine running, step out of your car and remove the jumper cables, being extra careful not to let the clamps touch each other. A car uses its alternator to charge its battery when the engine is running, so you definitely shouldn’t turn the engine off.

After thanking the Good Samaritan for lending you their battery power, the best thing you can do is drive around, therefore, allowing your alternator to properly charge your battery. You probably had somewhere to go anyway, before you discovered that your battery is dead. A 10-15 minute ride will do the trick. If you return to your car a few hours later and the battery is dead again, then you know for sure that it has run its course and needs to be replaced with a new one.

A dead battery is an almost inevitable occurrence in the life of a driver. Fortunately, with some help and a bit of knowledge, jumpstarting your car back to life is easy to do and only takes a few minutes.