How to Jump Start a Car

Learn the steps involved in jump starting your car and how to maximise your safety right here with Savvy.

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, updated on August 14th, 2023       

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Car Loans Banner - Frustrated woman looking under the bonnet of her car before jump starting the battery

There's nothing more frustrating than being stuck with a dead car battery, especially when you're on the road. Fortunately, jump starting a car is a straightforward process which can get you back on track quickly.

Whether you're a new driver or simply want a refresher on this essential skill, Savvy’s step-by-step guide walks you through the process of jump starting a car safely and efficiently. Learn about the safety precautions you should take before attempting to restart your car with us today.

What should I do before I attempt to jump start my car?

Before you try to jump start your car, it’s important to keep the following in mind to help maximise your chances of a successful jump start, as well as ensure your safety and that of the cars involved:

  • Park your car safely and switch it off: first and foremost, consider your safety and the safety of others. Park your car in a safe location away from traffic and switch off the ignition of both cars, with each having the handbrake on in park.
  • Be safe and careful: when working with your car’s battery, it’s crucial to be careful, as the acid stored within it can be very dangerous.
  • Always keep an eye on the vehicles: never leave either vehicle unattended and running during the jump start process.
  • Try to jump start in an open area: because of the fumes, it’s important to look for an open area wherever possible to jump start the vehicle.
  • Gather equipment: ensure you have all the necessary equipment. You'll need a set of jumper leads and a working vehicle with a fully charged battery. Keep in mind that some vehicles have specific jump starting instructions in the owner's manual, so refer to it if available.

If you’re looking at taking out a loan to buy a car, it’s crucial to check its repairs history so you’re aware of any potential issues with its battery before you purchase it.

How do I jump start my car?

Identify positive and negative terminals

Once you have both vehicles ready and the required equipment for the jump start, identify each car’s positive and negative battery terminals. These are usually marked with red (positive) and black (negative) plastic covers. Familiarise yourself with the battery terminals, ensuring you can easily identify them when it's time to make the connections.

Attach jumper leads

Now it's time to attach the jumper leads. Start by connecting one end of the red (positive) cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery. After this, connect the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the working car's battery.

Next, connect one end of the black (negative) cable to the negative terminal of the working car's battery. Finally, attach the other end of the black cable to an unpainted metal surface of the dead car's engine block. This step is essential for safety as it prevents sparks near the battery.

Start the working car

Start the engine of the working car and let it run for a few minutes. This will allow the charged battery to transfer some power to the dead battery, helping to build up the charge.

Start the dead car

With the working car's engine running, try to start the dead car. It may take a few attempts, so don't be discouraged if it doesn't start immediately. If the dead car doesn't start after a few tries, wait a few more minutes and try again.

Remove jumper cables

Once the dead car starts, leave both engines running for a few minutes to ensure the dead battery gets enough charge. After you’ve finished charging your battery, carefully remove the jumper cables in the reverse order in which they were connected:

  1. Remove the black cable from the unpainted metal surface of the dead car's engine block.
  2. Remove the black cable from the negative terminal of the working car's battery.
  3. Remove the red cable from the positive terminal of the working car's battery.
  4. Finally, remove the red cable from the positive terminal of the previously dead battery.

Let the engine run

Allow the engine of the formerly dead car to run for a few more minutes to ensure the battery is adequately charged. This will help prevent any potential stalling once you start driving. On top of this, it’s worth driving for at least 20 to 30 minutes once your car is up and running to charge the battery further and minimise the chances of the battery going dead when you next start your car.

Continue to service your car battery

By continuing to take your car in for servicing, you can keep an eye on any potential issues with the battery. Car batteries generally last between three and five years, so if yours is older than that, it may be worth getting it replaced before your car breaks down.

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