Jump Me!
Few things in life are as aggravating as turning the key to start your car only to find that you have a dead battery.

If you decide to jump start the car yourself, you will find it easy to do.  But you do need to do it right.  There are some very basic doís and doníts, and now on to the information you need:

Jump Starting a car 99% of the time is harmless to both cars and all parties. However it is that 1% that gets nasty.

All lead Acid batteries give off hydrogen gas. As in ka-boom! I have seen a person get a face full of battery acid (Sulfuric Acid).

I have jumped started a lot of cars, trucks and boats. Iíve done car to car, used a self-contained jump-start battery and a lighter-to-lighter cable with never a problem because I have followed the basic guidelines.  I have also seen folks get injured by not following these simple rules.


First things first.
If you have cheap cables throw them in the trash. The cheap ones use Aluminum wire. They heat up very fast and easily. When they heat up, they leave a very nasty burn scar on your hands. Use only high quality copper cables. The easy way to tell good cables from cheap? Good cables are very flexible. Cheap ones are stiff.

How to do the hook up:

Make sure both cars are switched off. Take the + cable from the + terminal on the bad carís battery, to the + cable on the good carís battery. Make sure both connections are good.
Take the Ė cable and hook to ground on the dead car. Then hook the Ė cable to ground on the good car. Make sure connections are good.
Then start the good car. Do not try to start the bad car right away. Let the good car put a charge on the dead carís battery. It is O.K. to increase your idle. I would not gun or rev the engine.
After two minutes itís time to give the dead car a go.
Here is how.
With two people, One standing by the good car. Where they can reach the - cable. Other person starts dead car.
The moment dead car starts, immediately disconnect the Ė cable from the good car. Now the cars are no longer connected. It is now O.K. to increase the idle on the dead car. Be careful on disconnecting that cable. The engine is running. Do not let your hands or the cable contact anything!
Then, on the dead car, disconnect the Ė cable. You can then disconnect the + cables in any order.
Why this method? You never want to chance a spark by the battery. Doing this you avoid the chance of an exploding battery from spark.

Also NEVER STAND near the battery of the dead car when the last connection to the good car is made or when you start the good car. Sometimes the bad batteries can have an internal short. If so it will get very hot and/or explode on getting power.

On using a self contained jump-start unit. Hook the + to battery and - to ground or earth but not to the dead carís battery.

If the jump unit has an on off switch turn it on after the connections are made. Also give it some time before starting the dead car. When the dead car starts disconnect or turn off the jump-start unit.

If using a jump cable that goes from cigarette lighter plug-to-plug, turn both cars off. Hook to bad car. Hook to good car. Start good car. Wait five minutes. Turn off good car. Disconnect both cars. Try starting dead car. Also on lighter-to-lighter connections, on some cars, the lighter connection is only ďliveĒ when the ignition key is turned on. Both cars have to be switched on for the charge to work. Also be aware. You can blow the lighter fuse on one or both cars. This is why you unplug the cars before starting the dead car.

Also make sure to read your owners manual for any recommendations or advice the manufacturer of your car may have.


In doubt about connecting the two cars together? Then disconnect the dead battery from the car and get it charged, or use the good car to put a charge on it. Remember, to hook to the dead battery first, then + to the good car, then Ė to ground. Avoid spark by the batteries!

Last but not least.  Just call the Auto Club.


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Last modified: November 08, 2002