DIY Jumpstart Your Car Easily In Under 20 Mins

Learn How To Jumpstart Your Car

Many people during the past year have driven their vehicles less because of the pandemic. As the vehicle stays parked for weeks, the battery drains quickly, especially on relatively new vehicles that are loaded with various electronic systems that consume energy. A lot of us have experienced a dead battery and will probably, at some point in our lives, find ourselves stranded with a weak or dead car battery again. A dead battery leaves us with no choice but the most common and easy way out, i.e. to jumpstart the vehicle. Learning how to jumpstart your car can not only save you but others as well from being stranded on the side of the road with a car that won't start.

When it comes to jumpstarting a vehicle, using jumper cables is a very popular and simple method. However, you should also have a backup plan in case you're out in the woods with no cables and no other vehicle in sight. Also, what if your car has an automatic transmission or you have no jumper cables? There are several factors that can rule out the possibilities of jump-starting your vehicle with the equipment you have. Therefore, knowing a few methods can allow you to take the matter into your own hands so you can jumpstart your vehicle and get your vehicle moving.

Tools Required:

Jumper Cables

Jump Starters And Power Banks

Jumpstart Your Car Using Jumper Cables (Under 20 minutes)

Jumper cables, also known as jump leads or booster cables, are insulated wires that have alligator clips on each end which are used for connecting the car's battery to an energy source like another vehicle's battery or a spare battery. Using jumper cables is easy, but carrying out the task without getting injured is very important. Follow the stepwise procedure below to jump-start your vehicle safely.

  • Open the vehicle's hood and locate the battery.

  • Identify the positive and negative terminals of the battery. Usually, the positive terminal is marked with a plus sign (+) and has a red cable attached to it, and the negative terminal (-) has a black cable attached to it.

  • Bring the cars close enough to each other so you can connect them through cables but never let the two vehicles touch. It can lead to a short.

  • Turn off the engine, radio, lights, a/c, all accessories, and electrical components on both cars.

  • Connect one red clamp of the jumper cable to the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery and the other end of the cable to the positive terminal on the other vehicle's battery or the good battery.

  • Now, connect one black clamp of the jumper cable to the negative (-) terminal of the good battery and carefully connect the other end of the cable to a good ground on the vehicle that is unable to start. A ground point can be the engine block, cylinder head, intake manifold (if aluminum or cast iron), strut tower bolts, or an engine bolt. Do not attach the negative cable to the negative terminal of the weak battery as it can create a spark and often cause the surrounding hydrogen particles to ignite and cause an explosion or fire.

  • Now start the car with a good battery and leave the engine running for approximately 5 minutes.

  • Crank the car with the bad battery and it should start. If it doesn’t ensure the connections are good and clamps are properly placed and then try again. Often, changing the ground to a better ground somewhere else on the vehicle can start the car. You can also keep the engine running on the vehicle with a good battery for 10 minutes or more to ensure the other battery is properly charged to start your car.

  • Once the vehicle has started, disconnect the cables carefully in proper order. First, remove the negative cable (black) from the car you jump-started and the negative cable from the car with the good battery. Remove the positive cable starting with the good battery and then from the weak battery.

  • Keep the engine of the car you just jumped running, so it doesn't stall, and get your car's battery checked and replaced.

Push Start Your Vehicle (Under 5 minutes)

Push starting, also known as pop starting or bump starting, is a method of starting your engine by spinning it to life by force. All you'll need is a small empty space or street (better if it’s inclined) and a friend or a good samaritan who can push the vehicle. NOTE: This method works only on vehicles with a manual transmission.

  • Direct someone or your friend to the rear of the car and have them ready to push the vehicle.

  • Hop into the driver's seat, turn the ignition on, press the clutch, and shift to the second gear. First gear is not recommended as it might cause the vehicle to jerk erratically and not start.

  • Ask your friend behind the vehicle to push the car and watch the speedometer as it moves forward.

  • At approximately 8 or 10 kph, let go of the clutch suddenly. The engine might start or sputter and jerk as it engages.

  • If the engine starts, you are all done, but if it doesn't, repeat the process and, if possible, at a slightly higher speed. While releasing the clutch pedal, you can try depressing and releasing the clutch pedal again and again.

  • If your vehicle doesn’t start after repeatedly trying this method, then your battery is not at fault and something else might be the issue.

Jumpstart Your Car Using Jump Starters (Under 20 Minutes)

Jumpstarters, also known as jump boxes or power banks, are essentially small portable batteries with attached jumper cables. They are dense little storage bins filled with electrical energy and some are also equipped with AC outlets, USB ports to charge your phone, and onboard safety lights. Their portability makes them the most viable option for those stranded in the middle of nowhere. To jumpstart your vehicle using one of these, follow the steps below.

  • Open the hood of your vehicle, locate the battery, and identify the terminals.

  • Most new jump starters come with integrated cables, but if not, connect the positive cable to the positive terminal on the jump starter and its other end to the positive terminal of your car's battery.

  • Connect the negative jump box cable to the negative terminal on the jump box and its other end to a good ground on the vehicle.

  • Place the jump starter on the floor, if the cables are long enough, or on a flat and stable surface under the hood.

  • Turn on the jump starter and after a minute, try to start the car. If the car doesn't start, let it sit for a few minutes and try again.

  • Once the car starts, turn off the jump starter and carefully remove the negative jump box cable (black) and then the positive cable (red). 

  • It’s recommended to recharge your jump starters after every time you jump start your car.

Your car needs to be driven regularly to allow the alternator to keep the battery charged. If you keep your vehicle parked for longer periods, consider using a battery tester which allows you to measure the health, condition, and voltage output. (learn how to test and maintain your battery here). However, irrespective of how much you take care of it, the battery charge will drain out sooner or later. Knowing the proper procedure of how to jumpstart your vehicle comes in really handy in situations like these. Not only does it keep your vehicle moving, but also keeps you safe from possible mishaps like battery explosions due to improper connections. With modern systems like portable jump starters, you can carry them in the trunk or glove box of your car in case you would need them anytime. However, it’s recommended to keep your car's battery in good condition in the first place to avoid unnecessary hassle. Sometimes, a defective alternator can provide insufficient voltage output and might not charge the battery, or a bad diode that can create a parasitic drain on a car's battery. Therefore, it is a good idea to diagnose your car's alternator as well, if your battery is draining rapidly or repeatedly.

John Framigllia
Technical Writer
Our technical writer is known for simplifying automotive parts and services. Intuitive with various vehicles and manufacturers, he knows how to simplify complicated problems.