How to Jump Start a Car

By Angela Monroe - September 11, 2020


There are some car skills you kind of just ‘have to know’. Jump starting a car is one of them. Getting stuck with a flat battery is pretty scary and really annoying. Although modern batteries are reliable, dramas can happen.

Here’s how to jump-start a car:

What you’ll need:

Jumper cables

Jumper cables and another car (booster car).

Jump Start a Car:

Step 1: Park the cars

Position both cars so that they are facing each other, nose to nose. You’ll want batteries on each vehicle close enough to each other so that the cables can reach.

Step 2: Get the cars ready

With the jumper cables at the ready, put both cars in neutral or ‘park’. Put the hand brakes on and open both bonnets.

Step 3: Connect the positive terminals

Attach one end of the RED jumper cable to the flat battery’s POSITIVE terminal. Connect the other end of the RED jumper cable to the booster car battery’s POSITIVE terminal.

Step 4: Connect the Negative (Black) Cable

Connect one end of the BLACK cable to the booster car battery’s NEGATIVE terminal. Connect the other end of the BLACK cable to an unpainted metal surface like a bracket, bolt, etc on the car with the flat battery. It should not be near the battery, ie; attach it on the other side of the engine bay.


The connections should be as follows:

RED CABLE: POSITIVE terminal > POSITIVE terminal.

BLACK CABLE: Booster car NEGATIVE terminal > Bare metal on the body of the car with a flat battery.

Step 6: Start the booster car’s engine

Make sure the cables are not obstructing any moving parts in the engine. Wait a few minutes for the voltage to stabilise and then start the booster car’s engine. Allow it to idle for a few more minutes.

Step 7: Start the flat battery car’s engine

Make sure the car with the flat battery is running ok. The idle should be smooth.

Step 8: Disconnect the cables

If the engine with the flat battery is running smoothly, disconnect the cables in the reverse order you connected them. Make sure the metal clips on the ends of the cables don’t touch any other metal or moving parts of the engine.

Step 9: Job done

Close the bonnets, you’re done. Ideally, you’ll drive the car with the (previously) flat battery for at least 30 minutes to allow it to charge.

Note: If the car with the flat battery is unable to start, it likely indicates that the battery is beyond repair. Avoid this by caring for your battery to get the most life out of it.


FAQS pic

Can jump starting a car damage the electronics?

Yes, but only if you don’t follow the correct procedure. Your car’s fuses protect delicate electrical circuits from power surges. Usually, the worst thing that can happen is a blown fuse.

How long should you drive/leave the engine on after jump starting a car?

At least 30 mins. Your car’s alternator’s job is to recharge the battery and this needs the engine on to do that. It can take a while if the battery is low on charge.

Can a car battery be ‘too dead’ to jump start?

Yes, this is possible. This may be due to a damaged battery rather than a ‘drained’ one. It means the battery can’t reach the required 12 volts to start the car. Check for mineral deposits around the terminals.

Can you jump start an electric vehicle?

In theory, this is possible with some models, however, jump starting an EV could damage them. They have multiple warnings to help drivers avoid a flat battery.

Can you use an EV as a booster car?

No, this can damage the EV. Make sure to read the owner’s manual to be 100% sure.

Angela Monroe
Angela Monroe is the Community Manager at The Positive Group, specialising in giving people the information that they need when they need it, and putting you on the path to a fair financial future. She has 8 years of experience in helping Australians find the right finance solutions, and regularly contributes articles to empower Australians with the knowledge they need to become financially healthy.


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