How to Jump Start a Car

Jump starting a car is intimidating for some people. This is, we're guessing, because of the risk of electric shock and catastrophic engine damage.

We're just kidding. Kind of. Jump-starting a car does carry some inherent risk, but that risk is very easy to mitigate by following some gobsmackingly simple advice. Let's get into it.

Locate the Batteries

We say batteries because you're going to need two cars to make this work -- the one whose battery is dead and one whose battery is not dead. Some cars have their batteries on the passenger side, and some have them on the driver's side. This is important to know, because it will determine how you arrange the vehicles when it comes time to jump start the car. You need them in such a way the jumper cables can reach both batteries.

Attach Jumper Cables

You'll notice, on your battery, there is a positive side and a negative side. Often this is designated with a (+) and a (-), or with a red (positive) and a black (negative). The same is true of your jumper cables. To make it easy on yourself, attach the red (positive) jumper cable to the red battery terminal on the non-running car, and do the same with the negative.

A word of warning, here: That dead battery most likely has a little bit of juice left in it, so you'll want to make sure the other ends of the jumper cables aren't touching each other. If they come into contact, they'll probably spark. If this happens, it's not the end of the world. You can just separate the cables again. But it will probably scare the tar out of you.

Now, with a red end in one hand and a black end in the other, attach the red and black ends of the jumper cables to the battery of the running car, just as you did on the non-running one.

Start the Car(s)

Start the running car and just have a quick look to make sure you got everything connected right. If there are any sparks flying around, it means you got your wires crossed and you need to remove them as quickly as possible. But you got it right, because you're smart and capable and a little dead battery is not going to get the best of you.

In most case, you'll be able to start the dead car right away, but if it still struggles to turn over, just give it two, three, maybe even five minutes to accept the charge from the running vehicle. Eventually it will get enough juice to turn over the engine and get you on your way.

If it doesn't, it probably means the battery is completely shot, and unable to receive a charge. Or it could mean your problem was never the battery in the first place.

In any case, bring it to the service department at Honda of Clear Lake, where our speedy technicians will diagnose the issue, and make the repairs in no time.