How To Jump Start a Car – Manual and Automatic

Jump-starting a car is possible using another vehicle or a portable starter by following safety precautions and the correct method of attaching jump leads. Both automatic and stop-start battery vehicles can be jump-started by adhering to manufacturer guidelines. The key precaution is to not use hybrid or electric cars for jump-starting and handling jump leads properly.

Drivers ending up with a dead battery is one of the most common breakdown issues, it can easily happen if you leave the lights on or due to a “parasitic draw”. Thankfully, there is a way to jump-start a car without having to contact a trained professional.

What to consider before jump starting a car

  • The materials required for jump starting a car are usually another car with a fully charged and working battery and a set of jump leads. If this is available to you, a portable jump starter can also be used.
  • Avoid using a hybrid or electric vehicle to jump start another car, as this can tend to cause damage to the electrical systems.
  • Don’t touch jump leads together when connected to a live battery, as best practice it’s best to just avoid touching them together.
  • Jump leads are colour-coded to match the side of the battery they are meant to be connected to. The red cable is for the battery’s positive terminal which is usually red and marked with a (+) symbol. The black cable is for the battery’s negative terminal and is generally black.

How to jump start your car in 8 steps

Here’s how to jump a car with a dead battery using another car:

  1. To start the process, park the working car and the car with the dead battery, the casualty car, close to each other. This way you can help ensure the jump leads can reach between the vehicles.
  2. In the casualty car, make sure that you have turned off any electrical systems (like the hifi etc.), and lower the driver’s window if possible.
  3. Open the bonnets of both the working and the casualty car, and locate the battery in each (some cars may have the battery in the boot, check the owner’s manual if in doubt). Make sure the engines of both vehicles are turned off, and that the ignition keys have been fully removed from the ignition.
  4. Attach the dead battery’s positive (red) terminal of the battery to the working battery’s positive (red) terminal with the red jump lead. The positive terminal is usually marked in red and will have a plus symbol (+).
  5. Attach one end of the black jump lead to the working battery’s negative terminal. The other end of the jump lead should then be attached to an earthing point on the casualty car, away from the electrical and fuel system. Usually, a metal part that’s solid and easy to latch onto is best.
  6. Try to start the casualty vehicle. It should start within a few attempts. If it doesn’t it could be a sign there is another problem with the car, it is then advisable to get help from a mobile mechanic or a breakdown recovery service.
  7. Once the casualty car has started, leave it running for about 5-10 minutes (don’t remove the jump leads just yet)
  8. Turn the casualty car off, and remove the jump leads in the reverse order they were attached. So first remove the negative jump lead, then check whether the engine still starts ok. After that disconnect any remaining jump leads.

Jump starting a car should generally involve the same procedure across makes and models, however, there can be differences so it’s recommended to check and follow the procedure as outlined by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Battery with battery lead

Can you jump start an automatic car?

Yes, jump starting an automatic car is identical to the procedure used in a manual car when it comes to tapping power from a working car or a portable jump starter. Push starting is more tricky with automatic cars and it will depend on the type of vehicle whether this is possible. Make sure you follow the recommended procedure for your make and model. It’s very important to do it in the way recommended as it could damage the battery of both cars involved if done incorrectly.

Can you jump start a car with a stop-start battery?

Yes, you can jump start a car with a stop-start battery. There shouldn’t be any difference between the procedure on vehicles with the feature versus vehicles that don’t have the feature, except hybrids. However, it’s worth checking your vehicle’s handbook for the recommended procedure to ensure that no parts of the system are damaged.

Can I jump start a car by pushing?

In the case of a manual car, it may be possible to jump start a car by the “pushing” or “bump start” method.

  • Ensure Safety: First, make sure it’s safe to perform a push start. You should do this in a clear, flat, or slightly downhill area without much traffic. Check that the steering and brakes, which may require more effort when the engine is off, are functioning properly.
  • Prepare the Car: Put the car in neutral and turn on the ignition so the electrical systems are active. Make sure the parking brake is disengaged. If possible, position the car facing downhill; gravity will help. If you’re on flat ground, you’ll need 1 or 2 people to push the car.
  • Push Start: Once everything is in place, depress the clutch pedal fully with the car in second gear (second gear is often recommended because it provides a smoother start than first gear). Begin pushing the car or let it roll down the hill. Once you’ve reached a speed of about 5 to 10 miles per hour (8 to 16 kilometres per hour), quickly release the clutch pedal. The motion should cause the engine to turn over and start. Immediately press the clutch again to prevent the car from stalling.

How long do I need to leave the car running after a jump start?

After jump-starting your car, it’s generally recommended to keep the engine running for at least 20 to 30 minutes. This time allows the alternator to charge the battery. However, if the battery is very old or in poor condition, this may not be enough time to fully charge it, and a longer drive or a dedicated charge using a battery charger might be necessary.

For a battery that’s still in good condition, driving the car for a longer period, especially at highway speeds, will help ensure the battery gets sufficiently charged. Remember, if you find yourself jump starting frequently, then it might be a sign that the battery is failing and needs to be replaced. In such cases, we recommend having a professional mechanic check the vehicle or get a battery replacement.

Marketing at ClickMechanic

Meet Kurt, an automotive industry expert with over 13 years of experience. He currently leads the Marketing & Growth team at ClickMechanic, of which he has been an integral part of for the past decade. He has been involved with most parts of the business helping grow the company to new heights, from the creation of the innovative quote engine, and operations, to content and growth marketing automation.

With his extensive background in car repairs and customer support, Kurt is well-positioned to share his expertise on automotive technical topics. A car aficionado from an early age, his physical journey in the automotive world began with his trusty VW Golf 4, which took him on memorable adventures throughout Europe during his student days.

Outside of work, Kurt is a maker, as well as a design and technology enthusiast, embodying a unique blend of creativity and precision with an international outlook. He has a keen interest in the latest advancements in car maintenance and clean vehicle technology, as well as a heart for classic cars. His favourite classic cars include the Lancia Fulvia Series 2 and the Citroen DS, showcasing his appreciation for timeless automotive craftsmanship.