How To Jump Start a Car – Manual and Automatic

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. Cars can be jump started from either another car or portable battery, read our article to find out how to do it quickly and safely.

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 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.