The headlights got left on and the battery ran out in your vehicle. Or maybe it was your kids playing with the cabin light. Perhaps your battery is on its last legs anyway and winter just hit. Whatever the reason, your battery is dead and you need a jump to get moving. Here’s how to do it, one step at a time.

  1. Make sure that the vehicle you are going to jump is similar to the vehicle that will do the jumping. Never use a car to charge a motorcycle, for example. And tractors, snowmobiles, and other such vehicles should also not be charged by a car or truck. Some of these smaller vehicles have 6-volt systems. Commercial trucks also do not mix, as they have a positive ground. Crossing vehicle types for a charge has led to fires, explosions, electrical damage, and even serious injuries or death.
  2. Safety is the most important thing! The black and red clips on the jumper cables should never touch. And don’t look directly at either of the batteries during the process. If possible, use glasses or a face shield.
  3. Bring the vehicles facing each other close enough together that the cables can reach from one battery to the other. (But if that would mean blocking traffic or driving the wrong way on a one-way street, get police or tow help instead.)
  4. Turn off the dead car.  Turn on the vehicle that is doing the jumping.
  5. On the dead car, connect the black clip to the negative (-) battery post and the red clip to the positive (+) battery post.
  6. On the running car, connect the red clip to the positive batter post and the black end to something metal on the car as a ground.  Leave the connections on for about half a minute.
  7. Turn the key on the dead car to start it. It may take pushing the gas pedal a little (just a little) to aid the process, but don’t push the pedal all the way down and, of course, do not take the car out of park during this process.
  8. Once the car is running smoothly, remove the black connector from the other vehicle, then remove the red. On the newly charged vehicle, remove the red connector then the black one.
  9. Keep the newly charged vehicle running for 45 minutes to charge the battery. If the battery light comes on or the battery charge meter (for those vehicles that have it) shows a negative charge rate, take the vehicle directly to a Utah auto repair shop. This could indicate a problem that has not been resolved by jumping the car and if you turn the car off, it may not turn on again.