Picture this: you’re having a hectic day, you have gotten out of work late and you need to rush home to fix dinner and help the kids with homework. Then it happens, you hop into your vehicle only to be greeted by the dreaded “click” when you place the key in the ignition. It is then that you understand that you aren’t going anywhere. That is, not until you get a jumpstart for your battery.

If this should happen to you, try not to stress. Simply follow these tips to help power up your car and get you back on the road.


Jumper cables: We recommend keeping jumper cables in your vehicle at all times as a part of your roadside emergency kit. Jumper cables often come in different lengths, with the usual sizes being around 10 feet or 20 feet. Longer may not always be better. Longer cables may reach further, but you can run the risk of losing power when using them, as the current has further to travel between vehicles. Make sure your cables are not damaged, frayed or rusted.

Paper towel or rag: You should also consider keeping these in your roadside emergency kit. For jumpstarting a vehicle, they come in handy when your battery terminals are dirty. When you wipe the terminals clean before jumping, you allow for a better connection and a more successful jump.

A vehicle with a charged battery: If you don’t have a portable power box handy you will need another vehicle to get those battery juices flowing. Remember, the working battery’s voltage needs to be the same as the dead one in your vehicle. Most batteries in today’s vehicles are around 12 volts or higher.


Preparation: Take all of the  tools you need out so they are ready for use. If your battery terminals are dirty, take the time to clean them off. Any devices you have in your vehicle, like phone chargers, for example, should be unplugged. Once the vehicle that is coming to your aid is parked close enough, make sure each vehicle is set to “park” (P). Make sure the ignition is shut off on both vehicles and that their parking brakes are engaged.

Connect the cables: First, connect a red cable to the positive (+ or POS) terminal on your dead battery. Then connect the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the working vehicle.  After this, while you are still at the battery of the working vehicle, connect a black cable to the negative (- or NEG) terminal. Finally, connect the last black cable to a metal surface that is unpainted under the hood of the dead vehicle. Make sure it is placed at a decent distance from dead battery to allow for the circuit to be ground and preventing sparking.

Start the vehicle with a charged battery: Once the cables are in place you should then start the already charged vehicle, letting it run for two to five minutes depending on just how drained the dead battery is.

Start your vehicle: After you have let the working vehicle run for a couple of minutes, attempt to start your vehicle. If it doesn’t start, run the charged vehicle about two to three more minutes and try again.

Don’t shut off your vehicle: Once your vehicle starts, do not turn it off!

Remove the jumper cables: The jumper cables should be removed in the opposite order of which they were put on. So, you start with the black one that was on the dead battery, then the black from the good battery. After that you remove the red cable from the good battery, then the red from what was the dead battery.

Drive: To be sure the battery gets charged you will need to drive for a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes.

If you’ve recently had to jumpstart your battery, bring your vehicle to Meridian Automotive for a battery test, and if needed, replacement. We provide car battery replacement services in Meridian, Idaho, for most cars, light trucks, and SUV’s. For over 20 years we’ve been Meridian’s automotive repair experts. Call us today (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment online.

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