Car Not Starting? How to Jump Start Your Car

Keep Your Car Running


Would you know what to do if your car wouldn’t start? Do you own a set of jump leads or know where they are should you need them in an emergency? These questions are important, but if your answers are ‘no’, then you need to continue reading. When the time comes to start up your car but nothing happens, it’s important that you know what to do.

If you don’t feel comfortable jump starting your car, we’d advise that you seek assistance from a professional breakdown service, which is sometimes included in your car insurance policy. Alternatively, a friend or family member may be able to tow your vehicle to the nearest garage.

In a previous article, we compiled a comprehensive list of what to include in your car emergency kit and this list included a set of jump leads. While they’re useful to have, it’s also essential that you know how to use them should you find yourself stranded with a flat battery.

How To Start A Car With Jump Leads

Jump starting your car is a safe procedure when done correctly, so be sure to follow our instructions carefully to get back on the road in no time.

You will need:

  • A set of jump leads that contain a red lead and a black lead
  • Another car with a charged battery
  • Some safety gear, such as a breakdown triangle
  • Your vehicle’s handbook

Once you’ve got all of these, all you need is a little confidence and some knowhow.

1. Check Your Vehicle’s Handbook

The first thing to do is check your vehicle’s handbook. You should keep this in your car at all times so that it’s readily available. Find the section on jump starting and read what it says. Some vehicles require model-specific procedures, and it’s a good idea to read what the manufacturer has to say.

2. Find Your Jump Leads

You should keep a pair of jump leads in your car for emergencies. If you don’t have any, you may need to call a friend or family member and ask them to drop some off to you.

3. Connect The Jump Leads

Once you have the leads and a car with a working battery, it’s time to try jump starting. It’s best to park the car with the already charged battery as close to your own vehicle as you can without them touching. This will make the process easier. After the cars are in position, ensure the hand brakes are engaged and the engines are off.


Which Jump Lead Goes On First?

When attaching the jump leads, it’s important to first connect the red cable to the positive terminal on the battery of the charged vehicle and then do the same on your own vehicle. The positive terminal is typically marked with a ‘+’ symbol.


Once the red lead is attached, you can connect the black lead to the negative terminals of the charged-battery vehicle, sometimes marked with a ‘-‘ symbol. The other end of the black lead doesn’t attach to your car’s battery but to an unpainted metal surface on your car, ideally away from the battery and the fuel system.


How Long Should I Leave Jump Leads On For?

Once all the leads are attached, leave them connected for at least five minutes. This allows enough time for the voltages to equalize, transferring some voltage to your drained battery.

4. Turn The Engines On And Wait

After these five minutes have passed, you should first start the engine of the vehicle with the working battery. Then, wait for around one minute before starting up your own engine. Leave both cars running for around 10 minutes.

5. Remove The Jump Leads

Now that both cars are running successfully, it’s time to turn off the engines and remove the cables. When doing this, be aware that the engines may be hot, and you may have to leave them to cool for around 10 minutes before touching the jump leads.

The leads should be removed in reverse order (the black cable from your own car first, followed by the red cable).

6. Start Up Your Car

You should now find that your car battery has enough charge to start the engine. If successful, you may not require any further professional help at this point. However, it is advised that your vehicle is taken to a garage so that the battery can be checked, as well as the general health of your car for any underlying issues that may have caused the fault.

What If It Doesn’t Work?

If your vehicle still doesn’t start after the jump starting process, then you may need to call a breakdown service or have your vehicle towed to the nearest garage for assistance. Before doing this, you should contact your insurance provider to check whether you have breakdown assistance or a designated garage where repairs must take place. Many car insurance providers offer breakdown assist either as standard, with a motor policy, or as an additional benefit which you can add to your cover. Make sure to check with your current insurer or broker to ensure that you are covered in case you encounter either a flat battery or some other roadside issue where you may need professional assistance.

Jump Start A Car By Pushing It

When jump starting a car with jump leads isn’t an option, people used to favour the method of push starting it instead. However, this method is no longer advised and is rarely a successful way of starting up the engine. Therefore, we’d advise following the jump leads method above. If this isn’t an option, you should call a professional to tow your vehicle to a suitable location.