How to Jump Start a Car with a Flat Battery

Sponsored Post: At this time of year flat batteries are a common problem for motorists. Batteries have to work harder in the winter, to power the lights, wipers, heating fans, and so on, and it’s easy for them to get run down.

This is even more likely to happen if – like many older people – you don’t use your car regularly or use it only for short journeys. It’s always best not to leave it too long between trips and try to fit in the occasional longer run that will power up the battery again.

But what if, despite all this, you find yourself with a flat battery? Don’t despair – as long as you have a set of jump leads (jumper cables as they are also called) and another car that is working normally, you can be up and running again in a few minutes. If you don’t have jump leads already, you can pick up a set cheaply at any local motoring store or Amazon.

jumper cables

Jump leads or jumper cables

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Park the cars nose to nose, so that there is easy access from one engine compartment to the other. Switch off both cars’ engines. Ensure that the brakes are on and the cars are in neutral (or Park in the case of automatics).

2. Open the hoods of both cars. Attach the red jump lead to the positive (+) terminal of the car with the flat battery. Attach the other end of this cable to the working car’s positive (+) terminal.

3. Attach the black cable to the working battery’s negative (–) terminal and the other end to an exposed metal section on your car, e.g. a bracket, bolt or strut. This must be at least a foot away from the battery.

4. Now start the working car and let it run for a few minutes, revving the engine slightly.

5. Then attempt to start your car. Nine times out of ten this will work. If it does, remove the cables in the reverse order you connected them, i.e. starting with the black cable attached to exposed metal on your car. Close the hood, but don’t switch off your engine yet! Drive around for at least 15 minutes to charge up your battery.

If your car still won’t start, leave it connected to the other car for another five minutes and try again. If you still have no success, it may be that your battery is too drained and needs replacing. Or there may be another fault in your car’s electrical system. Either way, it’s probably time to call in the professionals. The same applies if the problem occurs again the next time you try to start your car.

Good luck, and I really hope you don’t need to use the advice in this post too often!

  • For much more advice about buying, selling and maintaining cars, check out Cars.com.
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