Jump Starter Reviews

How to Jumpstart a Car

When I was a kid, owning my first car, jump starter leads was one of things I knew I should carry about in the car – just in case the battery failed. Even though I carried those black and red leads around everywhere, I always dreaded the thought of having to actually use them because I never understood how to jumpstart a car, and I think a lot of people are the same.

car jump starters

Various Car Jump Starter Models

Jump leads conjure up images of sparks and electrocution to a lot of drivers who have maybe used them once or twice; holding those plastic handles at arms length as if they were on fire, trying to remember if it should be the earth cable that is attached first, and which one is earth anyway, red or black??

Then there was the embarrassment and inconvenience of having to ask someone else if they wouldn’t mind parking next to your dead car, opening the bonnet, and letting you hook up to their battery. That’s never a good feeling. And that’s if you could even find someone you knew, or worse, a total stranger, or even worse stuck somewhere with no-one else around and nothing to connect your jump leads to!

All of these concerns are quashed thanks to modern jump starters; no need for another vehicle to hook up to, and safety features to prevent incorrect connections.

powerall jump starter

Modern Jump Starter

But, even if you have prepared yourself and carry a jump starter rather than just a set of leads, you still have to be aware that this is a potentially dangerous situation and you should be aware of the proper procedure for jump starting your car. Let’s face it, if and when your car battery fails, the last thing you want to do, or will have time to do, is whip out the instruction manual (if you can find it) and give yourself a 10 minutes lesson on jump starting your car.

So if you have come to this page to prepare for such an eventuality, well done, you can go ahead and purchase a jump starter knowing that when the time comes you can be up and running again in a matter of mere minutes, without taking any risks.

Talking about risks, before we get to the 7 point instructions, let’s be clear about the risks…

car warning triangle


When dealing with electricity there is always a risk of electrocution or fire. With motor cars the risk of electrocution is actually very small as the car batteries are only 12v. So although this is rare and usually confined to people who did not follow the procedures below, be aware that over 400 people have been injured in the USA trying to jump start their cars.

For this reason, although we provide a guide on how to jumpstart your car here for both jump starters and for jump cables, the risks are the same and you should read the products supplied instructions. If you loose the instructions, we have provided links to the manufacturers instruction manuals on every jump starter review published here.

Even if you have not lost the instructions, or have not bought a jump starter yet, why not download the instructions now and keep them on your mobile device for quick and easy reference when that emergency occurs?


So why is there a risk…? The battery in your car is constructed using lead-acid which can under the wrong circumstances vent hydrogen gas. If this gas escapes from a battery, either through vent holes or corroded caps, there is a potential for an explosion. For an explosion the gas requires a spark, which can be provided by merely connecting jumper cables to a battery. To reduce the risk of a spark, the sequence for connection to battery terminals is always the same, as laid out in the 7 steps below. Follow this positive then negative connection followed by a negative – positive disconnection and you will reduce this risk.


jump starter checklist

So, for the short of attention span readers out there, here is the short and sweet version of how to jump start your car using a jump starter. If you want to understand the procedure a little more fully, read on, we’ve got it all covered here!


How To Jumpstart a Car Using a Jump Starter

This is the easiest way to jump start a car not least because you only have two clamps to fix on instead of 4!

  1. Wear Eye Protection
  2. Turn off Ignition
  3. Attach the red+ positive clamp to the positive battery terminal
  4. Attach the black negative- clamp to the vehicle ground point.*
  5. Turn the Ignition for up to 5 or 6 seconds until the vehicle starts.**
  6. Disconnect the black negative- clamp  from the battery
  7. Disconnect the  red+ positive clamp from the battery

*  If you do not know where this is, use a clean non painted metal part AWAY from the battery
**If the vehicle does not start wait 5 minutes to allow the jump starter to cool.

How To Jumpstart a Car Using Jump Cables (Booster Cables)

Hopefully you have a good set of jumper cables, as the better the quality, the more chance of getting that dead battery started. Jumper cables are rated by wire thickness gauge. The thicker the wire is, the longer and more efficient the cable will be. Check the Gauge number, the lower this number is, the better the cable is. Anything lower than an 8 gauge is sufficient for general motoring but going lower than a 4 guage is probably more than anyone would normally need. Heres’ the best selling jumper cables on Amazon.

  1. Wear Eye Protection
  2. Turn off Ignition on both vehicles
  3. Attach the red+ positive clamp to the positive battery terminal of the flat battery
  4. Attach the other end of the red+ cable to the good battery in the other vehicle.
  5. Attach the black negative- clamp to the negative- terminal on the good battery in the other vehicle
  6. Finally attach the other end of the black cable to the earth point in your car AWAY from the battery (NOT the battery, use an unpainted surface in the engine bay)
  7. Turn the Ignition in your car.
  8. Disconnect the clamps in the reverse order.

In summary then connection sequence is as follows

Connect : Red – Dead, Red – Good, Black – Good, Black – earth point in dead vehicle
Disconnect: Black in dead vehicle, Black in Good, Red in Good, Red in Dead

That’s the quick start guide to jump starting a car, what follows is the full blown fully detailed authoritative jump starting guide anywhere. Why? Because there is some really bad advice out there on what is a potentially serious topic.

Believe it or not, one of the world’s top auto recovery services even fails to advise its motorist members on the correct sequence of connections for jump starting.

So relax, you are in the right place, read this and you will know ALL you need to know about jump starting cars.

 How to Jumpstart a Car – The Full Guide


First things first. Is it really your battery that is dead, or is their an ignition problem? There really is no point in trying to jump a battery if the battery is actual fine and it is another component that is faulty. It’s only going to take a few seconds to confirm that the problem is the battery so don’t jump to conclusions, make like sherlock and be systematic!

Put the key in the ignition and turn it so the electrics come, now switch the lights on, get out the car and take a look. Are the lights shining bright? Then your battery is fine, you need to look elsewhere for the problem before thinking about a solution! If the lights are dim, and the instrument panel is not lighting up properly, then it is indeed a battery issue, carry on to step 2!


Hold on cowboy, I’m not convinced it is the battery just yet. Turn the ignition all the way and listen to the engine. If the engine is turning quickly but not springing to life, then you have an ignition or fuel supply issue. If you hear nothing, or the engine turn very slowly, then chances are the battery is dead and you should now proceed to step 3!


Recognise and understand your battery. Your battery has a positive and a negative terminal. Knowing which is which is essential, there are no second chances here. So to help with this car manufacturers give you two clues. First of all the polarity of the terminals is indicted by either a PLUS (+) or a NEGATIVE (-) symbol right next to the terminal. Secondly, a consistent color coding is used in the motor industry, where RED is POSITIVE and BLACK is NEGATIVE. As the sequence of connection is vital, you need to know this. Try to commit this to memory now 🙂


If you are using jump leads, you need a fully charged battery from another car, so pull up the good vehicle next to the dead vehicle so that the battery compartments are near each other, switch them both off and turn off all electrics in both. Lift the bonnets and pull out your jumper cables. If you have a jump starter, you can skip this step obviously!


Pull on your safety glasses ( you did have them stored with the jump leads right?) and inspect the dead battery. Any signs of damage, wear or leakage means you should stop right now, go to the store, and buy a new battery. Messing around with a suspicious battery is not worth the risk! If it looks good then we can continue.


Lay your cables out and you will notice they are colored black and red, that’s got to be a clue right? Before you pick up the red cable and attach it to the dead battery remember this, these cables are going to complete a circuit shortly, and become live. Make sure that you do not let either of the clamps touch each other during the hook up process or you will create sparks. Not only does this give you a fright, it is dangerous as sparks can start fires. Keep the clamps clear of each other. 


So the first thing to remember is “Red Dead” – this is your starting point. Remember this and the clamping sequence is easier to get right and avoid sparking or component damage. So, “Red Dead” tells us to connect the red jumper clamp to the red (ie positive) battery terminal in the dead vehicle. If you are using jump leads, now take the other red clamp and connect it to the Red (ie positive) battery terminal in the Live car.


That’s the red cable sorted, so pick up the black cable next. If you are using a jump starter, skip this step. For booster cables, as we are standing next to the live car, we stay there and connect the black clamp to the negative terminal of the live car. Now we only have one loose clamp to fix….


See how we are working in a circle here? Starting at the problem, going to the working battery, then finally back to where we started at the dead battery. So to complete the circuit go back to the dead battery but DO NOT connect the black clamp to the battery terminal. While this will complete the circuit, there is an inherent risk of sparking with the last connection, and if you spark next to a battery there is a risk of causing a hydrogen explosion. So, we need to find an alternative earth point. Most modern engines have a clean meta stub somewhere away from the battery for this exact purpose. If you cannot see it, check the user manual to locate it. If you still cannot find it, that’s okay, just connect that last black clamp to any clean unpainted metal surface in the engine bay, away from the battery.


So now we have created a new electrical circuit with a good battery, or we have hooked up the jump starter. Now we just have to crank the engine of the dead car and it will draw power from the good battery or the jump starter. Before we start the engine take a quick look in the engine bay to make sure you have not left any tools lying around and that the jumper cables are not dangling near any moving parts. Jump into the dead car and turn the ignition, after a few seconds the car should burst into life and you are good to go. Keep the engine running in the car for up to a minute to allow the dead battery to start gaining a charge before proceeding to the next step.


Now remove the jumper cables in the reverse order, remembering not to to allow any of the clamps to touch during this process! So, Black cable off the dead battery first, then the other end of the black cable which is in the live car. Still in the live car, remove the red cable from the good battery and then remove the last clamp, the red one, from the dead battery.

Simple when you know how!


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