How to charge a car battery with jumper cables

Written by julia lai
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How to charge a car battery with jumper cables
Jump leads charging a car battery. (closeup of jump leads image by Katrina Miller from

Due to leaving your lights on, a lack of water in the cells of older batteries, or a faulty alternator, car batteries occasionally need an outside influx of electrical power. Jump leads are an excellent transmission method, and a necessary investment for anyone who drives regularly for long periods of time. During a lifetime of driving, any individual person will undoubtedly receive and give jump lead assistance. Jump leads are a relatively inexpensive investment, take up very little room, and are exceptionally easy to use in almost all weather conditions.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Jump Leads

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  1. 1

    Pop the bonnet of the car that needs the jump, and the hood of the car that has a fully operational battery. Turn off the engine of the car that needs the charge if it is not already dead. Inspect the surface of the battery that requires a charge. Check for pools of water or other fluid. Wipe away any excess fluids with a cloth.

  2. 2

    Inspect each terminal for debris or corrosion. Wipe the terminals with a soft dry rag or cloth. Identify the positive and negative terminals of the battery. Connect the red grip of the jump lead to the positive terminal of the battery that needs recharging, and the black grip to the negative terminal.

  3. 3

    Start the engine of the car with the operational battery. Attach the red grip of the other pair of grips on the jump lead to the positive terminal of the working battery, and the black grip to the negative terminal. Exercise extreme care; do not attach a positive terminal to a negative terminal by mistake.

  4. 4

    Attempt to start the engine of the car; if the car starts, the battery has been successfully recharged. Once the car has started and is running smoothly, remove the jump leads. Keep the car running to allow the vehicle's electrical system to continue charging the battery--a drive around the block is a good way to accomplish this.

Tips and warnings

  • Never let the two metal components of the grips touch while a charge is in progress, or an electrical shock may result.

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