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How to use jump leads

Updated February 21, 2017

When trying to jump-start a car battery, you hook up jump leads between two vehicles to get the dead one started. It's not a difficult process, but when working with electrical systems, you must take proper precautions. Follow along as we walk you through the process of using jump leads and show you the right way to do it.

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  1. Pull the two vehicles together so that they are nose to nose. Since one vehicle is usually immobile if it requires a jump, nose the other vehicle into position where the two vehicles' batteries are fairly close together.

  2. Open the bonnets on both vehicles and take out the jump leads. Locate the batteries in the engine bay.

  3. Take the jump leads and position them on the dead vehicle's battery. Place the red jump lead on the (+) positive terminal and the black lead on the (-) negative terminal. The leads are simple clamps, so this should be pretty easy to do. If for some reason there is no (-) negative terminal, you can also clamp the lead onto the frame of the vehicle.

  4. Be careful not to touch the two connections together, and connect the other end of the jump leads to the battery of the running vehicle in the same fashion, red to (+) positive and black to (-) negative. If you touch the wires together, you can cause sparks and potentially damage the battery. Do not, under any circumstances, cross the wires.

  5. Let the working vehicle run for a minute or two while the leads are connected. This will let the functioning vehicle charge the dead one and help get it started. After a few minutes has passed, try to start the dead vehicle. If it starts, you're good to go. If not, wait another few minutes and try again. It's possible that the battery is beyond a simple jump start.

  6. Warning

    Be careful never to cross the leads on jump leads. This can cause damage to the battery and the vehicle.

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Things You'll Need

  • Jump leads (leads)

About the Author

Russell Wood is a writer and photographer who attended Arizona State University. He has been building custom cars and trucks since 1994, including several cover vehicles. In 2000 Wood started a career as a writer, and since then he has dedicated his business to writing and photographing cars and trucks, as well as helping people learn more about how vehicles work.

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