Whether you’ve literally just broken down, or you’re preparing yourself in case you ever break down, this guide will provide you with the knowledge required to correctly use jump leads.

Sourcing a battery

Before you can do anything, you need to get yourself a car with a charged battery or a jump pack/battery charger.

For the sake of this guide, we will assume that you have borrowed someone’s car, as the steps for either battery type are the same.

Once you have permission to use someone’s car, you want to make sure that it is parked either opposite or parallel to your car. 

This way you won’t have to risk stretching the jump leads, which could cause them to fall off more easily.

Then, with the cars in place, apply the handbrake, put it in neutral/park and turn off the ignition in both vehicles.

Connecting Cables

Now we begin with the actual cables. Your cables should be colour coded, red for the positive terminals and black for the negative terminals.

After locating the batteries, you will also notice that they are colour coded, or at least have a symbol to help you decipher which terminal is which.

If you can’t find your battery, refer to your car’s manual, this will help you to locate it.

  1. We start by clamping the positive (red) clamp to the positive terminal of the (dead) battery.

  2. Then clamp the other end of your positive (red) lead to the positive terminal on the (healthy) battery.

  3. With the negative (black) lead, you want to connect it to the negative terminal on the (healthy) battery.

  4. IMPORTANT: Do not attach the other end of the negative (black) lead to the negative terminal on the (dead) battery, this can cause sparks.

    Instead find a bare piece of metal located around the (dead) battery, but not any moving pieces.

    A good example of something you could use is a bolt.

  5. You can now start the (healthy) car. This will begin to charge the (dead) battery.

    You may wish to let the battery charge for a few minutes before attempting to start the (dead) car.

Once the battery is charged you should now be able to start your vehicle.

If for some reason your car won’t start, you should seek professional help before you attempt to drive it again, as there could likely be problems elsewhere.

If your car did start then simply turn off both cars and unclamp the jump leads.

It is also worth noting that if you can, you should take your car for a short drive as this will help to charge your battery up, and help prevent it dying again.