Here is a quick guide to walk you through.

  • Attach the positive ( red ) cable to the positive ( + ) terminal on the dead battery.
  • Attach the other end of the positive cable to the positive terminal on the good battery.
  • Attach the negative ( black ) jumper cable to the negative ( – ) terminal on the dead battery.
  • Attach the other end of the negative jumper cable to the negative terminal on the good battery.

Now you are ready to start the car. Let the engine run for a minute to charge the battery up before disconnecting the jumper cables.  Now you can remove the jumper cables in the reverse order that you put them on.

So now that your car is running, how do you know if your alternator is out or battery is dead?

The alternator is the device that charges your battery as the engine is running. If your alternator is good, then once the car is running, the alternator will keep charging they system.  So, after you jump the car, turn your headlights on and watch them for a minute or two. If they maintain their brightness, than your alternator is good and you just need a battery. If the headlamps get gradually dimmer, than your alternator is not properly charging the battery and you need to replace the alternator.


Another issue we see a lot is battery corrosion.

Corrosion will appear on the terminals of the battery over time. If not addressed, then the corrosion will eat away at the cables and terminals. Cleaning the terminals is a fairly simple process.

  • You can take a wire brush and scrub the corrosion off.
  • Or You can pour a Coke on the battery. Pour the Coke, let it sit for 5 minutes then hose it off with water.

The wire brush will do a much better job of cleaning the corrosion, but a simple Coke can help clean it off if you don’t have a brush available.

battery replace terminal corrosion will need battery cables

So how do you know your battery is weak and getting ready to die?

If you don’t want to wait until that dreaded day when you hit the key and your car wont start, than you need to have your battery checked once or twice a year. When you take your car for service ( oil change or tire changes ) ask your mechanic to check your battery. Or if you suspect it is getting low, swing by an auto parts store and ask them to check it for you. Most every shop and parts house will do a battery check for free.