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How To Jumpstart A Dead Car Battery

connecting jumper cables to a car battery

Here’s a quick and simple guide on how to properly boost a dead car battery while minimizing risk.

Canadian winters can be hard on car batteries. As residents of Western Canada, we’ve all experienced times when someone needs a boost, or when we’ve needed one ourselves. Cold weather and long periods of darkness (lights are left on longer) mean that incidents of battery failure occur more frequently in the winter. Here’s how to properly boost a battery while minimizing risk:


1. Verify that both batteries have the same voltage. The voltage is usually printed on a white or yellow sticker on top of the battery.

2. Confirm that the dead battery isn’t frozen. It’s unsafe to jumpstart a frozen battery, so make sure that the contents inside are still liquid. If you’re unsure, pull off one of the caps and look for ice inside. If the engine cranks at all, you’re probably fine.

3. Ensure your jumper cables are in good working order. If the ends are coated in rust or dirt, clean them off with some sandpaper or a wire brush.

4. Identify the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals of both batteries. In general, red cables mean positive and black mean negative. However, it’s best to check for symbols on the battery itself because crossing them can create a dangerous short circuit.

5. Pull both cars close enough to each other to connect the jumper cables, but don’t let them touch.

6. Turn off both cars all the way – don’t leave accessory power on. Shift both cars into park or neutral and turn off the ignition switch, lights and accessories.

7. Connect the jumper cables in the following order:

  • Connect one red clamp to the positive terminal of the dead battery.

  • Connect the other red clamp to the positive terminal of the good battery.

  • Connect one black clamp to the negative terminal of the good battery.

  • Connect the other black clamp to a clean metal surface under the hood of the car with the dead battery. Never connect it directly to the negative terminal of the dead battery. This could create a spark and ignite the explosive gases emitted by the battery.

8. Start the booster car and allow the engine to run for two or three minutes before attempting to start the car with the dead battery.

9. Once the car with the dead battery starts, immediately disconnect the jumper cables in reverse the order.

10. Allow the boosted vehicle to run for at least 20 minutes to charge the battery.

If your car requires frequent jumpstarts, it’s probably time for a new battery. Fortunately, we carry several types of automotive batteries including AGM, lithium, gel, and lead-acid models.


Battery Experts in Winnipeg, Brandon, Regina, Edmonton & Toronto

Prairie Battery is your one-stop shop for all things battery-related. We carry a wide selection of car batteries, jumper cables, and accessories to ensure you stay safe on the road. If your battery has failed, or you’d like to have it checked, contact us at a location nearest to you in Winnipeg, Brandon, Regina, Edmonton, or Toronto.


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