Owning a working set of jumper cables -- and knowing how to use them -- is a must for drivers. Since using jumper cables incorrectly can be dangerous, follow every step precisely. Most jumper cables have an instruction card or label so you can make sure you're connecting them the right way.

  • Find a car to serve as the boosting car.
  • Park the two cars -- the dead car and the boosting car -- close to one another, making sure that they're not touching each other.
  • Make sure both cars' engines are turned off, and both cars are in park.
  • Clamp the red jumper cable (i.e. the positive cable) to the dead car's positive battery terminal, which is marked with a "+." Make sure that the clamp is firmly connected to the battery.
  • Clamp the other end of the red jumper cable to the booster car's positive battery terminal, also marked with a "+." Make sure that the clamp is firmly connected to the battery.
  • Clamp the black jumper cable (i.e. the negative cable) to the booster car's negative battery terminal, which is marked with a " - ". Make sure that the clamp is firmly connected to the battery.
  • Clamp the other end of the black jumper cable to a bare, metal surface on the engine of the dead car. This can be a bolt or a screw. This provides grounding for the jump start [source: Brauer].
  • Ensure that the jumper cables are not touching any engine parts.
  • Start the booster car's engine and let it idle for a few minutes.
  • Start the dead car's engine and let it idle for a few minutes.
  • Disconnect the black jumper cable from the once-stalled engine. Then disconnect the black jumper cable from the booster car.
  • Remove the red jumper cable from the booster car. Then remove the red jumper cable from the once-stalled car.

If this process doesn't work, the dead car's problem may not be with the battery. That's when it's time to call a tow truck or roadside service provider.