How to Jump Start a Car


The hospital let me know that I was due for a blood draw. So bright and early Sunday morning (because I wasn’t foregoing breakfast a moment longer than needed) I pulled into the almost empty parking lot.

There was another car near the hospital’s front entrance. A woman was standing in front of her mid-90s green sedan – the hood wide open – looking frustrated and unhappy. I asked if she had help already as I hopped out of my own MomMobile.

Her: I left the key in the ignition; it won’t start. A woman was here and said she was going to call security. But I haven’t seen anyone since.

Her: Do you have jumper cables by any chance?

  • I most certainly do have jumper cables. Thanks to the planning and preparedness of Jon, I not only have jumper cables tucked away in the MomMobile’s rear boot but a jacket, a blanket, towels, bottles of fresh water, a toolbox, a flashlight with extra batteries, a crank radio, protein bars and a hatchet. (I am well prepared for the zombie apocalypse and/or a rush on free Costco samples in the suburban wilderness.)

Her: Do you know how to jump a car?

  • I have Google.

The one critical component missing from this endeavor was the knowledge of how to open the hood of my vehicle.

I began poking and prodding at all the corners and crevices in and around the dashboard while the stranded lady grew increasingly concerned regarding the survivability of this little experiment.

Finally, after exhausting all options and racking up oily and goopy failures by the dozen, I called Jon.

Me: How do I open the hood?

Jon: I’d have to see it. I think you should just follow the steering column and find the handle.

Me: I’m trying to help a woman jump her car.

Jon: Does *she* know how to jump a car?

Me: It can’t be that hard. Red thing goes on the other, then start your engines.


  • I feel Jon’s confidence in my automotive abilities are greatly diminished by an overall lack of hood latch awareness.

Me: Don’t be so negative. (That’s the black one.)

Two engine revs after a proper cable connection (red on positive, black on negative) and both cars were happily idling away.

The previously stranded lady hugged me. There is an equal part chance she was grateful for the fact I stopped and stayed to help as she was positively delighted we both came away with all fingers and eyebrows intact.


How to Jump a Car

  1. Park cars nose to nose.
  2. Explore all of jumper cars driver side dashboard in search of hood latch. (Give up and Google car’s make and model with the question.)
  3. Locate the battery.
  4. Google “how to jump a car” and read three separate articles just to be sure.
  5. Attach red clip to red positive terminal on battery on each car.
  6. Attach black clip to black terminal on battery on each car.
  7. Comment that today’s batteries are like automotive grr-animals to make sure you match.
  8. Start your engines!
  9. Hold your breath in the hopes that a shower of fiery sparks does not rain down as a prelude to an impressive “good thing we’re already at the hospital” explosion.
  10. Turn off jumper car. Let jumpee car idle and recharge.
  11. Revel in the fact you know you can now jumpstart the forklift when faced with the zombie apocalypse at Costco.

1 Comment

Filed under Cars, Seriously?

One Response to How to Jump Start a Car

  1. Gramma J

    I think you are supposed to “ground” the two clips after charging and make sure not to touch them together. The battery to the old BMW was in the back of the car buried inside. Calling the automobile club was an option too. But, yes, I have charged batteries several times.

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