Jumper Cables Positive And Negative

Help! I’m trying to give my friend a jump, but I can’t remember—is red positive on jumper cables? I wasn’t sure how to use my jumper cables because they’re each a different color. What do the colors on my jump cable mean?

Sorry to hear that you were left stranded! We’re happy to help in whatever we can.

What is Jumper Cable?

Jumper cables are thick wires that can be used to start a car when its battery does not have enough power. Jumper cables connect the battery to the battery of another car that is working correctly.

Jumper cables, booster cables, or jumper leads (all three terms describe the same product), let you get a jump start of your dead car battery. The cables connect the battery of a running car to the battery of your dead (won’t-start) car.

Your Jumper cable have a 4 set of clips or alligator clips. The red jumper cable is positive and should be connected to the positive battery terminals. The remaining black cable is the negative cable and should be connected to the negative battery terminals.

Jumper Cables Positive And Negative

Related Post: How To Use Jumper Cables?

Jumper Cables Positive and Negative

Your jumper cables have 4 sets of clips or alligator clips. The Red jumper cable is positive and the black jumper cable is negative.

The red wire almost always means a positive conductor carrying current from the source when talking about the DC power cable color code. The return wire or negative cable is usually black. This is the widely accepted cable code convention used worldwide.

So, Is red positive on jumper cables? Yes, red is positive on jumper cables. The red jumper cable is connected to the positive battery terminal, and the black one is connected to the negative terminal. Reversing the wires can cause them to melt due to overheating.

If it is a black and yellow cable then: Yellow is positive and black is negative.

Always connect your jumper cables appropriately, as we shall see later in this post.

Which Jumper Cable Goes on First?

Once the two vehicles are in place, turn off both and open the hoods. Your jumper cables have 4 sets of clips, or alligator clips. Attach the red jumper cables first. Here’s the correct order for your jumper cables:

  • RED to DEAD: Connect the red clip to the positive terminal on your dead battery.
  • RED to DONOR: Connect the red clip to the positive terminal on the donor vehicle’s working battery.
  • BLACK to DONOR: Same car! Connect the black clip to the negative terminal on the donor vehicle’s working battery.
  • BLACK to METAL: Back to the dead battery. Connect the black clip to an unpainted metal part of the dead car (like a bolt or bracket) that is not directly next to the battery.

After starting the car with the good battery, let it run for one or two minutes, and then start the car with the dead battery and let it run. It will need to remain running to recharge the battery, so tell your friend to drive it around for at least 30 minutes.

Be sure to reverse the steps above when removing the cables!

When you need to jump a car battery, you may not remember the steps, and that’s natural.

Related Post: How To Jump Start a Car? A Step-by-Step Guide.

What Happens If You Connect The Jumper Cables Incorrectly?

Attaching the jumper cables incorrectly could lead to serious problems.Some of the most common issues with putting on jumper cables include:

  • Putting the black and red jumper cables in the wrong positions: If you connect the jumper cables to the wrong sides of the battery, you won’t be able to start the dead vehicle. Always make sure that the red cables connect to the side of the battery that features a plus (+) sign.
  • Attaching one of the black jumper cables to the dead battery: When you try to turn on the vehicle, sparks can appear, potentially reacting with or igniting flammable substances. Always connect the second black cable to a grounded metal part instead.
  • Neglecting to attach one of the jumper cables: If one of the jumper cables isn’t in place, the process won’t work correctly. If the dead battery still won’t start, double-check that you’ve attached all four ends of the jumper cables correctly.

Other Risks Of Using Jumper Cables In Reverse (Connected Positive To Negative Battery)

Connecting the battery terminals in reverse can cause serious damage to the battery itself, the electrical components, and even to yourself. Each terminal of a car battery uses 12V of current with positive and negative orientation. The cable on the positive terminal uses +12V while the one on the negative side uses -12V.

If the positives and negatives are switched, the battery will try to compensate and make the negative 12 volts into a positive charge resulting in a huge surge of power and an enormous amount of heat to be produced.

Needless to say, it will not be tolerated well by the system or the components within and depending on certain factors will incur damage that is mostly going to be severe and irreparable. 

  • Damage To Jumper Cables. With an instant surge of electricity, the first to face the wrath and the consequence of an experiment would the jumper cables. The extreme heat produced will quickly melt the insulators on the jumper cables, clamping them forever on the battery which will be next in line as the plastic top will melt and bend.
  • Damage To Car Battery. The battery will be warped as the acidic fluids inside will boil from the extreme heat produced in the reaction. Additionally, it may spill to damage parts in the vicinity and you might not be able to do anything about it.
  • Blown Fuse/Fusible Links. Whether you have an explosion or not depending on the other factors and the condition of the batteries, you will however surely find blown-up fuses and wires in your vehicle.
  • Damage To Alternator. The vehicle charging the bad battery might also suffer mechanical damage. The surge in power will have a negative effect on the alternator and may even cause irreparable harm.
  • Physical Damage. If the battery is in poor condition or has not been used in a while, jump-starting with cables reversed can worsen the situation. The bad battery can even explode and cause damage to the people around.