A flat battery needn't ruin your journey - follow this guide to get back on the road. We've all been there: racing out the front door, already late for work. One turn of the car key confirms our worst fears - a flat battery. This would usually be a moment for gnashing teeth and a crowded bus ride, but with this 8 step guide to jump starting your car, you'll be motoring again in no time.

Step 1: Is it definitely the battery?

There's a simple way to tell if it's your battery that's gone kaput - you won't be able to start your car. A turn of the key will produce nothing bar a few clicks or a slow churning sound as it tries to turn the engine over. These are classic signs of a flat battery.

Step 2: Read your handbook

What you are reading now is a general guide to jump starting. For information that's specific to your car, take a look at its handbook just in case there are any little quirks that you need to be aware of.

Step 3: Get a set of jump leads

A flat battery doesn't necessarily mean you need a new one - but you will need a pair of jump leads, plus another car with a healthy battery.

Step 4: Locate your car's battery

Most car batteries can be found under the bonnet, though some flashy little numbers house the battery in the boot. Batteries are often found to the front of the engine in an easily accessible spot.

Step 5: Connect the jump leads

Park the other car as near to yours as possible (without touching), close enough so that the jump leads can connect to both cars' batteries. Important: Turn off both cars completely before connecting any leads. The positive terminal: Connect the positive terminal on the working car to the positive terminal on the flat car with the red jump lead. The positive terminal should be clearly marked with a + sign on the battery. The negative terminal: Connect the negative terminal on the working car to an earthing point on the flat car with the other (black) lead - be sure not to let the leads touch! The negative terminal should be clearly marked with a - sign on the battery. The earthing point can be a part of the bodywork or the engine block - it just needs to be metal and away from electronic or fuel components. Some modern cars have earthing points near the battery for this purpose.

Step 6: Fire it up

Make one final check to see that neither the cars nor the leads are touching each other, and then start up the healthy car. Let it idle for 30 seconds, then hold it at around 2,000rpm for another 30 seconds before trying to start the flat battery car. By now, there should be enough juice to fire it up. If not, turn off the flat car and wait another minute.

Step 7: Up and running

Once your car is running again, switch off the healthy car before disconnecting the leads - do this in reverse order - negative terminal first. The battery now has some juice in it. To ensure it keeps going, take your car for a 30-minute drive so the alternator can charge it up.

Step 8: Final check

When you next start your car, it should fire first time without hesitation. If it doesn't, the battery may be past its best - or you could have another problem. If that doesn't work, you may need to call your breakdown service or seek help from a local garage.