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How to Safely Jump Start your Car

By Joel Ilton on Wednesday, 20 September 2017

 

There are many ‘misconceptions’ when it comes to jump starting a vehicle. Many people believe that they will cause damage if they jump start their car.

This can be true and the best way to check if it is safe to do so, is by looking in your owner's manual. There will be a section dedicated to jump starting and other precautions when your vehicle does not start.

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If your car is a hybrid, it is recommended NOT to jump start your vehicle, as it can cause damage to the hybrid system, as well as possible electrocution.

Once you have determined if it is safe to jump start your car, the next step is to locate the battery.

Most vehicles have the battery located under the bonnet, although some newer vehicles have them located in the boot, or in some European cars, under the passenger seat.

These vehicles will have special tabs under the bonnet, to allow for vehicle jump starting. Again, your owner’s manual will be able to show you the location of these tabs.

Now that you have located the battery or tabs, it’s time to connect up the jumper cables.

The cables should be free from any damage and the clamps free from rust and other debris.

Cables with a built in surge protector are even better, as they can stop any damage from connecting the leads up incorrectly, or from a spike when the leads are first connected.

Make sure the vehicle that you are connecting to for your jumpstart is switched off.

Connect up the positive lead onto the flat battery first (this will be identified by a red colour around the terminal, or a red cover over the terminal), and then connect to the fully charged battery.

Next, connect the negative cable to the flat vehicle by connecting it to the engine block, on an unpainted metal component under the bonnet.

Connecting it straight to the battery negative terminal increases the chances, however unlikely, of causing the battery to explode.

Once you have found a suitable location, connect up the negative cable to the negative battery post on the fully charged battery.

When the cables are connected securely, start the vehicle that you are receiving the jump start from and allow it to run for 2-5 minutes, to provide the flat battery with some charge.

Following this, try to start the flat vehicle and, once it is running, disconnect the jumper cables from the fully charged vehicle, starting with the negative cable.

DO NOT allow the positive and negative cables to touch, as this will cause a spark and possible electrocution.

Once disconnected from the vehicle, remove the cables from the flat vehicle, once again starting with the negative cable.

The flat vehicle will need to be allowed to operate for at least 30 mins, to allow the alternator to charge the battery adequately.

Following these simple steps will make it easy if you ever get stranded with a flat battery - and always make sure to thank the person who stopped to give you a jump!

 

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Image credits: Jump starting car by Doug Waldron (License CC BY-SA 2.0); Jump starting car by 'Longhair' (License CC BY 2.5)

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