Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Proper Way to Jumpstart a Car!

Today my drive home from St. Johns I stopped at Walmart to pick up some toothpaste for the baby and noticed a Buick Rendezvous with its hood up and another truck with its hood up, with the owner of the latter attempting to jump start the former. I walked in and left Walmart without getting the toothpaste. (I got it at Meijer). The same two vehicles were out there without success. The battery in the disabled car was a no name one bungee corded in the tray (there wasn't even a tray) and a $10 pair of jumper cables joined the batteries together.

In fact,the battery on the disabled car was buried under the fuse panel and the washer bottle and accessible only by remote cables. The cables to the running car were hooked up fine, but those on the disabled cars were hooked suspect. For one thing, the engine mount is not a good place to hook up cables as these are insulated. They had it hooked on the block side, which was not giving a good ground in this case. I took off the $10 cables (which were a smaller gauge, or around than they should be). I got them off and running in less than five minutes...

A starter motor needs a lot of current to crank over, and most bargain cables aren't up to the job. Add to that the improper hook up and the GM cables, hooking them up is going to be an exercise in futility and frustration.

My jumper cables are not the top of the line. I paid about $20 for them in 1987 and they have the GM side terminal clamps molded in. They are a heavier gauge than most of the ones you buy in a department store and have served me well. To tell you the truth I haven't had to use them much, but when I do they come in handy.

The first order of business is to make sure the vehicles are close enough to comfortably hook up the cables, but not touching. If the disabled vehicle is on the highway at the side of the road, better call a wrecker first thing. I know they're expensive, but unless you have extra long cables, the alternative is extremely dangerous. I've nearly ran into some numb-keg trying to turn around on a busy freeway while traffic was screaming by at 70+ miles an hour. A wrecker will have longer, thicker cables; not to mention the pretty light show on top. Ahem.

Assuming that it's safe to do so, the cars are properly parked, transmissions in park and the parking brakes set, separate the ends of the cables. Each will have a black for negative and a bright color for positive. It realy doesn't matter which color you use for which as long as you duplicate the result on the other battery Positive has to hook to positive and negative, well I'll get into that later.

First, the running car, shut it off. Hook the positive cable to the positive temrminal on the battery or remote post. This will be marked with "positive" a "+" sign or the color red. Then take other end of the positive cable and hook it to the "+" side of the battery or remote terminal of the disabled car.

Next, take the negative cable end for the working car and clamp it to the battery (use the battery if at all possible) or at least the remote hookup for same. Do not use any other ground source. Now take the negative cable end for the disabled car and clamp it to the engine block or frame, but not the battery, it may explode!Now start teh working car and wait a minute or two before starting the disabled car.

A word of caution here, batteries give off hydrogen sulfide gas, which is explosive. Wear eye protection and don't smoke. The electrical systems in a modern car are extremely sensitive and improper jumping can really screw things up. Batteries really need to be held securely to the vehicle and not just flopping around because connections can break and the plates inside can shift, not to mention damage to the case. For crying out loud, batteries are expensive, but buying a cheap one is not a good option either.

I like the original equipment ones (especially AC Delco or Motorcraft). Optima batteries are the most durable, but at nearly $200.00 a pop, in this economy, come on, the kids need milk and cereal...
In a pinch, I've bought Meijer ones and had relatively decent luck, but save the receipt. Do expect any battery to last more than four years. After that, they're on borrowed time. This is for entertainment purposes only and I have no control over your all workmanship, or lack thereof. I can't take responsibility for your actions and would call competent personnel when in doubt. God Bless .

1 comment:

Walter Grace said...

You can fix those battery trays on the Buick Rendezvous without spending a small fortune at the dealer. I now own one of these lovely cars and had this issue on mine. Look in the archives.