The correct way to jump-start your car: Don’t do it your way!

Avoid getting stranded by following these essential steps.

Getting stuck with a dead car battery can be a frustrating experience, even with modern vehicles. As temperatures drop, many drivers are discovering that their cars don’t start as easily as before. To prevent being stranded, Dewald Ranft, chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), emphasises the importance of knowing the correct way to jump-start your vehicle.

While the jump-starting procedure is generally the same for all vehicles, improper boosting can cause severe damage to the electrical system and computer. Therefore, it is crucial to consult your car’s owner’s manual for specific instructions and locate the jump-start terminals in your vehicle before proceeding.

Once you have gathered this information, here’s what you need to do:

Position the dead vehicle as close as possible to another vehicle with a booster battery. Both cars should be turned off, with the handbrakes engaged and the gear selector in neutral or park position.

Before connecting the cables, ensure that all headlights, indicators, car radios, air conditioners, radar detectors, and cellphones are turned off or unplugged. Remove all accessories from the power sockets and take out the keys from the dead car’s ignition until the jumper cables are connected. Failure to follow these precautions can result in equipment damage due to the high voltage transient when the batteries are connected.

Familiarise yourself with the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals of both car batteries to identify the correct connections. Clean off any corrosion around the dead battery terminals and, if possible, loosen the wires, clean them, and retighten them securely to the posts.

Connect the car battery jumper cables in the following order:

  • Attach one positive end of the cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
  • Connect the other positive end of the cable to the positive terminal of the booster battery.
  • Connect one negative end of the cable to the negative terminal of the booster battery.
  • Attach the other negative end of the cable to a grounded piece on the dead vehicle, such as a shiny nut or bolt on the engine or frame. Only connect to the negative terminal of the dead battery as a last resort to avoid potential sparks and explosions.
  • Once the batteries are connected, let them run for a minute or two before attempting to start the dead vehicle.
  • Start the dead vehicle and let the engine run for three to five minutes to allow the flat battery to regain voltage. This will enable the battery to function independently once the jumper cables are removed.
  • Before removing the cables, switch on one or two electrical components, such as lights or air conditioning, to prevent high voltage spikes in the electrical system.
  • Remove the cables in reverse order and ensure that all electrical components switched on during the process are turned off. Drive the vehicle for a few kilometres to aid in recharging the battery.

After jump-starting your car, it is advisable to have the electrical system checked by a registered MIWA service technician. They can inspect for any damage, clean battery terminals, replace the battery if necessary, or examine the charging system.

Don’t risk damaging your vehicle by improperly jumpstarting it. Follow these steps precisely to ensure a safe and effective jumpstart, avoiding unnecessary inconveniences and costly repairs.

Source: Cathy Findley PR


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