Auto Safety and Jumping Your Vehicle

Auto Safety: Jumping A Battery and Road Side Assistance

 Your Car’s Battery: Why Is It “Clicking??

Back in the “Day”, jump starting your vehicle was as simple as hooking up cables, between two vehicles. However, as of the mid 90“s, both signs of battery issues and jumping your vehicle has seemingly changed and became more complicated.

It is not uncommon for vehicle owners to assume that the car is not starting, is due to a much larger, than just a dead or weak battery. why would this not be a reasonable assumption; The lights turn on and burn brightly, the radio plays and even the instrument panel lights work properly! Heck, the only thing that is holding the vehicle up, is it only “clicks”, when the key is turned to start the vehicle. Oh, most owners will inform the driver, “We tried to jump the vehicle and it did not work. We even used a larger vehicle and it just clicked!”

Road side assistance drivers, hear this repeatedly, on a daily basis. In fact most vehicle owners, whom requested to be towed, don’t really need to be towed at all. If let to his/her job, the service operator can save the vehicle owner money, if they would just answer a few questions, and allow him/her to attempt to start the vehicle, for themselves.


“Why Won’t the Driver, Listen To Me!”

Well, truth of the matter is, the driver is listening to you. However, there are several other reasons, besides a bad starter which would cause a vehicle to click instead of starting; including a weak, but not dead battery. There are several reasons why the vehicle may not be starting, in the owner’s prior attempts to jump start the car. Even when the vehicle providing the jump is larger. These reasons can range from improper cables, improper hooking of the batteries, or the output range of the providing vehicle.

Typically, emergency jumper cables like those sold in retail outlets are insufficient. They are not constructed of heavy enough materials, to handle repeated attempts to crank the disabled vehicle’s engine. The vehicle owners have to realize, that the batteries on their vehicles are rated to allow repeated attempts to crank the vehicle; which may pull over 600 cranking amperes, for each attempt. This type of drain, requires a higher gauge of wire, to handle the transfer rate required to allow the providing vehicle power to continue to run, and to allow that cranking power to be transferred. The cables need to allow for free exchange of electrical power, between the two vehicles.

Improperly hooking up the vehicle, can hamper attempts to jump start another vehicle; as well as be a safety hazard, which may lead to fire or worse a battery to explode. It may be obvious, but to point out that the red cable should go onto the red battery terminals. The Black Cables, should not be placed on both negative battery terminals. Instead, one of the the black cable leads goes onto the providing vehicle’s negative terminal and then on a grounded piece of metal of the other vehicle. Please note, that the piece of metal on the disabled vehicle should be a thick bolt, or thick piece of metal. Hooking the cables any other way, may be hazardous.

Should the cables be significant in size with large gauge clamps and hooked up properly and the vehicle still does not start, There may be something wrong with the jumping vehicle.. There is also the possibility of the providing vehicle having a charging system issue itself. Another reason that a larger or same sized vehicle may not start a disabled or weak battery, is due to the configuration of the charging system on the vehicles.

With all of the new vehicles and new electronic features, utilizing a vehicle, to jump off another vehicle may cause damage to itself, or both vehicles. Some vehicles have low voltage components, in the computer that controls basic ignition and operational functions, on the vehicle. Causing too much heat, through jumping and a free exchange of electricity between the vehicles may cause more heat. The heat build up and voltage surges can cause cables to heat up and melt, fuses and fuse panels to melt and even computer components and sensors to burn out.

The Tow Operators, Are Trained:


Most motor club affiliated operators, are constantly being updated as to the proper way to provide jumps, change tires, to open locked doors and yes, how to tow your vehicle safely and properly. These operators typically have the tools and equipment to provide services, which are basically designed to get you back on the road, or to tow you in the safest possible way.

This is not to guarantee that damage will not occur, it merely says that they are trained to minimize risks of possible damage or injury occurring.

Among the tools and equipment, used by tow operators are heavy gauged cables and cable clamps as well as, a vehicle equipped with components, which will allow for maximum delivery of energy, to supply a disabled vehicle with ample cranking amperage, while lessening the chance of damage to either unit. If an owner of a disabled vehicle does attempt to jump start his/her vehicle, using another vehicle, it is good to tell the operator. By doing so, the operator can look for damage before he/she hooks up, which may cause further damage, from the prior attempts.

Important Things To Know:

 First, trying to save a “buck” (dollar), can end up costing you more than if you just called for a professional to do the job. The tow operator will be happy to explain what he/she is qualified to do, and not do, with your vehicle.

Secondly, understand that most garages will not service your battery or clean it, when you have your periodic maintenance and oil change services done. In fact, most garages and mechanics will over-look, the battery and the charging system status. Most garages and mechanics will tell you how to clean the battery and terminals, they will even tell you how important it is to do this; and then they will not do it for you. (There is not one reason, why they ignore this part of your vehicle service. They just do not do it.)

Lastly, by cleaning your battery you will reduce heat. Heat will destroy your battery and set it up to fail. Dirty terminals and top of battery casing, causes a path for the battery charge, to discharge, as if you left a light on inside the vehicle. So, knowing that it is important to keep the top of your battery and battery clamps clean; you should also be made aware of what needs to be done and how to do it.

Cleaning your battery and it’s terminal connections, is easy and only takes a few minutes. All you need is about ten minutes of time, a pair of safety glasses, an old toothbrush, baking soda and warm water. Wet the battery down, and sprinkle liberally some baking soda on the top of the battery and over the terminal connections. (This will neutralize battery acid and allow for easy rinsing which will remove any power leakage paths) Using the brush, scrub the top of the battery, battery clamps and terminals well. Once the entire battery is a light grey color or white, rinse the battery and cables off with warm water. You are done!!

Oh Yes! Don’t forget to put on and wear the safety glasses, before you start to clean the battery, and do not remove until you are finished rinsing the battery off.

By maintaining your battery, in a clean state you will increase the life of the battery, and will reduce the chances of requiring to have your battery charged up, by jumping it off. It will increase life and wear on the battery, by reducing heat build up which degrades to chemicals and plates inside the casing. Heat can also cause a battery to explode, should the internal temperature become too intense. (Ask a friend or a mechanic to show you a bloated battery.) This heat build up can occur also with a dirty battery being jumped, even by a tow operator’s equipment. In the end, keeping your battery clean, can save you money!

Good Luck and Happy Motoring.

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Comments 3 comments

Clarisse 6 years ago

Make sure you have a fire extinguisher available. Many people do not realize is that fire extinguishers are not only for homes, offices, and other work areas. They should also be installed in cars. One’s car is vulnerable to fire in accidents and with certain mechanical mishaps. Car owners can keep themselves and their vehicles safe from the perils of a fire if they are properly equipped with the right fire extinguisher.

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repoprimo 6 years ago from California Author

I have no problems with your quoting my article, provided you add a link back to the article. This is so that if there any contextual issues, the reader can refer back and resolve the issue. Thank you Repoprimo

Jenna Atamandas 6 years ago

Do you mind if I quote you from your article?

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