MOTORING NEWS - With many of us still working from home and ordering essentials online, being stranded with a flat car battery could be an annoying reality, even if you drive the most modern of cars.
Dewald Ranft, chairman of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (Miwa), an association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says while the jump-starting procedure is relatively standard, boost-starting can cause serious damage to the electrical system and computer if done incorrectly.
"First consult the owner's manual for any specific boost-starting instructions, as well as to identify where the jump-start terminals in your car are located."
Once this has been done, he advises lining up the car as close as possible to the other vehicle that holds the booster battery. Both cars need to be turned off, handbrakes need to be up and the gear selector in Neutral or Park before you connect the cables.
"Ensure all headlights, indicators, car radios and air conditioners are off and radar detectors and cellphones unplugged. Also unplug all accessories from both cars and remove the keys from the flat car's ignition until jumper cables are hooked up. With over 300 volts going through your system when the two batteries are connected, the transients can destroy equipment," he says.
Familiarise yourself with the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals of both car batteries. All batteries are clearly marked, so if you can't find it, it's probably under caked-on corrosion around the terminals. Wipe off any battery acid that may have leaked. However, if the battery is cracked and liquid is leaking out, you should not go any further.
"If you try to jump-start the battery with a crack in it, it could explode. It also doesn't make any sense to jump a cracked battery, as it will die in a few minutes and will need to be replaced."
If all seems well, simply clean off any corrosion around the dead battery terminals and if you have tools, loosen the wires from the terminals, clean them off and then re-tighten the wires to the shiny posts.
Corroded posts prevent the power from getting through the cables and into your battery to revive it. "If you have a file handy, try to file the metal battery posts until they are nice and shiny, ensuring that you do not touch both battery posts at the same time with the metal file, as this may cause a short / spark. If you're in a pinch, use pliers to clamp down and scrape off corrosion too, as the metal is somewhat soft.
"Now you're ready to connect the car battery jumper cables. Usually, the positive battery cable is red or orange, and the negative, or ground cable is black - but always check," Ranft stresses.
The correct order
• First connect one positive end of the jumper cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
• Then connect the other positive end of the jumper cable to the positive terminal of the good battery.
• Next connect one negative end of the jumper cable to the negative terminal of the good battery.
• Now connect the other negative end of the jumper cable to a shiny nut or bolt on the dead vehicle. This will need to be a grounded piece on the engine or on the frame of the vehicle. To avoid an explosion by spark, you should only connect to the negative terminal on the dead battery as a last option.
• When the car batteries are hooked together, let them run for a minute or two before you try to start the dead vehicle.
• Start the vehicle and let the engine run for approximately three to five minutes to allow the flat battery to pick up voltage, which will enable the battery to function on its own once the jumping cables are removed.
• Before removing the cables, switch on one or two of your electrical components like lights or air con to avoid any high voltage spikes to the electrical system
• Once the engine starts, remove the cables in the reverse order that you connected them. Also switch off any electrical components you may have switched on during the process and drive the vehicle for a few kilometres to help recharge the battery.
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