Winter mornings can play havoc with vehicle batteries, often leaving them weakened or even dead because they have to work harder. Fortunately, it takes little to bring them back to life: simply borrow some jumper cables and you’re on your way – right? Not so fast. Following the incorrect procedure can result in lasting damage to the car.
That’s why it’s important to read the owner’s manual first, checking for specific instructions and making sure you can identify the jump-start terminals. This can be particularly tricky in newer cars where the battery is often inaccessible. Next, check the voltage of the battery in the car being used to jump-start your own vehicle – there may be serious damage if they are not evenly matched. If you’re comfortable that you can proceed, park both cars next to each other (in neutral, with handbrakes up) – without touching – then turn off the car with the ‘good’ battery. Unplug any accessories, as the power surge may affect them. Now, turn off all lights, and the radio, before starting the procedure. It’s also a good idea to put on rubber gloves and safety goggles. Make sure that you don’t lean over the battery of either car while you are doing this, and avoid jumpstarting a battery if fluids are frozen or if it is cracked or leaking, as this could lead to an explosion.