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How to jump-start your car’s heartbeat

Published:Sunday | September 8, 2019 | 12:16 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Automotives Writer

Paul Coke, a car enthusiast, describes a battery as the life or heart of a car.“If the battery is dead nothing will work,” Coke says.

It’s 5 a.m., you have a long day ahead and your desire is to ‘beat’ the traffic for work. However, you turn the ignition and nothing happens except a faint ‘click’ or a ‘strain sound’, or no sound at all; “This is beginning of worry,” says Keith Austin, a St Andrew-based auto electrician.

According to Austin, if you turn on the ignition and the starter does not make a sound, you probably have a ‘dying’ or dead battery.

It is best not to keep pressuring the battery in trying to get the vehicle started.

Once the areas of the electrical system are in good working order, a new battery will eventually be needed.

The auto electrician explained that there are steps to jump-starting one’s motor vehicle to get going to your destination or to get to the nearest battery shop or gas station.

The first thing which ought to be done by the motorist, is to inspect the dead battery for cracks and excessive corrosion on the cables and terminal ends. Cables and terminal ends should be thoroughly cleaned before proceeding with the following steps. Also, importantly, there must be a jumper cable at hand.

JUMP STEP 1: This step requires that you position the car with the good battery so that the jumper cables can easily reach the ‘dead’ battery of the other car.

JUMP STEP 2: Turn off both engines and all accessories. Place the gear shift levers in ‘PARK’ or ‘NEUTRAL’ then apply the parking brakes.

JUMP STEP 3: If either battery has caps, remove the caps to release any accumulated hydrogen. Then lay a piece of cloth over the open vents of each battery in case the battery wants to explode and gives off a spray of acid.

JUMP STEP 4: Take the positive cable, (that is the cable marked RED or marked with a PLUS +), and clamp it to the POSITIVE terminal of the dead battery.

JUMP STEP 5: Take the NEGATIVE cable, (the one that is BLACK or marked with a MINUS sign -), and clamp one end of the negative terminal of the good battery. Clamp the other end to a ground (this is the object that makes electrical connection with the ground) on the ‘DEAD’ car’s engine block and away from the battery.

“The ground prevents a spark at the battery terminal that might set off an explosion,” Austin advises.

JUMP STEP 6: Remember to start the car with the good battery first, and then turn the ignition switch on the other car.

JUMP STEP 7: When the car with the dead battery has started, disconnect the negative terminals first, then the positive ones.

JUMP STEP 8: Replace the vent caps and get rid of the heavy cloth as it may have acid on it. It is now time to get the motor vehicle in motion and the driver should ensure that he is in full control of his machine.

Robert Benoist, a great French Grand Prix driver of the 1920s and 1930s, once said, “The stability of a car depends on the personal stability of the driver.” Though Benoist referred to emotional as well as physical balance, his implication is that if the driver is not under control, the vehicle most likely will not be either.