Jump Starting Cars & Trucks
Free Auto & Truck Repair Tips

Jump-Starting Your Car

Many people suffer severe eye injuries every year because they do not take proper precautions while jump-starting their car. A spark caused by hooking up the jumper cables can ignite fumes and cause the battery to explode. Battery acid and flying battery parts can blind you.

Here are few simple precautions to avoid a serious injury:

• Wear protective goggles during all phases of the procedure. Keep a pair attached to your jumper cables.

• Put out cigarettes before opening the hood. Use a flashlight, not a match, to look under the hood at night.

• Be certain the vehicles are not in contact with each other.

• Do not allow the cable clamps to touch each other.

• Attach the positive (+) cable (red) to the positive terminal of the dead battery first. Then attach the other end of the positive cable to the good battery.
Attach the negative (-) cable (black) to the negative terminal of the good battery. Then attach the other end of the negative cable to the engine block away from the negative terminal. Do not attach a cable to the negative terminal of the dead battery.

• Once the engine is started, carefully remove the cables in reverse order, again not allowing the clamps to touch.

• Do not lean over the battery during the jumping process.
What is Cold Cranking Amp (CCA) Rating?

This industry rating measures the cranking power a battery has available to start a car's engine at 0 degrees F. Battery Council International defines it as the number of amperes a lead acid battery at 0 degrees F can deliver for 30 seconds and maintain at least 1.2 volts per cell. Top of Page

What is Cranking Amp (CA) Rating?

Similar to CCA; Cranking amps is a measure of the number of amperes a lead acid battery at 32 degrees F can deliver for 30 seconds and maintain at least 1.2 volts per cell. (CA ratings are more commonly used in climates where temperatures rarely drop to 0F.) Top of Page

What is Reserve Capacity (RC)?
A battery's Reserve Capacity represents the length of time the battery can maintain the vehicle's electrical needs in the event the alternator fails. Battery Council International defines Reserve Capacity as a measure of the time (in minutes) a lead-acid battery can deliver 25 amps at 80 degrees F and maintain terminal voltage of at least 1.75 volts/ cell. Top of Page

How can I determine what is the correct battery for my vehicle?

Consult your vehicle's owner's manual. It will provide the vehicle manufacturer's group size and CCA rating requirements for your car. Or, ask your battery retailer to refer to his battery application materials for recommended fitment. Remember: Never use a battery with a CCA lower than the manufacturer's recommendation. Also, whenever available, a battery with a higher CCA is more capable of providing for the electrical needs of older vehicles, and will not adversely affect the vehicle's electrical system. Top of Page

Why is battery power not always proportional to its size?

A battery's group size is simply a measure of the physical dimensions of the battery. This measure has no relation to the battery's electrical capacity. Regardless of group size (physical dimensions), two batteries are equal in power if the RC and CCA ratings are the same. Top of Page

What effect does extreme cold have on my battery?

Cold temperatures dramatically reduce the effectiveness of chemical reactions within the battery, while increasing the battery's internal resistance. Both of these cause a reduction in cranking power as temperatures drop. Batteries left in a discharged state are also susceptible to freezing, which damages internal components and containers. Cars require an increased amount of cranking power in cold weather, due to the fact that motor oil is thicker and makes engines harder to crank. Top of Page

What effect does extreme heat have on my battery?

Heat is the number one cause of battery failure. Extreme heat causes the water in the battery's electrolyte to evaporate. Further, heat causes a battery's positive plate grids to corrode more rapidly. Both of these conditions are detrimental to the long-term life of a battery. 

How should I maintain my automobile battery?

Modern automotive batteries need little attention. If your battery has removable vents, check the water level and add good drinking-quality water (distilled water is preferred) as necessary to maintain the level just below, but not touching the bottom of the vent wells as shown. This will help extend the life of the battery. (Be careful never to overfill, as this will cause acid to be expelled from the vents during normal battery cycling.) Check both terminals regularly for corrosion and tight connections. (If necessary, clean with baking soda and water.)

What causes a battery to fail?

Heat, vibration and malfunctioning vehicle electrical systems are the largest contributors to battery failures.

How often should I replace my battery?

Battery life will vary from vehicle to vehicle based upon many factors. If you experience unsatisfactory performance from the vehicle's starting system, or an instrument panel indication is that there may be a malfunction, take the vehicle to have the electrical/ starting systems checked. Consider an upgrade to a battery with higher cranking performance if you experience insufficient performance from your vehicle's current battery.

How do I charge a battery?

All batteries contain acid and can cause injury if not regarded as dangerous.
1- Wear proper eye and skin protection.
2- Charge only in an area where ventilation is adequate and the battery is unlikely to be disturbed.
3- Never attempt to charge a frozen battery.
4- Always keep vent caps in place while charging.
5- Never allow anyone to smoke around a charging battery.
6- Unplug charger before connecting the battery. Be sure to observe proper polarity when connecting charger leads to the battery.
7- Refer to the charger manufacturer’s instructions for safe charger operation.

How does a car's charging system work?

A modern automobile's vehicle's charging system consists of 3 major components:

• Alternator - Mechanical device driven by the engine accessory belt. It provides continuous voltage to replenish the battery while the engine is running.

• Voltage Regulator - Monitors the battery's state of charge and adjusts alternator activity as necessary to charge the vehicle's battery and provide power necessary to run accessories.

• Battery - An electrical reservoir used to store electrical energy until it is needed by the vehicle's starting system to crank the engine and power the fuel and ignition systems.
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