Whoops! What Happens When You Jump Start Your Car the Wrong Way? (and how to never make this mistake)
What’s worse than having a dead battery? Damaging your vehicle by not jump-starting it the right way. If you attach the leads to the wrong terminals, you’re likely to fry the car’s electronics, computers, and the wiring itself. And you can also explode the battery or possibly cause a car fire.
Not a good thing.
Luckily, there’s a brand of jumper cables that will protect you from yourself, so you’ll never need to worry about your car turning into a ball of flames and becoming a viral sensation on YouTube.
Mychanic Smart Jumper Cables ($25) include the brilliant feature of reverse-polarity protection. The indicator warns you if the connection is incorrect with both a flashing red light and a beep-and not with sparks or fire! The voltage meter lets you know the level of your battery’s charge, so you can diagnose before jump-starting whether or not the battery is the cause of your engine failing to start. (https://mychanic.com/products/smart-cables)
For your reference, here’s a review of the correct, safe way to jump-start a car:
First, grab your owner’s manual for a quick check. Some vehicles require extra steps for a successful jump.
To properly jump-start your car, you need to create a circuit that carries current from the live battery over to the dead one. Once one end of each jumper cable is connected to its correct battery terminal, do not touch the metal clamps on the other ends to anything except the appropriate targets. The cables should be connected in this exact order:
1. Connect one end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the red (+) positive post of the dead car battery.
2. Connect the other end of the red (positive) jumper cable to the red (+) positive post of the fully charged car battery.
3. Connect one end of the black (negative) jumper cable to the black (-) negative post of the fully charged car battery.
4. Connect the other end of the black (negative) jumper cable to a metal part of the dead car that is unpainted, as far from the battery as the cable will reach. This will ground the circuit and help prevent sparking. Connecting it to the dead battery carries a risk of the battery exploding.
5. Verify that none of the cables is touching any engine parts that will move when the engine is started.
Now it’s time to start the engine of the working vehicle. It may take a few minutes for the jump to work. Try starting the dead car. If it doesn’t, continue charging the battery for a minute or two before trying again. In some cases, slightly revving the engine of the working car may help.
Once the dead car is running, disconnect the jumper cables, starting with the black, negative cable clamps.
Do not let the clamps touch each other while any part of either cable is still attached to a car.