A dead car battery is bad news but an electric shock or a useless battery are even worse news. Follow these steps to make sure you connect booster cables the right way as you recharge your car battery. Proper care and the right information can help you avoid dangerous situations and easily jump start your vehicle.
The first step is to make sure both vehicles are turned off. Working under the hood of a vehicle that’s running can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re looking for, so play it safe and turn off the car that you’re going to use to jump the other one.
After finding both car batteries’ positive and negative terminals, start by attaching one of the positive, or red, jumper cable clamps to the positive terminal of the battery you wish to charge. Attach the other positive cable to the live battery. Next, attach the negative cable to the negative terminal of the live battery. Finally, attach the last negative cable to an unpainted metal piece on the dead car. Never attach the cable to the negative terminal of the dead car battery, as this increases the risk of sparks, fire and other hazards.
What Happens If You Put Jumper Cables on in the Wrong Order?
All those positive and negative terminals and steps can be confusing to follow. It may seem like a small mistake to connect the wrong cable to the wrong terminal of car or motorcycle batteries. Unfortunately, it can result in serious issues. Incorrect jumper cable connections can cause one or more of these issues:
- Fire or exploding battery
- Electrical shock
- Reversed polarity
Reversing the polarity of the electrical system can permanently damage the dead battery and any electronic systems in the vehicle. Never attempt to connect cables without carefully reviewing the correct order.
Can You Hook Up Jumper Cables to a Starter?
Your jumper cables are useful in an emergency, but they can also be a helpful tool as you work on your vehicle. Find out how these handy cables can offer an alternative test for your starter.
The best way to determine whether your starter is working correctly is to use a multimeter and turn on your vehicle. This can help you determine whether the issue is the starter itself or an electrical issue. Start by turning off the ignition and parking your vehicle in a safe workplace.
Connect one positive jumper cable to the positive terminal of the battery, ensuring that the other cable doesn’t come in contact with any metal or yourself. Your car battery should be charged and have both the positive and negative terminals connected, so don’t attempt to touch the positive terminal as you connect the jumper cable. Carefully touch the other cable the the positive terminal of the starter motor. If the motor is working properly, this will activate the starter and crank the engine.
Use these steps to get the most out of your jumper cables. Learn how to tell if your car battery is dead and other helpful tips for safe, efficient battery maintenance.