Did my clumsy use of clamps and electricity damage her delicate system? (Not sexy, car-based)

Let me explain.

Due to a unexpected snow removal day, I had to rush out of my lot this morning, despite the fact I usually walk to work. Of course, my car wouldn’t start. A friendly neighbor with an impressive mane of curly black hair did me the favor of giving me a jump start

As I’m wont to do around attractive women, of course, I screwed it up. First, I hooked it up backwards, then once I fixed that, I let the clamps touch each other. AND I didn’t have her shut the engine off first.

Yes, I know. Red to red, THEN black to frame. The worst part is I KNEW that, I’ve given dozens of jumps, I used to work the overnight shift at a c-store.

Hey, I was excited! Things happen! And I’d never received one before!

Anyway, while unhooking the clamps, I noticed a little 3d flower of blueish white, snowlike substance around one of the terminals. Snowy crystals or foam, maybe. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there when we started. It wasn’t until after we’d parted I realized this might be a Bad Thing. In my inadequate defense, we were both in a rush, but I still should have realized it at the time. Ah, well.

So, what happened? It was cold, if it matters, noticeably below freezing, but not nightmarishly so.

Do I owe the young lady a new battery? Is she going to be stranded at work and freeze to death? It likely to explode, as part of her upcoming super-heroine origin story?


This is why I am no longer allowed to use electricity around women . . .

Crystals don’t form that fast, so it had to be there already. You were too enamored to see it.

As long as neither vehicle ended up with a “check engine” light after the start, all is well. A momentary touching of those cables did no harm. Even in a worst case scenario, what would happen is the battery would explode. Hooking the cables up backward could cause electrical damage, but as I say if no lights are on, you should be OK. Go on about your business and admit nothing to anybody.

Next time just slash her tires. Or take her out for coffee. You know, one of the two.

If she went on her way, then she’s probably okay.
I hooked ours up backwards once. It was just me and I hooked them up and got sparks when I clamped the last one to the frame. I got in the dead car and tried to start it up. It didn’t start and I hopped out and had to pry off the cables with the cable insulation melting all over the place.

I ended up having to replace a resistor (rectifier?) inside the alternator of the dead car. The cost was low for the part (<$20) and I found it interesting to take it apart. Luckily we had a spare car around to be able to do so. It would have cost over $200 for a new alternator plus labour to take it in to a garage.

cantara you are correct with the rectifier part but there are 4 of them made from diodes arranged in a way that converts the A.C. output of the alternator to D.C. (alternating and direct current) there is probably a wiki on the setup.