Start Me Up (women)

Oh, get your minds out of the gutter, guys!!

I saw an ad today for some sort of battery starter that plugs into your cig lighter so you don’t have to use jumper cables to start your car if you leave the lights on. In the ad, a bunch of dizzy looking women lamented on how hard it is to use jumper cables. My question? Are there people (not just women) who don’t know how to jump start their car in an emergency? This was one of those things my dad didn’t let me leave home without knowing (along with changing a tire).
If you don’t know, here’s the scoop:
You need:
dead batt. car
rescue car

pop both hoods. connect red marked clip to rescue car positive batt connector (the one with the +). Connect black marked clip to the negative batt connector.

do the same with the dead car batt (red on pos, black on neg).
start rescue car. Start dead car.
remove cables- order not important- just one clip at a time and don’t touch them together.
You’re on your way!
I just hate to think of any women (or men) standing around in a parking lot with a set of cables saying “if only I knew how to use these damned things!” Print this out and put it in your glove box.

-This has been a public service announcement for ZADP
(Zette Against Dumb People)

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.

Tsk tsk tsk. Zette, if you connect both negative terminals together, you will get some unneccessary explosions from the batteries.

Order is important, or else you’ll have an electrical short.

Here’s how you really do it (learned all this from auto shop):

  1. Connect one end of the positive (+) jumper cable on the positive (+) terminal of the good battery.

  2. Without touching any metal parts, connect the other end of the positive (+) jumper cable on the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery.

  3. Then connect one end of the negative (-) jumper cable on the negative (-) terminal of the good battery.

  4. Connect the other end of the negative (-) jumper cable on a heavy metal engine part 2-3 feet away from the dead battery.

  5. Start the car with the good battery.

  6. Start the car with the dead battery.

  7. After the dead battery is alive again, remove the cables in the reverse order that you attached them (- jumper on metal part, - jumper on good battery, + jumper on dead battery, + jumper on good battery)

And there you go, easy as that.

Oh yeah, one last thing, don’t rely on the colors of the jumpers for which terminal they go to. Always check the signs on them (either + or -)

This is VERY WRONG… This will, with alarming frequency, cause a giant fireball under the hood of the car. Not always, but often enough that you may want to use the CORRECT method of jumpstarting a car…

You have it right up until: “do th same with the dead batt”

It is at this point that a giant fireball will blow gobs of sulfuric acid on your face and arms. Not guaranteed to happen, mind you , but why take chance. First, the correct way to jump a car:

  1. Make sure all electrical systems on both cars (lights, radios, fans) are off entirely.
  2. Hook up cable to the red terminal on the dead battery.
  3. Hook up same cable to the red terminal on the live battery.
  4. Hook up 2nd cable to the black terminal on the live battery.
  5. Hook up other end of 2nd cable to a piece of metal on the dead car as far from the battery as possible (alternator bracket works well, as will any large chunk of metal in contact with the chassis)
  6. Start “live” car. Let it run for 5-10 minutes, and idle it high (rev the engine)
  7. Start “dead” car. Let both cars run for 5-10 minutes, and idle the “good” car high, but keep the dead car idling low.
  8. Very Important: With both cars running, disconnect the cables from the Chassis connection (ground) first. (i.e. disconnect the cable you hooked to the alternator bracket first). Once teh circuit is broken, you may disconnect in any order, but be careful to avoid touching any of the cables to eachother or to a common piece of metal.
  9. You may now turn of the “live” car, but let the “dead” car run for another 5-10 minutes, on high idle, to put a good charge back on the battery
  10. Have a mechanic look at the battery. Anytime a battery goes 100% dead, it should be examined to make sure it can hold a full charge. Sometimes it’s OK, but letting a “wet-cell” run completely dead can cause damage to the battery such that it will never hold a full charge again.

The most vital steps (and teh ones that people often get wrong) are steps 4 and 7. here is why:

Car batterys run on what is known as a “lead-acid” system. The battery contains a lead metal/lead sulfate electrolyte pair that is immersed in an aqueous solution of sulfuric acid. When the battery has a charge, these three chemicals are kept in proper balance, with the electric current (depending on direction) spending its energy interconverting lead metal and lead sulfate. As the battery gets closer to dead, there are side reactions whereby more of the electrical energy is spent on creating sulfur-oxide gasses as opposed to lead sulfate. If your battery has gone completely dead, you may have built up quite a bit of sulfur-oxide gasses inside and around the battery case, and these can be HIGHLY flammable. When you complete or break a circuit, there is always a small spark, and you do NOT want this spark igniting any of these dangerous gasses. So you always want to hook your last connection to a ground safely away from the battery. Whether you ground to the chassis or the battery itself, there will be a complete circuit such that you may charge the battery just fine, so don’t take any chances by creating sparks near the dead battery. Always make your last connection and your first removal to the chassis and not the battery itself.

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

Well, I certainly won’t argue, but I’ve jumped lots of batteries using my method, it’s the one I’ve seen used by others, and I’ve never seen anyone hurt/batteries explode, etc. Lucky? Maybe…any mechanics out there to back me up on this one?
In any case, I don’t feel like arguing…just wanted to point out that it’s not really a big deal or any reason to buy a $45 contraption to charge your battery through the cig lighter. Apparently it’s more complicated then I thought and I live a very charmed life.

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.

Former auto mechanic here.

Louie and Jayron beat me to the correction, but they are right. They have overstated the probability of explosion (quite unlikely with modern batteries), but it only takes once and it can REALLY mess you up, so take no chances.

As for the cig lighter gimmic, save your money. Any device that could put out enough current to run the starter or put any real charge to the battery in a reasonable ammount of time would instantly blow the cig lighter fuse.


OK, so explain this to me like I’m five years old, because all that was way too much info. Oh, and

<<<<<Tsk tsk tsk. Zette, if you connect both negative terminals together, you will get some unneccessary explosions from the batteries>>>>

I don’t think I said that, but perhaps I did unknowingly?? OK, let me try again…

dead car
rescue car

Connect red part of cable to positive connector of rescue car (+=positive)

and connect the other red part of cables to the positive of the dead car.

Then connect the black cable to the negative (-=neg) of the good bat, then the other black to the negative of the dead car.

Start the good car, start the dead car…

<<<<7) Very Important: With both cars running, disconnect the cables from the Chassis connection (ground) first. (i.e. disconnect the cable you hooked to the alternator bracket first). >>>>

Hmmmm… does this mean the “rescue car” positive cable comes off first? If so, I’ve got it now…

I shall now and forever jump my car in this fashion, and I hope others will do the same. Thanks for the advice!

My main point in all of this is- don’t be afraid to try this at home, kids (unless, of course you do it wrong for 10 years or so like I did).

An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity; A pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.

Being the forgetful person that I am, I always clamped the cables on the good battery at the same time. Then, tap the other pair together and make neat sparks. Attach one end to one terminal of the dead battery. If there are no sparks say, ‘cool’. Attach other end to something else, if nothing explodes, sigh.
Try and start the car. If nothing happens, start reversing a bunch of the things you just did. Sooner or later you will start your car…or be horribly disfigured.

It is this action that can cause the dead battery to explode.

Your last connection should NEVER be to the negative terminal on the dead battery. After you hook up the cable to the negative terminal on the “rescue” car, you hook that same cable to some heavy chunk of metal in the engine compartment AS FAR FROM the battery as possible. I like the alternator bracket, which is a good size and shape to hold onto the cable clip. When you disconnect the cables, it is THIS cable (the one hooked to the hunk of metal on the formerly dead car) that you disconnect first. Now that the circuit is broken there is no need to disconenct the rest of the clips in any particular order * per se *, but to minimize the chance of touching cables and accidentally shorting out one or both of the batteries, the second disconnection should be from the negative pole of the “rescue” car. Hope that clears it up for you…

Jason R Remy

“No amount of legislation can solve America’s problems.”
– Jimmy Carter (1980)

All the guys are right. One problem with Louie’s suggestion. Place the ground on the chassis, not on an engine part. The possible electrical damage on computer controlled engines as a result is much lower.

pmh, I don’t think the cig lighter starter works that way. The current doesn’t run through the system at start up. You plug it in and leave it be for several minutes while the charge is transfered at low Amperage to the battery. The high amp output still occurs out of the barrery into the starter, not via the internal circuit, so the fuses would be fine.

Zette, no no no no no. Never connect both negative (black) cables to the batteries. The black clamp going to the dead car, must be clamped to the frame/chassis of the dead car 2 feet from the battery. It is also connected last and disconnected first.

Short summary:

Both cars off.
All electric things off, lights, radio in both cars
Connect red + to the good car barrery +
Connect red + to the dead car battery +
Connect black - to the good car battery -
Connect black - to a part of the dead car’s frame 2’ from the battery
Start good car, wait 15 minutes
Start bad car, wait 5 minutes
Disconnect black - from the previously dead cars frame
Disconnect black - from good car
Disconnect red + from previously dead car
Disconnect red + from good car
Turn off good car
Wait 15 minutes with previously dead car reving, then drive away :slight_smile:

Omniscient, please re-read my post:

The starter, (even for a small 4-banger, on a good day) requires several hundreds of amps to turn the motor at a reasonable speed. To prevent blowing the fuse, this device would have to supply less than ~20 amps. At this rate, the time it would take to charge the behicle batt to a usable level is too long to be practical (and if you turn the key too soon, you’re really SOL).

FTR, the devices like this that I have seen run from dry cells (ludicrous) or a very small (~50Ah) lead-acid battery, and typically output about 5 amps. Simply NOT ENOUGH ENERGY.


Yet they work.

I’m sticking to my story until you come up with something to refute it.

Omniscient said:

Really? Personal experience? Details please. Empirical evidence always outweighs theory.

I would never trust one to work however. Dry cells (or alkalines) do not have the energy density neccesary (and the capacity they do have drops off sharply below 20 degrees C). I will admit that lead-acids have a chance, but at best I would expect about 5 sec cranking time.

Are you sure your battery was really dead? Lead-acid batteries will regain some capacity over time (~20 mins) once the load is removed.

Didn’t intend to mislead, but I’ve seen them for sale at Autozone and on infomercials, both with money back garuntees. I suspect if there was no way for them to work, they wouldn’t be carried in reputable chains with money back garuntees. They obviously work under normal conditions or they wouldn’t be sold anywhere, but online. Any this product is fairly easy to test out. The temperature arguement is certainly a likely problem, but the fuse problem, if it existed, would always be apparent and fail completely everytime.

OK, guys, I had the feeling that this was a very straightforward thing to do,but according to all the information, I think that I will let my mechanic handle the situation from now on.