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Thread: Inept Jump Start (possible damage?)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Charlie's Avatar
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    Inept Jump Start (possible damage?)

    Hi guys! A guy at work was not able to start his car. He had jumper cables and asked if I could provide the booster car.

    I've never jump started a car, but I DID know enough to know that there is a certain order in which you have to connect the cables. I asked him if he did and he replied with 'black to black, red to red'. This was the 1st danger sign I suppose..sigh.

    He proceeded to connect the cables and produced numerous sparks. When it was all connected, he attempted to start his car. Did not work. So he started fidgeting around with the cables producing even more sparks. I let him do this for a bit until I got tired of seeing the light show and said no more, that was it.

    I know the electronics side of the car is very important and did not want to run the risk of him somehow damaging the ECU or something.

    I drove home and turned off the car. Waited a few minutes and turned the car on again successfully just to make sure nothing was wrong.

    Was there any damage done by this inept jump start? What could have happened if I let the light show go on??

    Post Script: I looked up the exact procedure on how to connect the cables and know it like the back of my hand now. Needless to say, I now know he was doing it completely wrong.

    -Charlie-



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    Moderator inuvik's Avatar
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    You're probably ok, he's lucky his battery didn't explode. The key is to make sure you do the connections yourself. I always do negative to negative first and make sure the positive connectors are not touching ANYTHING. I then attach the positive to the dead vehicle and the final step connecting to my vehicle. This way I know the circuit is set up correctly and connecting to my vehicle is the last step. Disconnect in the reverse order. Positive off your vehicle first, positive off jumped vehicle second, negative off my vehicle third and lastly disconnecting the negative from the jumped vehicle. Your car is more important than the other persons because it's yours!

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 automatic: 40.4 mpg (US) ... 17.2 km/L ... 5.8 L/100 km ... 48.5 mpg (Imp)


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    Senior Member Cobrajet's Avatar
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    I NEVER let anyone else hook up the cables for a jump start.

    Basically, I think you hook up the negative (ground) side first on both vehicles, then the hot side on the car to be jumped, then the hot side on the running car.

    At least, that is the way I always do it.

  5. #4
    Moderator Eggman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by inuvik View Post
    I always do negative to negative first
    Don't do this. I used to do this myself.

    Sparks are to be avoided when connecting & disconnecting the cables, especially near the battery. Any lead-acid battery, the type most commonly used in cars for ages, is a source of explosive hydrogen.


    Basically, the idea is to connect one car's electrical system in parallel to the other. The practice I found involves connecting the positive battery terminals first - battery to battery. Next, connect one car's chassis to the other. This will complete the circuit and, if all is in order, electrical current will begin to flow through it. Any sparks made during the final connection will thus be away from the battery.

    When disconnecting, remove the chassis connections first. The circuit will be broken and any sparks formed should be away from the batteries as much as possible. Then remove the rest of the connections.


    Here's a few things to think about:

    1. The Mirage battery is not maintenance-free, meaning it is not sealed. It has the old-timey caps on it that allow periodic checking of the electrolyte levels. Bonus trivia: does anyone here know how to do this?

    2. Sparks can damage electronic equipment, and you are smart to avoid that. Today's cars have more electronics than ever. Manufacturers should design to accommodate some electrical spikes, but don't rely on it. For what was described as a light show makes me wonder if the impaired car had electrical problems.

    3. Using the vehicle chassis as a negative connection has been a common practice in the automotive industry for a long time, but some cars use chassis positive. Check this before connecting! On any car, verify which terminal is attached to the chassis.

    4. Using the vehicle chassis as a negative connection is only as good as the grounding wiring and the battery. If there are loose, corroded, or otherwise poor connections, the jump start will likely fail. Also, paint is an insulator. It can be difficult to find a chassis ground connection that will conduct electricity.

    5. Personally, I think it is best if both drivers make their own connections, for several reasons.
    a. Four hands help keep the cable clamps from touching each other. No arc welding, please.
    b. Each driver is responsible for their own vehicle. If one is not comfortable with the process, simply pull the clamps from their car.
    c. Witness the process by watching and listening. When the good car is loaded, the engine usually slows down a bit (Yes, I jump start with the vehicle running) and that is to be expected. Again, any unusual noises, and either driver can pull the plug on the experiment.

    6. Learn this before having to do it in inclement weather.




    Let me know if there is anything I missed.

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        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 49.6 mpg (US) ... 21.1 km/L ... 4.7 L/100 km ... 59.5 mpg (Imp)


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    Moderator Eggman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie View Post
    Post Script: I looked up the exact procedure on how to connect the cables and know it like the back of my hand now. Needless to say, I now know he was doing it completely wrong.

    -Charlie-
    What did you find?

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage ES 1.2 manual: 49.6 mpg (US) ... 21.1 km/L ... 4.7 L/100 km ... 59.5 mpg (Imp)


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    Lots of sparks = reverse polarity= dead short circuit= fried electrical system.

    I pray that you did not have your engine running, or even worse, engine running and revved up.

    No check engine light? You got very lucky.

    I have seen cars damaged, even totalled, by jump starting, without knowing the consequences.

    I don't care how or who does the connections. With BOTH ignition switches in the OFF position the last connection should produce no spark, or at the very worst a very small (read tiny) spark.

    Lots of sparks, REVERSED POLARITY, VERY DANGEROUS.

    You fry your alternator, your car keeps running until your battery dies. Could also kill your ECU and everything else running 400 amps through the ground wires backwards, frying the weakest link. Injectors fill the engine with liquid fuel even with the ignition off, liquid locking the engine, then the idiot pushed the car trying to start it, bent 3 connecting rods requiring the engine to be torn down and repaired. The dumb a$$ father of the dumb as$$ driver, a full bird Colonel in uniform tried to accuse me of doing the damage. I got my employee to call the cops to keep me from ripping the father's arms off and beating hem to death with them.

    regards
    mech

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage de 1.2 manual: 55.7 mpg (US) ... 23.7 km/L ... 4.2 L/100 km ... 66.9 mpg (Imp)


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  9. #7
    Senior Member Charlie's Avatar
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    @ Eggman - Found out exactly what you described. Connect + on dead car first, then + on good car. Negative on good car, then negative chassis.

    @ old mechanic - Yes, LOTS of sparks!! While the guy was doing it, I was voicing my concern and he just waved me off with a 'it's ok, nothing to worry about' gesture. I'm so glad I put an end to it. It was obvious he did not know what he was doing..I'm just so worried that some permanent damage was done b/c I was trying to help someone else out :-(

    Yea, no check engine light, able to start car up OK. You think everything's really OK? I'm assuming w/ electrical problems, you'd automatically know something's wrong and wouldn't start out un-noticeable and gradually get worse?

    -Charlie-

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    Senior Member Charlie's Avatar
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    By the way, has anyone ever hooked up jumper cable clamps to the Mirage before? As we all can see by looking under the hood, the + terminal cable has quite a large physical apparatus on it which made it really hard/impossible for the guy to connect his clamp to my + terminal so he would up connecting the clamp more so to that cable apparatus (fuses on there?).

    How are you supposed to clamp on to the + terminal with that physical obstruction? Thinking of buying my own battery tester but the one I have my eye on uses clamps..

    Quick update: Just started up the car and did all electronic tests I could do myself. Used power windows on front/back passenger/driver sides, turned on radio, turned on headlights (lo+hi beam), turned on/off domelight, turned on a/c - defroster. Everything activated ok, so hopefully this means nothing permanently bad happened.

    -Charlie-

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    IF you did not have your ignition on and or your engine running and you have no warning lights staying on, you are FINE.

    IF you want to jump a car.

    Your key out of the ignition switch.
    Just your battery.
    Hook up 3 of the leads, assuming you know nothing about polarity, the last lead just barely touch it to the battery post.

    !. Heavy spark WROOOOOOOOONNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    2. No, or very light spark, you're good.

    If YOU ain't sure it's right try it wrong, it's impossible to not see the difference, but never connect the last cable until you have confirmed spark condition, by the barest of connections for the least possible time.

    Personally, if you arern't knowledgeable and very careful it can cost your DEARLY TO BE WRONG.

    REGARDS
    MECH

        __________________________________________

        click to view fuel log View my fuel log 2015 Mirage de 1.2 manual: 55.7 mpg (US) ... 23.7 km/L ... 4.2 L/100 km ... 66.9 mpg (Imp)


  12. #10
    Senior Member Charlie's Avatar
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    @old mechanic - uh oh, yea, my engine WAS on!

    I did just get back from Autozone. Tested my battery and alternator and they both tested OK.

    Still no warning lights though. Hopefully I escaped from this harrowing experience!

    -Charlie-



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