Battery jump-start

Car batteries are important not only for keeping the lights on and your stereo system pumping, but also simply for starting up the vehicle. A dead or unresponsive car battery is cause for concern, which is why roadside assistance providers perform battery jump-starts as some of their bread and butter services.

Why do car batteries fail?

Most new cars don’t really tend to have battery problems like older cars do, although faulty batteries are always a possibility. In most cases, cars that are a few years old can have their batteries fail for a number of reasons, such as:

  • If the car is seldom used, e.g. less than once a week (grandma’s Sunday church car), the battery can die from underuse.
  • The lights are left on unintentionally. Many drivers forget to turn off the interior lights or headlights only to find that the battery has completely drained come the next morning.
  • Cold weather can kill a battery alone when the car is left outside in freezing temperatures. This is quite common in Alaska and northern Canada.
  • The battery could also simply have run its course. Batteries recharge over and over again, but eventually wear and tear gets to them and they’ll die out completely.

What is involved in a battery jump-start?

First and foremost, a battery jump-start (sometimes called a ‘boost’) is a catch-all term for starting up a car with a dead battery. There are so many different types of car, truck, and SUV with various battery configurations that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. In most cases, however, a typical battery jump-start follows a particular procedure that must be followed with caution as there are real hazards involved.

The owner of the disabled vehicle should call a roadside assistance provider to request a jump-start. Once they’ve arrived, the mechanic will need to know where the battery is located. In most cases, the jumper terminal is located in the engine compartment under the hood, but in others it may be under the seat.

The mechanic then requires jumper cables (also called ‘booster cables’ or ‘jump leads’) with a positive and negative polarity denoted by their colors, red and black, respectively. The red (+) cable is attached to the dead battery with alligator clamps and then to the mechanic’s good battery. The mechanic then attaches the black (-) cable to his good battery and the loose end usually goes on bare metal some distance away from the battery.

It is important to note that while many cars use 12V batteries, both the mechanic’s jump start battery and your battery must be similar in voltage. Older cars often had a 6V battery, which simply won’t work with a newer 12V battery. Big rigs and large vehicles may have oversized 24V batteries - same story. Hybrid vehicles may also need to be jump started in a different way since their batteries may not be able to handle the current from a normal 12V battery.

Battery jump-start

Insurance coverage for battery jump-starts

Most state roadside assistance policies for automotive insurance cover the cost of battery jump starts, and independent insurance companies often provide this as well under their comprehensive packages. This means that you shouldn’t have to pay anything out of pocket. Always check with your insurance provider if in doubt.

Safety tips for battery jump-starts

If you are waiting for a battery jump-start, consider the following safety tips:

  • Do not try to randomly attach jumper cables to your battery yourself if you have no idea what you’re doing.
  • Wait for the roadside assistance provider to arrive and allow them to operate unimpeded. Keep some distance from the cables and the clamps.
  • The cables and clamps, even if well-manufactured, can melt from exposure to the current. Sparks and explosions are possible around hydrogen. There are many hazards involved, so don’t interfere and allow the mechanic to operate.
  • The driver of the disabled vehicle can then safely start their vehicle, provided that everything was done properly by the mechanic and there are no other underlying problems. If the car still cannot start, it is a good sign that the battery is either completely dead or frozen and thus no amount of jump starting will get it back on the road on its own.

Can I jump start my car battery myself?

A qualified roadside assistance provider is important for this task because there is quite a bit of hazard involved. Connecting cables in a willy-nilly fashion can, at best, render both batteries dead, but at worst, serious injury or death could occur. There have been hundreds of deaths in the US since the 1990s from failed battery jump starts, so please don’t risk your life.

Why does my car keep making a clicking noise when starting up?

If the battery makes a constant, annoying clicking noise when attempting to start up, chances are that either the battery is completely dead and thus needs to be replaced, or the alternator is faulty or damaged.

Find a reputable roadside assistance provider with TowGator

Get some juice back into your car battery with reliable roadside assistance from qualified mobile mechanics on TowGator. We operate an online network that connects motorists with reputable, local towing companies and roadside assistance providers. Click on the “GET QUOTES” tab to find quality services near you today.