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
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
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.