Considering the frequency with which vehicles are used daily, how little we know about resolving common problems is impressive. One of the most typical would be encountering a dead battery and finding out how to Jump start a car.
This is a prevalent issue with several potential causes that are often simple to resolve. However, suppose you find yourself in this situation. In that case, it is vital to understand how to recharge the battery and bring it back to life by jump-starting the vehicle.
This article will break down the common causes of battery failure and describe the five steps in successfully jump-starting a vehicle.
The complex mechanical and electrical components required to operate a car fundamentally rely on one key component, a battery.
This will be surprising to many. The intricately developed and technical mechanical components can only function with the power of a rudimentary 12-volt battery.
Fundamentally a car requires an initial ignition source to boost the internal combustion processes. This is the important job of the onboard 12V battery.
Turning the key in the ignition will complete an internal electrical circuit which will cause a spark in the internal combustion chambers of a gasoline engine.
This will initiate the combustion process by pushing fuel through the system, which will gain momentum as sparks are continually generated.
A car battery will perform a similar ignition function in diesel engines. The beauty of these engines is that they are self-perpetuating once they have started.
They do not require a battery spark to light the fuel; it relies purely on pressure from the pistons. The battery will initially power the car, creating pressure to combust the fuel allowing the engine to start.
Although it is typically tucked away and forgotten about, it is, in many ways, the heart of a vehicle. Without it, we would still be hand-cranking the engines to get them to jolt to life like they did 100 years ago.
Where Does a Battery Get its Power?
Most may now wonder why they do not have to change their car batteries regularly. Yet, it is used daily. The reason is that ingenious engineering has been installed to allow the battery to recharge naturally as part of the driving mechanism.
Once the car battery has used a jolt of power to engage the engine, some of the power generated from the combustion process is put towards continually recharging the onboard battery.
The car battery is a rechargeable battery that is powered by the process of internal combustion.
This process is completed through the use of an alternator. These are small components on the engine block that generate electrical energy when they are spun.
In addition, they typically utilize a rubber belt connected to the engine crank, which continually spins it while the engine is running.
It is remarkable how well-integrated this system is. This engine model has been around for over 100 years due to its innovative design. Which works flawlessly in our modern world.
Common Reasons for Battery Death
With such a modern system, it should be noted that they are still prone to malfunctions. Also, as with most things, they will break down over time due to general use and wear and tear.
This is the case for batteries too. They are relatively simple components that utilize chemical energy to store and discharge energy over time. However, batteries will become increasingly efficient throughout their lifecycle, and their capacity to operate degenerates.
The typical life cycle of a battery is around five years. Therefore, they are some of the fastest persisting components of a vehicle and will regularly be replaced over a vehicle lifecycle. However, some other reasons can cause them to die unexpectedly.
Over time, if vehicles are not used, then the battery charge will naturally deplete over time. So, although that battery is still functioning, it may have required a full recharge over time.
Alternators and their belts are also a common point of failure, particularly in older vehicles. Unfortunately, some cars do not have integrated engine warning systems which can see these components to fail without drivers realizing it.
It will allow an engine to drive continually without recharging the battery, guaranteeing that the vehicle will not be restarted once it stops.
Finally, batteries do not like cold weather. Colder temperature compromises the internal chemical reactions of the storm. It makes it more difficult for it to release its energy when required. This is why people often have difficulty starting their cars on frosty mornings.
Recharging the Battery
Typically, once a battery dies in a vehicle, it will be immediately apparent to the owner. However, none of the lights and onboard displays will power up. Additionally, it may partially start the engine but fail to produce enough voltage to fully engage the engine’s mechanical systems.
Therefore, the typical approach would be to recharge the battery. Due to the commonality of this problem, it is traditionally recharged with a pair of jump leads and the use of another nearby vehicle.
Essentially, the process attaches thick wires from the working vehicle’s battery when it is on to produce a current that is passed through to the malfunctioning one. It is a simple yet effective means of recharging the faulty battery so the car can burst into life again.
However, this method depends on the appropriate leads being to hand and another fully functioning vehicle ready to help out. Unfortunately, batteries often die at the worst possible moments, leaving drivers in a dangerous situation.
Jump Starting Your Car
If you find that your battery has died and you are not near a garage, it is essential to understand the steps involved in jump-starting a car.
It is a reasonably straightforward process, but all steps should be followed closely to guarantee safety at all times.
Locate your jump leads and have them ready. Now it is essential to have another working vehicle to help you. Generally speaking, any vehicle can help as they have to have a working engine and alternator for this to work. It can be a stranger you flag down or a friend you have had to call in a favor. Anyone will do.
Once you have the leads and the cars, line up both vehicles so both engines/batteries can be reached by either end of the leads. You should confirm that both hand breaks are on and both cars have been turned off.
At this point, you should have located both batteries and noticed they both have a negative and positive terminal. Use the red jump lead to attach the positive terminal of the dead and operating battery together.
Be very careful not to touch the negative terminal points during the process, as you may receive an electric shock.
Attach the black cable to the functioning battery’s negative and the dead vehicle’s earthing point. This is effectively any bare metal areas of the engine bay.
Often there will be a particular earthing location, but attaching it to a nonpainted area of the metal structure will do the job. Just be sure not to attach it anywhere near the fuel lines.
Wait for one minute, then turn on the functioning vehicle. At this point, the vehicle will be charging its own battery and sending a current to your dead battery. Allow the vehicle to run for three minutes, then try to turn on the dead vehicle.
If it fails to turn over, then wait a further 3 minutes. It may help to raise the rpm of the running car (2-3000rpm) so that the alternator spins faster and therefore increases its voltage output.
However, this should have provided enough charge that you could not allow both engines to run for 5 minutes while connected.
Now stop both engines and remove the jump leads in the opposite order you attached them. Once completed, start the dead vehicle and confirm that it is now working as expected.
This is the complete recharging process. Should there still be issues, then there may be a more serious problem with the vehicle. In this case, you should contact your local garage and possibly have it towed by the helping vehicle.
Reviewing this article will equip you with the necessary understanding of car batteries and how to jump-start them when they die effectively. This is an essential skill for any vehicle owner due to the number of potential causes of a dead battery.
It happens more frequently than you may expect. So, remember to follow the steps precisely for the safest and most effective method of ensuring you get it started on the first attempt.
So, next time your car breaks down, you will feel at ease as you know exactly how to get on your way.