How not to jump start a car

2011-11-09 10:26

When jump starting a car it's important to remember one thing - match the positive cable with the positive battery outlet and vice-versa for the negative.

If you match them incorrectly the consequences can be quite dire, as two US motorists found out.

The incident occurred in South Carolina as Jeep owner Andrew Jernigan connected jumper cables to his friend Delaney Mills' Volkswagen Golf.

Mills had stalled in the street and Jernigan hooked up the cables incorrectly as they attempted to jump-start the Golf's battery.

The damage from the mishap resulted in both vehicles being written off.

Marc Coty, a friend of the hapless pair, commented that the damage was so severe they were unable to remove the cables and were left to watch as both vehicles were engulfed in flames.


Coty explained: "While attaching the jump cables to the batteries of the cars, they accidentally crossed the wires, attaching the positive cable to the negative terminal on the battery and vice versa.

"After Andrew started his car up, the rubber melted off of the jump cables, making it impossible to remove them from the batteries of the cars. The battery of Andrew's Jeep began to smoke," he said.

Coty added: "While calling 911 to report the case to the fire department, the battery caught flame. The fire began to spread very quickly across the entire engine of Andrew's car."

Coty said they were wary of causing an electrical fire and so did not risk pouring water onto the two vehicles.

"Within the 15 minutes that it took the firefighters to get to the scene, the flames had engulfed about three-quarters of Andrew's car and the flames reached probably 10 feet (3m) in height," he added.

  • Chrono - 2011-11-09 11:24

    I would like to share with fellow motorists what I read in a Car mag earlier this year. If your car has a catalytic converter and it does not want to start, you are advised NOT to push start it. If you need to you should try push starting it only once. The reason is that unburnt petrol will get on to it, which might happen from persistent push starting where firing does not occur. Push starting due to a flat battery only (i.e starter won't turn) should be fine as the engine should fire as soon as it would when started normally.

      Chrono - 2011-11-09 15:25

      What I omitted from my original post is that petrol on the converter will damage it, which will lead to a shortened life span.

  • Jacques - 2011-11-09 12:32


  • nbasson - 2011-11-09 14:36

    So how about adding the correct procedure for jump starting to the article? Here goes anyway + Terminal Dead Bat, + Terminal Good Bat, - Terminal Good Bat, - Non-painted surface in engine bay of car with dead bat. Disconnect in same order

  • ben.bezuidenhout3 - 2011-11-09 14:39

    Dumb Americans!

      Joe-Moer - 2011-11-09 14:45

      Judgmental Afrikaaner.

      Chrono - 2011-11-09 15:01

      Ja Ben, how did they manage to get to the moon?

      Trevor - 2011-11-09 20:43


  • GWsykwatcher - 2011-11-09 15:08

    A pair of "bright sparks"!

  • Mahomed - 2011-11-09 16:20

    i did this once mistakenly. it started sparking. luckily i pulled it out on time

  • Kwashic - 2011-11-09 18:38

    ha ha @ Mahomed... pulled out on time! yeah i also removed the wires immediately when i saw smoke. Luckily my jumper cables were of the higher quality with good insulation so i was able to safely hold there without getting burns.

  • Trevor - 2011-11-09 20:45

    HEHE...I find it funny that the German sedan totally f$%$dup the American Jeep...LMA)...AND the German Sedan looks like it can be ridden away...

      dean.m.w.za - 2011-11-10 07:30

      yes plastic does melt rather easier than metal

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