Jump-start: Bridge the car battery

Icy temperatures put enormous strain on batteries. Does not start the car, it needs jump start with a jumper cable. But the first aid on the car is not so easy. First, you should read the instructions for the jump start in the manual of the car. This is especially true for vehicles with start-stop system as well as for hybrid cars. Often positive and negative poles are reversed if the markings on the battery are difficult to detect. Then there is a short circuit, at the terminal of the jumper cable sparks. The ADAC warns: In the worst case, the on-board electronics or the battery can be destroyed.

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How to jump-start the car

  • If a car fails to start because of a dead battery, a second car can help. First, find out in the operating instructions of both vehicles about possible special features. Connect the red wire to the positive (+) pole of the full battery (left) and then to the positive pole of the empty battery. Make sure that they are firmly seated and that the contact surfaces are as large as possible.

  • Connect the black cable to the negative (-) pole of the full battery. DO NOT connect the other end to the negative pole of the dead battery. Attach the clamp to an unpainted, immovable metal part on the engine block of the vehicle that has been left. Some vehicles have special mass points, which are described in the user manual.

  • First start the engine of the car with the full battery and then the car with the empty battery.

  • In the car with the empty battery switch on the light, the rear window heater and the blower. This prevents voltage peaks from damaging the electronics when the cables are disconnected.

  • First remove the black cable from the minus pole of the donor vehicle – then from the breakdown vehicle.

  • Then also remove the red cable first from the donor vehicle, then from the breakdown vehicle. Finally, switch off the lights, the rear window heater and the blower. Then drive a longer distance with the breakdown vehicle to charge the battery.

Watch the cable for good quality

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The cables should have a cross-section of at least 16 square millimeters (mm²) for petrol-engined cars and as little as 25 for diesel vehicles. DIN standard 72553 stands for good quality. Some jumper cables have circuit breakers. They prevent voltage spikes and thus electronic damage in the car. To make a weak battery fit again, you should drive more than 20 minutes quickly by car. Because a cold battery charges only slowly.

Push as jump start unsuitable

What to do if there is no jumper cable at hand? Pushing the car, works only for cars with gasoline engine. For diesel vehicles, a distance of several hundred meters may be necessary, for cars with automatic transmission pushing is even impossible. And if the battery is not the cause of the breakdown, pushing can have nasty consequences. This unburned fuel can get into the catalyst and cause damage there. Many car manufacturers point out in the manual that pushing is not a suitable jump start. In this case, a call to the roadside assistance hotline of a car club can help.

How to avoid battery breakdowns

Have the battery checked regularly and clean the contacts on the poles. At these points, so-called leakage currents can occur, which slowly discharge the battery. Even low-viscosity smooth running oils in the engine spare the battery, because they bring the engine in the cold easier momentum.


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