Boosting a battery.


Old 07-18-05, 08:16 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: canada
Posts: 120
Boosting a battery.

My friend has a 1983 Econoline Van that has been left idle for a while and I offered her a boost to get it started. I've never boosted a vehicle before. I have a 1998 Jeep Cherokee.

Both our manuals gave the same instructions. They said to put a cable onto the positive battery terminal of the van first...then the positive battery terminal of the Jeep....then the negative battery terminal of the Jeep and then the 'engine' (does that mean the negative battery terminal?) of the van.

But. Help! When I touched the negative terminal of the van with the cable, a big spark jumped out. I called a friend and he said to try puting the cable on the frame of the van ,...yikes a flame poppped out.
Needless to say we didn't even start the Jeep up like the manual says as the next step.

Are we doing something wrong. I'm guessing the positive terminal is the one with a long cable that disappears into the engine somewhere and the negative is the one that's attached to a short cable (maybe a foot long) from the side.

Any advice much appreciated. I'm sure glad I never had to use these cables in an emergency so I should learn to do it correctly before that day ever comes.
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Old 07-19-05, 06:47 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 59
Sounds like you have them wrong.The red cable and battery will be marked +for positive and the black cable and the battery - for negitive.Don't do it wrong could ruin both.
Old 07-19-05, 08:31 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Hamilton County, Ohio
Posts: 4,292
When it says to put the terminal on the engine, it means ON THE ENGINE.
The reason for this is that the discharged battery could be putting out invisible fumes of hydrogen gas. A spark at the battery could result in an explosion, spraying you with acid. Attach the negative jumper cable to a solid piece of metal on the engine - away from the bad battery.
Old 07-19-05, 09:17 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: North Texas
Posts: 2,345
Thats right

Make sure that you look at the battery it should say + and - dont connect backwards or some serious damage will result.
Also like said before hook up the ground away from the battery to the engine block because the fumes might blow up when it sparks and it will if you are not fast enough.
Old 07-19-05, 09:53 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: canada
Posts: 120
Thanks for the info and especially the warnings.

Does it say positive and negative on the batteries? Could this be under a bunch of black goo or is it more obvious on the side or somehere? So the short batterycable (the one attached by a short cable to the nearby side of the battery) isn't always the negative?

I reread the manual and it says the battery in both vehicles must be the samew voltage. Could they have different voltage?
Old 07-19-05, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: North Texas
Posts: 2,345
same voltage

They will be the same voltage wipe the battery dont get any goop on your clothes or you will have big holes in them in a day or two.another clue is the positive might have a red protective cover on it.
Old 07-19-05, 03:33 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Kansas City, Missouri.
Posts: 1,172
I've had a battery explode in my car once. Thankfully the hood was closed at the time. But wow! It pays to be safe. Dem dar are de only eyeballs ya got!
Old 07-19-05, 03:49 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: nc
Posts: 616
The positive battery post is usually a little larger than the negative post. Often, the negative battery cable has 2 black wires coming from the terminal with the smaller of the 2 wires attached the the body of the vehicle. I believe this is the small cable you're talking about.

If you really want to go the safe way, you can get some jumper cables that make it impossible to damage anything if you reverse the polarity. I think they cost about $30-40 at an auto parts store and maybe walmart. No need to worry about backwards connections with these!

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