Do-It-Yourself: Car Batteries - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Do-It-Yourself: Car Batteries

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A cold, windy day is a good reminder that we're not too far away from vehicles not starting. If it's cold, snowy or windy, batteries have trouble and cars don't like to start. So we're going to talk about jumper cables.

Jumper cables come in a lot of different varieties and a lot of different places. Everywhere from a cheap little set that actually plugs into your cigarette lighter and plugs into the cigarette lighter of the car that's going to try to jump start you. Of course, that lightweight wire is going to take a long time to charge that battery up. On a store shelf, you'll see a lot of jumper cables, anywhere from 8-gauge, 6-gauge, 4-gauge or a 10-gauge. The lower the number, the better the cable. A couple of things happen. The heavier wire can carry more electrical currents and jump your car faster, but also as it gets cold, the ability of the copper to carry electricity starts to slow down. So the bigger the cable, the better. And it's kind of funny. The 4-gauge one is the heavy one, whereas the 10-gauge set is the light one. If you have a big truck, you want to be carrying 4-gauge cables around with you.

Now we're going to talk a bit about battery safety, how to jump start a vehicle and get it going. When you look, there's going to be a positive and negative side. And sometimes when I jump a car, it's very hard to find that. In general, there will be a red terminal on the positive side or a plus sign, and a black terminal on the negative side or a negative sign. So you can look for the colors (black or red) or the signs (plus sign or negative). You're always going to start with your dead vehicle. And you always want to make sure you're keeping the ends separate so they don't spark. So you separate them, and you start with the red on the dead vehicle. You go over and you put your red on the live vehicle. You put your black on the live vehicle. And then you come back and put your black on a piece of metal on the body frame. We don't like to put those jumper cables on battery to battery. There is hydrogen gas that comes out of the car batteries, and if you put it battery to battery, you can risk a spark that could light that gas.

The other thing you want to be sure of is, if you have a frozen battery -- if the sides are bulged out -- you never try to jump that battery. You also want to be sure to put the battery cables on with both vehicles off. Make sure the electrical items are off, and the vehicle is in park. After you've got your batteries hooked up, you start your live vehicle. Let it run a few minutes and idle to charge this battery. Now remember, the lighter the cables, the longer it's going to take to charge that battery.

When you take the cables off, you do exactly the opposite. You take off the black negative first, go over to the other vehicle, the black negative, the positive, and then you come back and remove that last positive cable. Always make sure the two sides don't touch and spark.

Now these are things we want to look forward to and be ready for winter. It might be a good idea to go out and buy yourself a nice, good quality set of jumper cables to have in your vehicle for this time of year. These are the things you can do yourself.

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