Drivers warned of flat battery danger after lockdown - and how to jump start a car

Motorists have been warned of the dangers of recharging flat car batteries as Britain prepares to get back to work after lockdown.

Sunday, 7th June 2020, 8:00 am
Drivers warned of flat battery danger

With millions of UK cars left idle on driveways for weeks, it’s believed record numbers of drivers could face difficulties when it comes to starting their engines.

But experts from StressFreeCarRental.com have warned motorists of the dangers of charging batteries or jump starting vehicles.

They said many car owners were unaware of the dangers presented by removing a car battery from under their car’s bonnet and also stated that thousands of drivers have no idea how to jump start their vehicles safely.

The experts estimate that as many as one in 20 motorists could find their vehicles refuse to start when they get back behind the wheel for the first time.

There’s already some evidence that UK drivers are seeking solutions to flat batteries with online sales of battery chargers increasing in recent weeks.

But the experts warned drivers to research which type of battery their car uses before buying a charger as not all chargers will be suitable for all batteries.

They warned that the wrong kind of charger connected to a battery could cause permanent damage and there is even a risk of explosion which could cause serious injury.

They also said that while it is best to remove a car battery from the car before attempting charging doing so is fraught with danger as batteries can contain highly harmful acid and other chemicals.

The experts from StressFreeCarRental.com said it was usually best to consult a mechanic before attempting to restart a car but with garages closed due to the lockdown, they had some simple advice for those attempting to start a vehicle themselves for the first time.

A spokesman said: “With the UK under lockdown millions of drivers just haven’t bothered to start their cars for the past two months. We believe as many as five per cent could discover their battery is flat when they do decide to make a journey.

“Twenty years ago most drivers would’ve been competent with a pair of jump leads or a battery charger but the improved reliability of modern vehicles means many of us now don’t possess the skills required to get our cars moving again after a prolonged period of inactivity.

“Before attempting to recharge a battery drivers need to be aware that it is usually better to remove the battery from the car first and bring it into the garage before attaching it to a charger and then the mains supply.

“But removing the battery isn’t easy as it will probably be secured with tough metal clips. Drivers should take great care when removing a battery as they are heavy items which can cause serious injuries if dropped.

“They also contain highly toxic acids and other chemicals and usually have to be kept upright and not tilted or inverted when being carried for example.

“Before attaching to a charging unit drivers should first consult their vehicle’s handbook to find out what type of charger is compatible with their particular battery.

“Battery chargers are not one size fits all and connecting an incorrect charger to a battery can be very dangerous even leading to a possibility of explosion and fire which could be catastrophic if the battery was left to charge unattended.”

The spokesman from StressFreeCarRental.com added that the safest way to get a car moving again after a flat battery was a simple jump start from a second vehicle with a charged battery.

He said: “Jump leads can be purchased for around £10 to £15 online and are safe to use when connected in the correct order.

“With both cars turned off first connect the red lead to the positive terminal on the dead battery, then connect the other end to the positive terminal on the charged battery. Next, connect the black lead first to the negative terminal on the charged battery and finally to the negative terminal on the dead battery.

“Then start the charged car and once the engine is running, start the car with the dead battery and it should jump into action. The leads can then be disconnected in the reverse order they were connected.

“The newly jump started car should then be taken for a good run of around 45 minutes to allow the alternator to fully recharge the battery. The car needs to be driven at over 1,000 revs per minute so it’s best to head to a duel carriageway or a main road where you’re unlikely to encounter traffic.”

Nine Steps to Jump Start a Car:

Park car with live battery alongside car with run down battery, turn off engine and pop open both bonnets.

Attach red cable to the positive terminal on dead battery.

Attach other end of red cable to positive terminal on live battery.

Attach black cable to negative terminal on dead battery.

Attach other end of black cable to the negative terminal on dead battery.

Start engine of car with live battery.

Start engine of car with dead battery – it should now jump into life.

Disconnect all cables, taking care to do so in reverse order.

Close bonnets and take jump started car for a 45-minute drive at above 1,000 revs per minute to fully charge the battery.